Today, let us take a look at how the Western Conference is shaping-up. I am going to repeat the top part of yesterday’s article which explains how the playoff positions are determined and how the teams are matched in the playoffs. Then I shall present the current Western Conference standings as of the morning of Thursday, February 16th. Finally, I will comment on the performance of the teams and state who I believe will comprise the eight who will be playoff-bound. If you disagree please leave a comment and tell me why.
The top teams in each of the three Western Conference Divisions (Central, Northwest, and Pacific) are automatically seeded 1, 2 and 3 in the standings and all will make the playoffs no matter what. Then the top five other teams in points make the playoffs too.
In the playoffs the #1 seed plays the #8 seed, the #2 seed plays the #7 seed, the #3 seed plays the #6 seed, and the #4 seed plays the #5 seed. The highest seed always gets home ice advantage. The same type of procedure is carried over into the 2nd Round and the 3rd Round; and, then the winner of the Western Conference goes to the Stanley Cup Finals to meet the winner of the Eastern Conference.
NHL Western Conference Standings as of Thursday, February 16.
Okay, now I would like to share what I am seeing and my predictions regarding which eight teams will be in the Western Conference playoffs.
It is obvious that
Detroit , and Vancouver will be in the playoffs, and so will St.
and Nashville barring a complete
collapse. San Jose is currently the
#3 seed (or 3rd seed if you prefer it stated that way) as the leader
of the Pacific Division; however, they could be overtaken if they falter and
the Kings or Coyotes put together some winning streaks. Yet, even if that
highly unlikely event occurred the Sharks will most assuredly make the playoffs
because they have only played 54 games and still have 68 points (which is
currently good for 5th in the Conference). San Jose
That leaves us with three playoff spots open out of the eight and the teams in contention to get those are the Kings, Coyotes, Blackhawks, Flames, Avalanche, Stars, Wild and Ducks. The Oilers and Blue Jackets are out of the race.
In my opinion, the Kings and Coyotes are going to take hold of two of the last three spots. Despite
terrible losing streak ( Chicago 1-8-1)
they could recover and get the last spot—I hope not. If they do get into the
playoffs, four of the five teams in the Central Division will be playoff-bound.
Only will have fallen
short, far short. Columbus
In my opinion, the Flames, Stars, Avalanche and Wild do not have enough firepower to win enough games and make the playoffs.
Can an underdog win the Western Conference? I checked stats on the Kings, Coyotes, Ducks and Blackhawks to see how these four teams have played this year against the Red Wings, Canucks, Blues and Sharks. I was actually a little surprised at some of the results.
Kings vs. Red Wings – 2-0 in games for the Red Wings.
Kings vs. Canucks – 2-1 in games for the Kings.
Kings vs. Blues – 2-1 in games for the Kings.
Kings vs. Sharks – 2-1 in games for Sharks (although last game was a SO)
Coyotes vs. Red Wings – 3-1 in games for the Red Wings (some close games here).
Coyotes vs. Canucks – 2-0 in games for the Canucks.
Coyotes vs. Blues – 2-0 in games for the Blues.
Coyotes vs. Sharks – 2-1 in games for the Coyotes.
Ducks vs. Red Wings – 3-0 in games for the Red Wings.
Ducks vs. Canucks – 2-1 in games for the Ducks.
Ducks vs. Blues – 1-1
Ducks vs. Sharks – 3-1 in games for the Ducks.
Blackhawks vs. Red Wings – 1-1
Blackhawks vs. Canucks – 2-1 in games for Canucks
Blackhawks vs. Blues – 1-1
Blackhawks vs. Sharks – 2-1 in games for Blackhawks.
After considering the stats,
or Chicago could give Phoenix
a problem in the 1st Round. If it is Detroit
again it will not be near as easy as last year because Mike Smith will play a
lot better than Bryzgalov did last year. Bryzgalov’s performance in that series
was one of the worst ever. We must consider that the Sharks have knocked-off
the Red Wings two years in a row and they could meet again in Round 2. The
Sharks are the biggest threat to the Red Wings, and the Blackhawks are another
threat and could meet the Wings in the 1st Round. The Red Wings have
handled the Canucks this year so the Canucks had better hope that the Sharks
take care of them. Phoenix
The Blues could be beaten by
or Anaheim . Chicago
In my opinion, either
or Detroit will win the Western
Conference; however, there are some real possibilities for upsets as confirmed
by the stats. Vancouver
Just like last year it is a war to see who will get the last three playoff spots in the West. May the best teams win!