NHL Eastern Conference: Odds of making the playoffs

New York Islanders' John Tavares (AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek)

New York Islanders’ John Tavares (AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek)

As we near the 41 game mark for some teams, it signifies the mid-way point of the NHL season. Although it is still early, many teams have gotten off to starts that have laid the foundation for clinching a playoff berth. Let’s check in on the Eastern Conference and see who the odds are in favor of.

EASTERN CONFERENCE

East Playoff Chances as of 1/2/15 (SportsClubStats.com)

East Playoff Chances as of 1/2/15 (SportsClubStats.com)

Looking Like A Lock

Pittsburgh Penguins, Tampa Bay Lightning, New York Islanders, Montreal Canadiens and New York Rangers

Evgeni Malkin (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

Evgeni Malkin (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

That’s 3 teams from the Metro and 2 from the Atlantic all over 92%. The Rangers catapulted themselves with an 8 game winning streak in December and it looks like they will return to defend their ECF title. Meanwhile, the Pens and Isles have gotten off to such tremendous starts that a trip to the dance, even if they had a meltdown seems very likely.

Over in the Atlantic, the Lightning and Canadiens have also had a tremendous start to their seasons and will assuredly get back to the show.

 

No Sure Thing

Detroit Red Wings and Washington Capitals

Pavel "Magic Man" Datsyuk (Getty)

Pavel “Magic Man” Datsyuk (Getty)

Some of you are asking, why’s Detroit’s chances not as good as the Rangers since they are only .4 off the mark at 91.7%. The answer is simple, you can’t count on the health of Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg any longer. If they get in, it will be a wild card spot at best.

The Capitals on the other hand are a team on the rise, but can Holtby hold off some of the other wild card teams like Toronto, Boston and Columbus? That is why they currently have 1 more point than the Rangers, yet are only at 82.8%. Couple the games in hand the Rangers have and the Caps road is much tougher.

Watch Out, Here They Come

Boston Bruins and Columbus Blue Jackets

Zdeno Chara (nhl)

Zdeno Chara (nhl)

Currently the Bruins sit at only a 25% chance of getting in. Could this be the first time since 2006/07 the Bruins miss the playoffs? We doubt it. The B’s are just too big and too talented to not be able to overtake the Leafs, Caps and Red Wings by season’s end.

Now, here’s a dark horse pick to make noise – the Blue Jackets. Ok, so as of today the odds are a paltry 2.1%, so what am thinking. Here’s the deal, this is a very good team that was decimated by injuries for months.

In December, the Jackets rattled off a 10-1-1 record. Now with Brandon Dubinsky back in the fold and Nick Foligno locked up long term, expect a serious push from Columbus the rest of the way.

The Pretenders

Toronto Maple Leafs and Florida Panthers

Phil Kessel  (Photo: Getty Images).

Phil Kessel (Photo: Getty Images).

Toronto had actually been playing really well for a stretch in November and December where they picked up points in 11 of 12 games. Now the Leafs have lost 6 of their last 8 and have begun slipping in the standings.

Florida is actually a huge surprise here. Buoyed by the excellent goaltending of Roberto Luongo they have managed to stay in the mix. However, far too much inexperience is on this roster and they will start to slip as the games get tougher and more meaningful.

 

The Connor McDavid Sweepstakes

Buffalo Sabres, Carolina Hurricanes and New Jersey Devils

Zemgus Girgensons (NHL)

Zemgus Girgensons (NHL)

While the Sabres are my Eastern Conference lock to win the Connor McDavid sweepstakes, they aren’t as sure a thing as when the season first started.

The Hurricanes are oft-injured and a mess, but Jordan Staal is now back. Still, keep your eyes on NJ as a questionable coaching move brings back shades of controversy when Mario Lemieux was eligible for the draft.

WESTERN CONFERENCE PLAYOFF ODDS

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