Greetings Hockey Fans,
Here are some Saturday afternoon thoughts for fans who are not thinking about playoffs right now.
These are teams the Edmonton Oilers (65 pts) may be able to finish ahead of in the standings and therfore Duck fans should be cheering for:
Los Angeles (56 pts) - not much to say here, need a goalie, lots of young talent up front.
St. Louis (66 pts) - have not been playing great lately, 5 losses in a row, hopefully playing out the stretch.
Chicago (66 pts) - young team whose young stars may tire down the stretch of their first pro season, goaltending has been inconsistant all year, havlat injury may affect performance.
Columbus (69 pts) - traded away captain at deadline may affect team morale, however looked ready to compete in comeback against Canucks last night. If LeClaire, Nash, and Zherdev get hot, look out.
Phoenix (71 Pts) - Bryzgalov could get hurt, maybe the only way they slip too far down the standings, although 8 of next 17 against Anaheim, Dallas and San Jose.
Tampa Bay (59 pts) - should not make much of a push this season, but Smith could pull them out of the basement.
Florida (64 pts) - decent team with some excellent parts seemingly there with Jokinen, Bouwmeester, Horton, and Vokoun. Always seems to be alot of drama in the dressing room though. Also have no 1st Rd. pick.
Atlanta (64 pts) - Traded Hossa, recieved good return for future according to most. How the season ends depends on goaltending situation and Kovalchuk.
Toronto (66 pts) - Tried to blow up team and tank the season. Players would not allow it and seem to be playing like they have something to prove. Intriguing situation.
Washington (68 pts) - Could be the 3rd seed or could miss the playoffs. Picking up Huet should prevent a collaspe and Ovechkin wants to win. Guessing they go down to the wire with Carolina for third and everyone else for 8th. Probably would not be on this list in another week.
NYI (69 pts) - Nolan is getting so much out of these guys, do not know how much is left. Dipietro is the key.
I am not claiming to know everything about all these teams, however we have seen even Detroit go through a very bad spell this season. At this moment I would say all these teams and the Oilers have a shot at the lottery picks. As well that Edmonton has a realistic chance of passing any of these teams but not all these teams and finishing 17th-20th overall. Not terrible considering all the injuries. Let me know what you think. Looks like just about everyone has their last 8 games or so within their division, that and 3 point games should keep teams somewhat bunched up but also allow for a team to make up some ground if they finish the season strong. Anything can happen (injuries, slumps, over achievements, games being snowed out, etc) and it should be exciting for even those whos teams look to be longshots.
But then again I have been wrong before.