The Christmas break is the unofficial halfway point of the NHL season.
October, November and December are all but gone leaving January, February and March as pivotal months for many teams.
By the time we get to April, the remaining games are meaningless for most teams other than a few on the playoff cusp or those jockeying for playoff position but, as of now, we have a pretty good idea of what is going to occur.
We’ll discuss the upcoming Tank Battle in more detail in a subsequent post but, in the Western Conference, we find only 12 teams with a chance (the Oilers and Coyotes have a less than 1% chance of making the playoffs) and Dallas, Colorado and Minnesota are on shaky ground. The surprising Winnipeg Jets and Calgary Flames still have a decent shot but it appears the titans of seasons past…Chicago, Anaheim, San Jose, St. Louis, Los Angeles, Vancouver and Nashville could be playing in late April.
That’s 7 teams so I think it’s likely that Winnipeg, Minnesota and Calgary are playing for the #8 seed.
I would likely put my money on Minnesota here but they’re having a strange season where they outshoot everyone but still find a way to lose.
I have to admit I’m pulling for Calgary out of respect for their impeccable work ethic but I doubt they have the horses to get the job done unless they use some of their vast cap space to go for it this season. A trade with Arizona, for example, could land them Keith Yandle and Antoine Vermette and would likely land them a playoff spot.
The Jets are also exceeding expectations…they keep winning despite have 4 of their top 6 D out of commission but I’m not convinced they are as good as their record.
We’ll look at the Eastern Conference tomorrow.