NHL Final Standings Predictions – WEST

A couple of days ago, I decided that I’d take a crack at figuring out what the final standings (and therefore the first round of the playoffs) would look like in for the Eastern Conference.

This is the second post (of two) on this topic… here we’ll discuss the Western  Conference and what might end up happening in the closing weeks of the regular season.

Pictured to the right is the current playoff picture in the western conference (as of the morning of 3.28.2009)…

The WESTERN CONFERENCE:

Who’s in and who’s out:

Phoenix and Colorado are out of the playoff picture, while Dallas and Los Angeles (while not out of the picture yet) have a huge uphill climb to get even a sniff at the playoffs.

San Jose and Detroit will finish the season as the top two teams in the western conference and the leaders of their respective divisions.  Calgary, Chicago, Vancouver, and Columbus are separated by just 5 points, and will likely battle for positions 3-6 in the west.  Calgary and Vancouver are separated by just 1 point in the standings, with the winner of that race automatically guaranteed home ice advantage in the first round as the winner of the Northwest division and the 3rd seed in the standings.

Edmonton, Nashville, Anaheim, St. Louis, and Minnesota are separated by just 3 points in the standings and will likely battle through the remainder of the season for the last two available playoff spots.

In-Depth Analysis:

nhl standings (west prediction)Based on my assumptions of winners and losers in the coming weeks.  I’ve compiled my prediction as to the final standings of the Western Conference.

These rankings are based on the assumption of teams finishing with the following records through their remaining games:

San Jose (5-3) …  With four games against bottom dwellers Phoenix, Los Angeles, and Colorado, San Jose should have an easy road to securing the top playoff spot in the West.

Detroit (4-3) … Detroit plays 5 games against “bubble” teams Nashville, St. Louis, Minnesota, and Buffalo.  These games will be as tough as they come as these teams fight for their playoff lives.  The remaining two match ups for the Red Wings are against a tough Chicago team.  Four wins for Detroit by the end of the season is going to be a difficult, but reasonable challenge.

Calgary (5-3) … Calgary and Vancouver have similar schedule difficulties through the rest of the year, both have the same number of home games, and both have similar records as of now.  It’s really just a gut instinct at this point as to which one finishes first in the northwest, but my money is on Calgary right now.

Chicago (5-4) … Chicago has the most games remaining of any western conference teams and by that virtue alone, I think they’ll get 5 wins and hold off Vancouver for the fourth playoff seed.

Vancouver (5-3) … Aside from playing Colorado twice, Vancouver’s match ups are by no means “easy.”  I think they fall just short of Calgary and Chicago.

Columbus (3-5) … The Jackets play St. Louis three times, Nashville twice, Chicago twice, and Minnesota once.  With a schedule like that, I think they’ll be lucky to finish with a 0.500 record.

St. Louis (5-3) … St. Louis has matched up well against Columbus this year, and they play them three times.  The Blues are hot right now, from their scoring to their goaltending.  This young team will continue their surge and steal one of the remaining playoff spots.

Anaheim (4-3) … Anaheim is dangerous right now, and outside of playing San Jose twice, has a very easy schedule difficulty through the remainder of the season.  I expect them to win four and eek into the last playoff spot by virtue of winning the tiebreaker over Nashville.

Nashville (4-4) … Nashville will come close, but if/when it comes down to a tiebreaker in the standings (the tiebreaker is the team with the most wins), both Edmonton and Anaheim have the advantage.  Rinne will get them close, but a lack of scoring and Jason Arnott being out injured these last few games will come back to haunt the Predators.

Edmonton (3-4) … With 5 games against the very tough northwestern division rivals, and 2 games against big and difficult San Jose and Anaheim teams, Edmonton and it’s quite possibly overworked veteran goalie will find themselves on the outside looking in at season’s end.

Minnesota (4-4) … Despite the return of Gaborik, and the tremendous play of Backstrom all year, Minnesota will find itself struggling without tremendous two-way center, Mikko Koivu.  They will do as well as the teams currently ahead of them, but they will not do better enough to pass them in the standings.

Dallas (3-5) … A victim of early season struggles, and losing Brad Richards, Brendan Morrow, and Sergei Zubov to long term injuries was too much to overcome.  They will flounder the remaining games, but will upset some opponents who are looking for crucial wins.

Los Angeles (5-3) … This young team has really taken their new system to heart this year.  They are playing well right now, and are possibly the most dangerous spoiler team to play in the closing weeks.

Phoenix (2-6) … Young and fast, they can spoil some playoff hopes, but I don’t imagine that their remaining record will differ that greatly from their record in the last ten games.

Colorado (3-4) … They’ll play spoiler, but without even average goaltending, the Avalanche will be the whipping boy of the west (as they have been all season) and will finish with one of their worst records since moving to Colorado.

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3 Responses to “NHL Final Standings Predictions – WEST”

  1. This blog’s great!! Thanks :).

  2. […] UPDATE: Check out my Western Conference Predictions Here. […]

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