With the NHL playoffs less than one week away, we will have a full playoff preview for everybody next week. Today, we will be highlighting some of the hottest teams in the NHL going into the playoffs.
As of right now, 14 of the 16 teams have been decided, including all of the Western Conference. In the East, the Bruins, Flyers, and Red Wings are fighting for the final two spots. While seedings and the final list of teams has yet to be determined, there are certainly some teams getting hot and some teams playing poorly. With all this in mind, let’s take a look at some teams that are gaining momentum at the right time. Based on the way these three teams are playing right now, each and every one could be a trendy pick to bring Lord Stanley’s Cup back to their city.
Pittsburgh is the hottest team in the NHL right now and it isn’t even close. They have lost exactly one game in the last 30 days, going 14-1-0 since March 8th. Over that stretch of time, they have beaten some of the best teams in the NHL by a wide margin. During this 15-game stretch, they defeated the Capitals twice, the Rangers twice, the Islanders twice, and the Flyers twice, in addition to wins over Nashville and Detroit. In the Metropolitan Division, the Capitals, Flyers, Rangers, and Islanders are all playoff-caliber teams that share a division with the Penguins. In fifteen games, the Pens have outscored their opponents by more than 30 goals. Most of this run has been done with important players like Evgeni Malkin and Marc-Andre Fleury not in the lineup. All-in-all, the Penguins have secured home ice in the first round and a second place finish in the loaded Metropolitan Division. No one, and I really mean no one, wants to play the Pittsburgh Penguins right now. They have momentum on their side and they are firing on all cylinders.
After a 1-7-2 start, the Ducks had time to make a comeback, but they looked dead in the water. Fresh off of a loss to the Blackhawks in the 2015 Western Conference Finals, Anaheim was geared up for a Stanley Cup run, but was hindered by their slow start. Since then, the Ducks have gone 43-18-9 and put themselves in a position to recapture the #1 seed in the Pacific Division. To put that record in perspective, the Capitals have gone 47-15-8 over that stretch of time and they may end up finishing with one of the best records in NHL History. While this team hasn’t played great as of late (6-4-2 over their last 12 games), they have certainly built up a lot of confidence since the season has started. Since their slow start, the Ducks have outscored their opponents by nearly 40 goals. Another impressive stat that makes the Ducks a trendy pick for the Stanley Cup Playoffs: they have allowed the fewest goals in the NHL this season. Watch out for this team over the next two months.
St. Louis Blues
If this team can stay healthy, they might be the best team in the Western Conference. Regardless of whether or not they can get over the hump in the playoffs this year is besides the point. Over the last 16 games, they have scored at least four goals in 12 of those games. Throughout the season, the Blues have dealt with a myriad of injuries and have been constantly shuffling their lineup around. On January 8th, the Blues sat at 23-14-7 in a distant third place in the Central Division. Since then, they have gone 25-9-2 and entrenched themselves in a fist fight for the #1 seed in the West. They have been even hotter as of late, going 14-3 over their last seven games and outscoring opponents by nearly 30 goals during that stretch. The Blues have lost one home game February 26th and they could have home ice throughout the playoffs. This team is hoping they don’t have to play Chicago in the first round. If they don’t, maybe this is the year they turn their playoff misfortunes into a deep run.
Featured photo courtesy of zimbio.com.