Well its that time of year again and the quest for the postseason is heating up. I have yet to see the infamous Brad Ratgen playoff quest blogs so I decided to chip in with my own picks.
Here are the current standings:
1. Y - San Jose 107
2. X - Detroit 107
3. Calgary 90
4. Chicago 89
5. Vancouver 87
6. Columbus 83
7. Anaheim 80
8. Edmonton 79
9. Nashville 78
10. Minnesota 78
11. St. Louis 77
12. Dallas 74
** Thru Wednesday's games
X - Clinched Playoff spot Y - Clinched Division
Here are my picks:
2. San Jose
11. St. Louis
The top two are locks to finish their although some argue that they may flip positions with each other. Both are dominant but Detroit is Detroit and its hard not to pick them as #1.
Calgary has a pretty decent schedule with a couple of challenges. However, they play games against the Kings and Oilers in April which are both more than winnable. With their recent victory over Detroit, the Flames are proving they can win any game even the few they have against tougher opponents like San Jose and Columbus.
Vancouver has a more favourable schedule than the Hawks and is why I see the Canucks making the leap. All of their games are winnable with the only real challenges being Chicago this Sunday and Calgary in April. The Canucks are red hot at home and snapped a road losing streak recently with Kesler and Burrows playing the best hockey of their careers.
Chicago will play the Red Wings, Blue Jackets and Predators twice each plus upcoming games againts red hot New Jersey and Vancouver. The Central division is getting better and better each year and even the Predators are no easy win for the Hawks. I still think the Canucks have a better schedule and are on a roll right now. Chicago, while mustering a victory against San Jose recently, were slightly struggling. That won't hold them up though but I don't see them holding on to their spot for too much longer.
Columbus will finally see the postseason this year. Its been a long road for the Blue Jackets but they are almost there. Steve Mason has been unbelievable for them in net and will be a candidate for ROY. The Vermette acquisition has yet to have a real effect but he could be useful in the playoffs with the experience hes had in Ottawa. The Jackets have a pretty nice schedule with 3 games against the Blues but they also have one against the Flames and 2 against the Hawks. The Jackets will tough it out and remain in the 6 spot.
Anaheim is finally showing and proving that they badly want to get to the postseason. They are getting the goaltending from whoever starts in net and are getting the leadership from the vets. They are playing with grit and intensity and their big guns like Perry, Getzlaf and Selanne are stepping up.
Nashville always seems to get into the postseason and I think they will get there for the 5th straight year. Barry Trotz has coached this team through thick and thin. While the team is battling injuries to key players, for this squad, it will all come down to coaching and if the team plays Trotz hockey, then they will make it with ease. However, they have been inconsistent this season and who knows what could happen without the leadership of their captain Jason Arnott. The schedule is decent with two each against the Red Wings, Blackhawks and Jackets. What works for the Preds is that they have not exactly stuggled against them this season.
Minnesota is coming on strong. Marian Gaborik is back and with a vengeance too. His future in Minnesota is uncertain but he's there to win now. Backstrom gives them great goaltending each game but will everyone else step up too? It will come down to the wire for the Wild but I predict that they will just fall short. The games within their division against streaking Vancouver and Calgary could hurt them.
Edmonton will be the New York Mets of the NHL this year. Let the chokefest begin! Dwayne Roloson has been big all year but can you really rely on him, at his age to be your number 1 goalie down the stretch? He's a big question mark for me and he wasn't great last year or at the start of this season. They have injuries to key players and their acquisitions at the deadline have been big time flops. They also have to finish the year on a home and home with the Flames and have a game each against the Sharks and Canucks. Good luck!
St. Louis plays Andy Murray hockey but I know Chris Mason and his play. He will not hold up. The times when he took the Preds into playoffs were years when the Preds had loaded rosters. The Blues do not have such a roster. They will need good coaching to get them higher but their schedule does not favor them.
Dallas is struggling and they are desperate. They also have a whole bunch of injuries to key players like Morrow and Zubov. I don't know if Turco can hold up and be the beast that he can be much longer this season. There's also a lot of inexperience on the blueline that has hurt them at times this season.
Anyways, thats all for now. Playoff picks to come at a later date. Take care.