The battle in Pyeongchang for American fans is now over. That means our eyes are on the NHL races solely for the majority of NHL fans in North America. In retrospect, I feel that no NHL stars present made for a less entertaining olympics. Nevertheless, it’s all over and we move forward. The race within the Western Conference is immensely tight.
It is wild out west. Teams are scratching and clawing every night for points. Only three teams are locks for the postseason. That would be Las Vegas, Nashville and Winnipeg. Eight other clubs are in a dog fight to secure the final five spots.
These are the eight teams, their projected points and current positions before games on 2/21:
San Jose – 101.1 points (2nd Place in Pacific)
Dallas – 100 points (3rd Place in Central)
Minnesota – 98.7 points (2nd Wildcard)
Los Angeles – 97 points (3rd Place in Pacific)
St. Louis – 96.8 points (1st Wildcard)
Anaheim – 95.4 points (Outside looking in)
Colorado – 94.5 points (Outside looking in)
Calgary – 94.3 points (Outside looking in)
There are two more guaranteed spots in the Pacific Division not yet solidified. In the Central, the Preds and Jets have gained significant separation leaving just one guaranteed spot up for grabs. This gives you a good idea of what will happen in that we have no idea. These are all projections with teams fighting for their playoff lives with 20+ games remaining. Anything can happen.
Battles out west in the Pacific
22 games remaining – 15 against teams in playoffs or in playoff race – 12 at home – 10 on road
22 games remaining – 15 against teams in playoffs or in playoff race – 15 at home – 7 on road
21 games remaining – 13 against teams in playoffs or in playoff race – 13 at home – 8 on road
22 games remaining – 14 against teams in playoffs or in playoff race – 10 at home – 12 on road
Each of these teams will meet in the middle and end of March. Five points separate these clubs and the intensity of those games will be at an all-time high. None of these teams are guaranteed playoff berths, which means the playoffs start now. The Golden Knights have an eight point lead over the second place Sharks with games in hand. Four of these five could make it out west or just two.
battles out west in the central
23 games remaining – 19 against teams in playoffs or in playoff race – 10 at home – 13 on road
23 games remaining – 16 against teams in playoffs or in playoff race – 10 at home – 13 on road
21 games remaining – 14 against teams in playoffs or in playoff race – 9 at home – 12 on road
23 games remaining – 16 against teams in playoffs or in playoff race – 12 at home – 11 on road
Nashville has a nine-point lead on third place Dallas. Winnipeg is just two points behind with a seven-point separation form the Stars. Just like the Pacific, the Central foes will meet multiple times down the stretch. The teams above are in more of a situation than the Pacific clubs with only one guaranteed spot left. Three of them could make it or just one.
this is why we follow hockey
The United States were eliminated Tuesday night to the hands of the Czech Republic. TJ Oshie was unable to make it as the Americans went down in a shootout. The US Women’s quest for gold will be won or not but nevertheless done by the time this gets out. The point being is that from this point forward all of our time, energy and focus should be on the NHL playoffs forthcoming.
I sound like the most broken of broken records. However, this is a sport with a competitive nature that is worth repeating every time we sit down and watch or talk hockey. There is nothing more exciting and no better time in sports than playoff hockey. The races themselves like the one out west to get to the postseason are almost just as exciting. Let us all sit back and enjoy these races and insanely intense battles.
“From Our Haus to Yours”