NHL Playoff Race Heats Up As Regular Season Ends

Photo courtesy of Michael Miller

The Stanley Cup Playoffs are fast approaching, and some of the league’s premiere teams are playing good enough to make long runs.

This year has a been a lot different, as it is the first time since 1970 that no Canadian teams have made the postseason.

However, it is unknown which team will end up on top when it is all said and done. Junior Pablo Balmaseda believes it will be the Washington Capitals.

“They have the best record in the league with 55 wins and their offense cannot be stopped. They are too fast for others teams on the ice,” said Balmaseda. The Capitals rank second overall for goals per game and first overall for goals against. 

“Having a player such as left wing Alex Ovechkin in the playoffs is a dangerous thing for others teams, because he is made for the big moment and will go for the kill at any time just to bring that team a championship,” said Balmaseda. 

Ovechkin has a total of 66 goals in the regular and is considered a solid MVP candidate in some people’s eyes.

Senior Jesse Bastin believes the Chicago Blackhawks have a chance to bring another championship to the Windy City after last year’s Stanley Cup victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning.

“The Blackhawks have the best player in the league with Patrick Kane and has the playoff experience to make a run,” he said. 

Kane has tallied 43 goals and 57 assists so far this season, and no one in the league is putting numbers like him right now. He is most likely to take home the Hart Memorial Trophy this year. If Kane were to win, he will be the first American to ever win it.

The New York Rangers still have the same pieces from when they made a run at the Stanley Cup in the 2014 postseason before losing to the Los Angeles Kings, and many believe they can make another run this season, as well. 

Senior Daniel Laratta thinks the Rangers have the potential to win it all this year.

 “We have a solid team and we have the experience to help us in tough moments, but we need to work on being more consistent and physical on defense. If we can do that then we will be fine when the playoffs start,” he said

The Rangers have talent at both ends of the rink and plenty of experience with players such as goalie Henrik Lundqvist and center Derick Brassard, but this may be the year they either win the championship or are forced to rebuild the team in the offseason to add younger players to the roster.

The New York Islanders clinched a playoff berth with their victory over the first place Capitals, taking the game in the nation’s capital by a score of 4-3.

There are many sleeper teams such as the 48-23-9 Dallas Stars and the 46-25-8 Pittsburgh Penguins who, with a healthy Sidney Crosby, could cause damage.