With the regular season winding down and the available playoff
spots mostly taken up, it is time to look at some of the possible matchups that
will be the most fun to watch. There is still some shuffling to be done, some
at the top, but more interestingly, the ninth place team in each conference
that can still grab one of the last spots. In the west Colorado is on the
outside looking in, sitting five points behind Minnesota for the last spot.
However, the race is much tighter in the East with Detroit and Philadelphia
tied with 87 points and Boston one point ahead of them. The team that gets in
on the West side will have to play a very good team in either Dallas or St.
Louis and it looks like whoever lands eighth in the East will have a tough time
playing the Presidents Trophy winning Washington Capitals. So here is a look at
two of the more exciting and more even matchups that can meet in the playoffs.
The first is probably going to be the most interesting in the
West and maybe the whole playoffs. Chicago vs St. Louis or Dallas. These are
three teams that all play in the Central Division and therefore have a great
division rivalry. Currently, the matchup is Chicago playing St.Louis and they
have tied their season series, but St.Louis and Dallas both have identical
records for 101 points and 42 wins with five games remaining. Chicago is six
points back with only two less wins with five games remaining but as history
has shown, they can match up with any team in the league. Whichever, of these
two (three) teams play each other it will be a great matchup with physical
hockey and great goaltending.
In the East, the best matchup so far is the Pittsburgh Penguins
and the New York Rangers. One of these teams have made the Eastern Conference
finals in six of the last eight years. Both of these teams obviously have the
experience, skill and toughness to make it all the way. It will be unfortunate
that only one of these teams can make it past the first round (they play each
other as of now) but there are still six games remaining and anything can
happen. Both teams are playing great hockey right now with the Rangers going
5-3-2 in their last ten and Pittsburgh with an amazing 9-1-0 record. These two
teams both have great defence and amazing scoring talent. It will be a battle
of which team can score more goals against two great goaltenders in
Fleury and New York’s Henrik Lundqvist.
The rest of the matchups obviously have the potential of being
great hockey (and they probably will because it's playoff hockey) but this
article focused on the two that should be really fun to watch. It should be
noted that these are just potential matchups and that the standings can and
probably will change. However, it is the playoffs and any matchup on any given
day can be the greatest game you have ever seen.
Labels: Graham Thurgood