Early NHL Playoff Look

The push for the Stanley Cup is less than a month away and teams are fighting for a spot in the post-season. Teams like the Capitals are almost locked in for playing in late April while teams like the Kings are one point away from a chance to win the Cup.

What 16 teams will be left to compete for the Stanley Cup? Here is a breakdown of a predicted standings in each division and the wild card teams:

Metropolitan:

Feb 25, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin (8) celebrates with Capitals defenseman John Carlson (74) and Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom (19) after scoring a goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the third period at Verizon Center. The Penguins won 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 25, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin (8) celebrates with Capitals defenseman John Carlson (74) and Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom (19) after scoring a goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the third period at Verizon Center. The Penguins won 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
  1. Washington Capitals
  2. Pittsburgh Penguins
  3. Columbus Blue Jackets

As it currently stands, the Caps have a two point lead over third place Blue Jackets, but there is still plenty of hockey left.

However, this is a Capitals team that won the Presidents Trophy with 120 points last season. Around this point last season, the Capitals had 102 points which is what they have now.

Expect them to close out the season strong, as they have already locked up a playoff spot.

As for the second and third place teams, the Penguins are coming off a Stanley Cup championship and are currently only one point up on the Blue Jackets for second place. It is tough to compare last year’s Blue Jackets team to this year’s due to the total 180 they went through in being able to win games.

Yet, I’m going to give the edge to Crosby and Company. Currently all three teams have locked up a playoff spot.

Atlantic:carey-price

  1. Montreal Canadiens
  2. Ottawa Senators
  3. Boston Bruins

All three of these teams are keeping it competitive in the division with first-place Montreal holding a slim three point lead over second-place Ottawa.

The Canadiens live and die on Carey Price. Last season the Canadiens were plagued by a Price injury that caused him to only be able to suit up for 12 games. A healthy Price this season means a division title for the Habs.1318025288004_ORIGINAL

The Senators are currently second and hold a six point lead over third place Boston, but the Bruins might be surging at the right time.

Boston will face off against the Senators one more time this season and it will be at TD Garden.

Currently no one in the Atlantic division has locked up a playoff spot.

Central:70340901

  1. Chicago Blackhawks
  2. Minnesota Wild
  3. St. Louis Blues

The closest race comes in one of the best divisions in hockey.

The Wild have given up their large lead in the point column after losing to their rival Blackhawks twice at home in the last two meetings.

The Preds fall out of the top three in favor of the St. Louis Blues. The two teams are both currently tied at 83 points and that race should come down to the wire.  With one more matchup between these two teams taking place in St. Louis, Tarasenko and the Blues should seal up that third spot.

Pacific:Los+Angeles+Kings+v+Anaheim+Ducks+Game+Two+V14IYIX95UCl

  1. San Jose Sharks
  2. Edmonton Oilers
  3. Anaheim Ducks

The Stanley Cup runner-ups should take home the division pennant. San Jose currently holds a four point lead over the oilers, don’t expect any changes here.

Connor McDavid is the real deal and he will bring the Oilers to the postseason and end the 10-year drought– longest in the league.

Eastern Wild Card Teams:612613492-montreal-canadiens-v-toronto-maple-leafs-850x560

  1. New York Rangers
  2. Toronto Maple Leafs

Auston Matthews exploded for four goals in his NHL debut and now will bring the Leafs back into cup contention.

Other contenders for the last wild card spot are the Islanders, Lightning, Flyers, and Panthers. Look for the rookie Matthews to carry Toronto back to the post-season.

Western Wild Card Teams:

NASHVILLE, TN - MARCH 31: Mike Fisher #12 of the Nashville Predators skates against the Vancouver Canucks during the first period at Bridgestone Arena on March 31, 2015 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN – MARCH 31: Mike Fisher #12 of the Nashville Predators skates against the Vancouver Canucks during the first period at Bridgestone Arena on March 31, 2015 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
  1. Calgary Flames
  2. Nashville Predators

The Preds have surged in the last few weeks and have climbed the central division ladder all the way up to a tie for third.

They may not place in the top three of the central, but they won’t fall out of the playoff picture.

Calgary has been one of the hottest teams in hockey.

One thing to look for is if the Kings have enough time to make up ground now that they have Quick back in net.

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