NHL Western Conference: Odds of making the playoffs
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 Western Conference and see who the odds are in favor of.
Looking Like A Lock
Chicago Blackhawks, Nashville Predators, Anaheim Ducks, St. Louis Blues and Vancouver Canucks
That’s 3 teams from the Central and 2 from the Pacific all over 91%. I have to admit that I didn’t think the Predators and Canucks would be doing this well, but hats off to them. It really appears that Pekka Rinne was a lot more valuable than most realized. As for the Canucks, the toxic environment from last season looks to be a weight off the Sedin twins shoulders.
As for the Hawks, Ducks and Blues, we all knew they would be their and battling for the top spots in their respective divisions. Of course, as long as those cockroaches from L.A. are hanging around the playoff picture, none of them are safe.
No Sure Thing
Los Angeles Kings
Yes, it is remotely possible that the Cup champs could miss the post season. Right now they are predicted to make the playoffs a 74.3% chance. They certainly have the roster and coaching to get in, but they also have the biggest target on their backs as well.
Each and every team uses a matchup against the Kings as a measuring stick to where they are. Not to mention that the L.A. Kings played a lot of hockey over the last several years.
With teams like San Jose and Minnesota good enough to make a move, the Kings could find themselves on the bubble. Is their another magic trade deadline deal this season? We don’t think so, but we also think the Kings can hold off the Wild, Jets and Flames to capture a spot.
Watch Out, Here They Come
San Jose Sharks, Minnesota Wild and Dallas Stars
The Sharks are an interesting bunch. They still have that bitter taste of playoff failures in their mouths. A mix of young and old veterans should be enough to get this team over the hump and into a playoff spot.
San Jose were winners of 9 out of 10 from late November into December, only to be losers of 4 out of their last 5. They have 3 key conference games (WPG, MIN, STL) before they face the red-hot Rangers. A good run will improve their current 57.8% chances.
Mumps Wild have had a real trying start to the season. From scoring slumps to goaltending issues with a battle against a long lost disease to open the year, it’s amazing the Wild are in the mix. The key for them will be Thomas Vanek putting pucks in the net and Darcy Kuemper keeping them out. We think they can do it but currently they only have a 26.7% chance of getting in and it will be hard to overcome.
As for the Stars of Dallas, don’t sleep on them. They may not be the most defensively sound team, but man can they fly. Tyler Sequin is tearing up the league and has 26 goals to go with 46 points. Add in Jamie Benn along with top line center, Jason Spezza and the Stars will stay on the radar.
Dallas has also won 9 out of their last 11 games and are now officially on the rise. Even though they are a hair under 25% to get in, we think there’s enough time to make up serious ground. Beware Western Conference, Dallas finally has some big guns and they are a-blazing.
Winnipeg Jets and Calgary Flames
These are both two very young and talented teams and deserve stick taps for how they are performing right now. However, it is that youth that may be their Achilles Heel as well.
The Jets are being buoyed by the splendid goaltending of 24 year old goalie, Michael Hutchinson. He currently has a remarkable 1.81 GAA and .937 SV%, only issue – he’s played a grand total of 19 NHL games. The jury is still out on the kid and that’s the real question mark for the Jets.
The Flames are a hard working group with a serious future ahead. Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan are going to be a joy to watch and are currently providing offense to the Calgary cause. Can they sustain it when the games get tougher and tighter down the stretch? We think they can do an admirable job, but maybe not enough to keep the Flames in the playoff picture.
The Connor McDavid Sweepstakes
We will continue this feature on FTHN in two weeks, so stay tuned.