By Peter Bolt
Eastern Conference Playoff Seed Prediction:
1. Tampa Bay Lightning
The Lightning are currently 6 points ahead of the Boston Bruins, however the Bruins do have 3 games in hand on the Bolts. I think the Lightning are slightly the better team, especially after acquiring Ryan McDonagh and J.T. Miller. Out of the Bolts 16 remaining games, 11 of them are home and only 5 are on the road which is a huge advantage for closing out the season on top. I really think this is the Lightning’s Year.
2. Boston Bruins
As I mentioned above, I think the Bruins are just a step behind the Lightning. The Bruins made it clear that they are making a push this year when they acquired Rick Nash and Nick Holden at the trade deadline. Boston also recently signed Brian Gionta to add some depth and experience to their lineup in their chase of catching the Lightning. I think the Bruins are going to fall a couple points short of 1st and should finish 2nd in the Atlantic easily.
3. Toronto Maple Leafs
The Leafs should finish 3rd the Atlantic as the Panthers are the closest team to catching them being 17 points behind with 5 games in hand….yeah not going to happen. I believe the Maple Leafs have a slim chance of finishing ahead of the Bruins, being only 3 points behind the B’s however, the Bruins have played 4 less games. It is pretty safe to assume the Leafs have the 3rd seed in the Atlantic locked up.
1. Philadelphia Flyers
The Flyers are currently 2nd in the Metropolitan Division and are 3 points behind the Washington Capitals, even in games played. I think the Flyers can pass the Capitals as they have been one of the hottest teams in the league since their ten-game losing streak early in the season. The Flyers are (7-1-2) in their last ten and are firing on all cylinders. I really think they will pass the Capitals by the end of the season.
2. Pittsburgh Penguins
The Pittsburgh Penguins have really turned their season around. In the beginning of the year the Pens looked nothing like the back-to-back Stanley Cup Champions that we are accustomed to. The Penguins have been red hot, going (7-3-0) in their last ten and have looked much stronger defensively as of late. The Penguins are (9-4-1) since the start of February and always find a way to turn it up going into the playoffs.
3. Washington Capitals
It's obvious that the Capitals have lost some of their depth since last season and are not the same powerhouse that we saw last season. The Capitals have gone (5-4-1) in their last ten, and out of their 17 games remaining 10 are on the road. I think it’s unlikely the Caps finish first in the Metro this year.
1. Florida Panthers
The Florida Panthers have been red hot going (8-2-0) in their last ten and are only 4 points behind the New Jersey Devils with 2 less games played. The Panthers have won 6 in a row and really putting the pressure on the Devils. The Panthers have been looking better every game and have been finding a way to win which is all that matters at this point in the season. I think they get the first wild card spot.
2. New Jersey Devils
I think the New Jersey Devils will beat out the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Devils are currently 5 points ahead of the Jackets and Hurricanes with the same amount of games played. Although the Devils have been very inconsistent this season, they have gone (6-4-0) in their last ten and Cory Schneider is finally back in the lineup. With the addition of Michael Grabner and Patrick Maroon, I think the Devils get the job done and beat out the Blue Jackets as well as the Hurricanes.
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