Cleat Geeks

NHL: WILD CARD ROUND UP

With every NHL team having played at least 58 games in the 82 game season, pressure is starting to build in the Wild Card Standings. As teams continue to have their ups and downs, they continue to allow other contenders the chance at a first round playoff spot. Breaking down the potential playoff teams continue to confound analysts and experts alike.

 

NHL_Eastern_Conference_svg

The Eastern Conference is much less intriguing than the West. Currently, the Washington Capitals hold the 1st Wild Card spot at 76 points. The Boston Bruins who continue to decline, are barely holding onto the 2nd spot; nine points back, at 67 points. Florida (65 points) and Philadelphia (63 points) are closing in on their heels and making the final push to the playoffs very interesting. The two other teams less likely to get into the mix, unless they can build up some winning streaks, are the Ottawa Senators (60 points) and the New Jersey Devils (59 points).TUUKA RASK

 

Tuukka Rask has many worried that his work load will become an issue, as Boston cannot seem to find a reliable back up to give him a break in net. He currently ranks 4th in the league, with 51 games played. It will be interesting to see as the games continue, if Florida can pull off an unlikely upset by taking Boston; a consistent playoff contender, out of the playoffs. With Boston continuing to struggle and neither Florida nor Philadelphia backing down, it could be any three of these teams come playoff time.

 

NHL_Western_Conference_svg

The Western Conference continues to change almost daily. There are only two teams in the Western Conference that are completely out of the playoff race. The 11th ranked Dallas Stars (63 points) and 12th ranked Colorado Avalanche (63 points) are mathematically still in it; only 7 points behind the 2nd Wild Card spot, held by the Calgary Flames (70 points). The 1st Wild Card spot is currently held by the Winnipeg Jets (73 points) who could have a chance to gain ground on an ailing Chicago Blackhawks team (77 points) that just lost their star forward, Patrick Kane.

 

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Patrick Kane is out for a reported 12 weeks.

Kane is out for approximately 12 weeks, after he suffered a fractured left clavicle that required surgery. The injury occurred against the Florida Panthers on February 24th, 2015 on a play that has caused a great amount of controversy. Further unconfirmed reports from yesterday (February 25th) speculate that the Blackhawks are also having locker room issues. If this is the case, they’re going to have to get themselves under control quick in order to keep pace and not cause any further disruption. This could however flip flop if they’re able to continue playing at their current pace, and the St. Louis Blues (80 points) continue to falter at theirs’.

 

KEVIN SHATTENKIRK

All-Star defenseman, Kevin Shattenkirk.

The St. Louis Blues are playing .500 hockey in their last ten games with a 5-5 record. The Blues recent inconsistency is reflective of a defense that is allowing multiple odd man rushes on most nights that continue to leave both goaltenders, Elliott and Allen, out to dry. It seems that without their All-Star defenseman, Kevin Shattenkirk, they haven’t been able to find the discipline needed on the ice that the Blues are known for. Shattenkirk was injured on February 1st, 2015 against the Washington Capitals and his return is still unknown.

The two teams currently just above water and not in a Wild Card spot include the Vancouver Canucks (73 points), Los Angeles Kings (70 points). The only element keeping the standings where they are is the arrangement of the Divisions and the fact that the Kings have two games in hand on the Calgary Flames. Those two games in hand for the Kings could be exactly what they’ll need when the seasons inches closer to game 82.

NIEMI

SAN JOSE SHARKS GOALIE: ANTTI NIEMI

DEVAN DUBNYK

MINNESOTA WILD GOALIE: DEVAN DUBNYK

 

 

 

 

While the San Jose Sharks (68 points) continue to disappoint and fall from the standings, the Minnesota Wild (69 points) have come out of nowhere; both it would seem, due to one specific position on the ice. In the Pacific Division, Sharks goalie Antti Niemi, is not having a good year at all and is not expected to be resigned at the end of the season. He currently posts a .913 save percentage and a 2.60 goals against average, both ranking in the bottom five of the league for a starting goaltender. In the Central Division; Minnesota Wild’s, Devan Dubnyk, is making the best of his opportunity. He has bumped up this year’s stats with a .924 save percentage and a 2.19 goals against average, both currently ranking in the top 6 in the league. It is hard for anyone to say, that Minnesota’s resurgence is due to anything other than the play of Devan Dubnyk in net.

Trade Deadline

With the trade deadline fast approaching, it should be interesting to see what changes are to be made. It is doubtful that we will see any blockbuster deals, like last year’s trade of Martin St. Louis and Ryan Callahan. A plethora of deals are doubtful until the conclusion of the deadline comes on March 2nd. Teams will be looking to squeeze as much as they can out of their bargaining chips in order to continue rebuilding, or to help fix key weaknesses on the ice. One thing is for sure; for a hockey fan, this is where the season really becomes exciting.

One Comment

  1. patrick kane

    March 20, 2015 at 10:47 pm

    Lets talk about this, it’s an intresting theme

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