As the playoffs draw closer in the NHL and most teams prepare for a long April-May run, they look to have momentum going into the playoffs.
Teams like Detroit and Nashville, that were struggling for a playoff spot earlier this season, have heated up and sit comfortably in 5th and 7th in the Western Conference. Detroit is a perennial playoff contender, and returning to the Stanley Cup final wouldn’t surprise anyone, while teams like Nashville and Phoenix battling bankruptcy and other issues, have secured playoff spots and could be a long shot to win the Western final. Colorado/Calgary will be expected to win against the falling Sharks, and seem like they could also push forward for a long run. The Canucks, with the Sedin’s and Luongo as well, are looking good clinching their division and should have no trouble eliminating the Kings in the first round. The Wings, Canucks, Coyotes and the Flames/Av’s should be in the second round
In the East Washington and Pittsburgh seem likely to face of in the east unless Buffalo can beat one of them, because most of the teams in the East aren’t real contenders, while New Jersey should round of the final four. An Ovechkin vs Crosby battle seems in place and will be a hit amongst hockey fans.
Many teams will rest players as they reach the end of the season, and that might be a mistake since momentum is important to keep when planning for the playoffs. The playoffs will focus mainly on a teams gritty defense and clutch goal tending, so key scorers and depth on lines will make for a good playoff run. Being a Canucks fan, I’m hoping for them to win it all, but being a little more realistic leads me to believe that it will be a Phoenix vs. Washington, with the Capitals winning it all.