It has been 6 months since the puck has been dropped to start the 2016-2017 NHL regular season. Fast forward to today and we are in the month where all 30 teams are trying to solidify their playoff positions. Teams have made the necessary roster adjustments during the NHL trade deadline, and it’ll be interesting to see how each newcomer of each team will contribute to the success of their new team’s playoff chances.
Over the past six months, we have seen SC Top 10-worthy goals.
We have witnessed senseless water bottle murders.
We have seen outrageous hits given to unfortunate recipients.
And we have seen jaw-dropping performances given by the men behind the mask.
I don’t know if any of you readers are NHL fans, but I, as a content writer, have been following the race to the NHL playoffs very intently. And it’s very exciting to see the teams that didn’t make it to last year’s playoffs, about to make it into this year’s.
Let’s start off with the Toronto Maple Leafs, who in my mind, have been building up for a Stanley Cup run for the past 4-5 seasons. As of right now, Toronto is tied for 2nd in the Eastern Conference Wild Card spot with the New York Islanders at 70 points. As a Rangers fan, I despise the Isles with all my heart and I’m rooting for the Maple Leafs to overtake the Isles for the second wild card spot. Look, you can give me all the talk about how Frederik Andersen is an unproven goaltender, who’s got limited experience in the playoffs. However, so far this year he’s been holding down the fort in goal, posting an above-decent save percentage of .916 for a goaltender of his caliber. A number that’s pretty good for a goaltender that’s regarded around the league as a back-up. Finally, when you add a bunch of youngsters, leading off with Auston Matthews, William Nylander and Mitch Marner, who are all going to be all-stars in 2 to 3 years, your team will be set for ages to come. I’d be most wary of any team that will be facing them in the first round.
Roughly 3,000 miles west in Southern California, the L.A. Kings are in a bit of a precarious spot. The boys in black and silver started out the season relatively slow and then they caught themselves in a slump, giving their playoff chances a dull and faded shine. Recently, they caught on fire, with the return-from-injury of All-Star goaltender Jonathan Quick and the renaissance of veteran goal-scorer Jeff Carter finally finding his youth. And now, the L.A. Kings have climbed their way up to the second wild card spot in the Western Conference, behind the Calgary Flames. Fortunately for the Kings, they have added goalie insurance during the NHL trade deadline, in former Tampa Bay Lighting starting goaltender, Ben Bishop. Seeing that Jonathan Quick has been to the IR more times than not, it was a very good move calling Tampa Bay’s GM Steve Yzerman about a deal involving Ben Bishop and getting it done.
As it stands (barring any drastic changes to the standings), the NHL Playoff picture looks like this:
*The top seed in each division plays one of the wild-card teams in its conference. The division leader with the most points plays the wild-card team with the fewest points. The second and third seeds in each division face each other in the first round.
Eastern Conference Western Conference
CURRENT MATCHUP 1 CURRENT MATCHUP 1
Montreal Canadiens (36-21-8, 80 points) San Jose Sharks (38-18-7, 83 points)
NY Rangers (41-21-2, 84 points) Calgary Flames (34-26-4, 72 points)
CURRENT MATCHUP 2 CURRENT MATCHUP 2
Ottawa Senators (34-22-6, 74 points) Edmonton Oilers (34-22-8, 76 points)
Boston Bruins (33-25-6, 72 points) Anaheim Ducks (34-21-10, 74 points)
CURRENT MATCHUP 3 CURRENT MATCHUP 3
Washington Capitals (43-13-7, 93 points) Minnesota Wild (41-15-6, 88 points)
NY Islanders (30-22-10, 70 points) Los Angeles Kings (31-27-6, 68 points)
CURRENT MATCHUP 4 CURRENT MATCHUP 4
Columbus Blue Jackets (40-16-6, 86 points) Chicago Blackhawks (40-18-5, 85 points)
Pittsburgh Penguins (38-16-8, 84 points) Nashville Predators (32-23-9, 73 points)
And now I end this article with this teaser of the Stanley Cup. If this doesn’t get you into the rollercoaster of feelings that comes with the Stanley Cup playoffs, I’m not sure what will.