The Great NHL Playoff Race
Sometimes I wonder how the NHL isn't more popular then it is. It has all the elements American Sports fans love. Speed. Violence. Intensity. Good people. Hard hits. Great action. etc etc etc. Oh and great parity and playoff races. Have you looked at the standings lately? Sure you have your top notch teams like the Rangers and Redwings to name 2 but look at these playoff races and it's BIG time exciting.
Unlike the other sports where it is rare that an 8 seed can beat a 1 seed or something like that in the NHL if you get in you are a threat to go all the way. Great goaltending, superb special teams and discipline can take you a loooong way. It has happened so often it is almost the norm and not the exception.
In that vein never lose sight of the teams that have to fight to get into the tournament and have momentum and this years playoff races are epic.
1st the east. The Rangers are the beast of the east but look at spots 6-8 and those fighting to get there. You have NJ with 79 points in 6th. Ottawa is 7th 1 point behind Jersey and in the 8th and final spot Winnipeg at 72 points. The Jets however are only 2 points from 3rd in the east trailing Florida in their division by the 2 points. Right now under the cut line and fighting for a post season spot are several dangerous clubs. Buffalo wins last night, have won 3 of 4 and are tied with fast fading Washington with 70 points or 2 back of Winnipeg. Tampa Bay has 67 and Toronto which just fired their coach at 67 points just 5 back of that last spot. Even the Islanders, and Carolina at 65 points are still in it. Only montreal at 60 are out of it. That's every team still fighting with 15 to 17 games left depending which team. I am not sure I want to play the Sabres if I am the 1st place finisher which looks like it will be the Rangers.
To the West where is it even crazier. Chicago in 6th place is seperated by only 7 points from being 11th. Phoenix and San Jose have 75 and 74 points respectivly and hold down spots 7 and 8. Nipping at their heels at 9th and 10th are LA with 74 points and the surging Av's with 74 points. However both Phoenix and San Jose are right near the 3 spot currently held by Dallas. Anaheim and Minnesota are still alive with the 11th place Wild only 8 points out of the post season. Wow thats's big time exciting. Virtually every game has huge meaning and you can't ask for more then that.
The regular season ends April 7th. the chase to keep playing after that is incredible. 27 teams are either playing for position or playing for the right to keep playing after April 7th. That's out of 30 teams. No sport has that kind of parity and excitement and again finishing 8th doesn't mean you have only a snow balls chance in well you know to make a move for a Stanley Cup. As they say look it up. Game on as we come down the stretch!