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Playoff Predictions – Round One

playoffs
Over the next two days 16 teams will begin their quest to be named the 2015 Stanley Cup Champions. This season there are a few teams missing that are usually regulars in the playoffs, such as the Boston Bruins and last year’s champions, the Los Angeles Kings. They can thank the Winnipeg Jets, Calgary Flames, Ottawa Senators, and New York Islanders, all teams that have not frequented the playoff picture in recent years, but have had a change in fortune this season. The 2014-2015 campaign was a tight race to the postseason, so hockey fans are guaranteed tough match-ups throughout the first round and beyond. That is why it will be harder this year than in the past to predict which club will come out on top, but we are going to give it our best try.

Western Conference

WildBluesMinnesota Wild vs St. Louis Blues
Marc’s Prediction: St. Louis Blues, 6 games
Ryan’s Prediction: St. Louis Blues, 5 games

hawkspredsNashville Predators vs Chicago Blackhawks
Marc’s Prediction: Chicago Blackhawks, 6 games
Ryan’s Prediction: Nashville Predators, 7 games

NHL: DEC 07 Ducks at JetsAnaheim Ducks vs Winnipeg Jets
Marc’s Prediction: Anaheim Ducks, 7 games
Ryan’s Prediction: Anaheim Ducks, 6 games

nucksflamesVancouver Canucks vs Calgary Flames
Marc’s Prediction: Calgary Flames, 6 games
Ryan’s Prediction: Vancouver Canucks, 6 games

Eastern Conference

habssensMontreal Canadiens vs Ottawa Senators
Marc’s Prediction: Montreal Canadiens, 7 games
Ryan’s Prediction: Ottawa Senators, 7 games

Tampa Bay Lightning v Detroit Red WingsTampa Bay Lightning vs Detroit Red Wings
Marc’s Prediction: Tampa Bay Lightning, 5 games
Ryan’s Prediction: Tampa Bay Lightning, 7 games

pengsragsNew York Rangers vs Pittsburgh Penguins
Marc’s Prediction: New York Rangers, 4 games
Ryan’s Prediction: New York Rangers, 6 games

capsislesWashington Capitals vs New York Islanders
Marc’s Prediction: Washington Capitals, 6 games
Ryan’s Prediction: Washington Capitals, 7 games

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The Playoff Race: By The Numbers

playoff push

The Florida Panthers, Ottawa Senators, and Boston Bruins are currently locked into the tightest playoff race in recent years. Only four points separate the three teams, with Boston holding onto the final wildcard spot in the Eastern Conference. The Senators and Panthers are right behind the Bruins, with ten games remaining for the Cats, nine for the B’s, and eleven for the Sens. To makes things easier to follow here is a statistical breakdown for all three clubs.

standings

Points For

As stated above, only four points separate The Bruins, Senators, and Panthers from the final wildcard spot. Florida’s win in the shootout against Boston, and Ottawa’s regulation victory over Toronto on March 21st gives BOS 84, OTT 83, and FLA 80 points. This means that the Senators are only one point away from passing the Bruins, with two games in hand. Meanwhile, Florida sits three points behind Ottawa and four behind Boston with one game remaining against the Sens and two versus the B’s.

The Last Ten

The record of a hockey team is a good indication of how well that club is playing, and the last ten shows just how hot, or cold, they are. With a record of 9-1 in their last ten games there is no team in the NHL hotter than the Ottawa Senators. A lot of their success is thanks to 27 year old rookie goaltender, Andrew Hammond. The Sens netminder has posted a record of 13-0-1 with a .947 save percentage and 1.65 goals against average. If Ottawa wants to make the playoffs they are going to need the hamburglar at his best for their final eleven games.

Boston is currently trending in the opposite direction, losing their last five games. They have struggled offensively and on their powerplay while posting a 5-3-2 record in ten games. The Bruins slump has allowed the Panthers and Senators to gain ground on that final wildcard position in the Eastern Conference. If Boston wants to stay ahead in the playoff race they will need to fix their special teams.

The Panthers just refuse to die, but have the toughest challenge ahead of them. Giving Boston a loser point in the shootout on Saturday night did not help their cause, but at least they gained an extra point in the wildcard race. Florida is 6-3-1 in their last ten and have ten games remaining. Included in those final contests are two meetings against Boston and one versus Ottawa. Members of the media state that the Panthers will have to go 8-2 in their final ten games to have a chance at making the postseason, and that includes picking up wins against The Bruins and Senators.

What’s Left

bosDucks @ Bruins – 3/26
Rangers @ Bruins – 3/28
Bruins @ Hurricanes – 3/29
Panthers @ Bruins – 3/31
Bruins @ Red Wings – 4/2
Maple Leafs @ Bruins – 4/4
Bruins @ Capitals – 4/8
Bruins @ Panthers – 4/9
Bruins @ Lightning – 4/11

flaPanthers @ Lightning – 3/24
Panthers @ Maple Leafs – 3/26
Panthers @ Canadiens – 3/28
Panthers @ Senators – 3/29
Panthers @ Bruins – 3/31
Hurricanes @ Panthers – 4/2
Lightning @ Panthers – 4/4
Canadiens @ Panthers – 4/5
Bruins @ Panthers – 4/9
Devils @ Panthers – 4/11

ottSharks @ Senators – 3/23
Rangers @ Senators – 3/26
Senators @ Maple Leafs – 3/28
Panthers @ Senators – 3/29
Senators @ Red Wings – 3/31
Lightning @ Senators – 4/2
Capitals @ Senators – 4/4
Senators @ Maple Leafs – 4/5
Penguins @ Senators – 4/7
Senators @ Rangers – 4/9
Senators @ Flyers – 4/11

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Florida Panthers First Round Schedule

Just a little over 30 minutes ago the National Hockey League released the 2012 Stanley Cup Quarterfinal schedule for all eight match-ups. While many fans believed that the Panthers would play their first game on either Wednesday or Thursday of next week that is not the case. Florida will play host to the New Jersey Devils for game one on Friday, April 13th at 7:00 PM EST at the BankAtlantic Center. The complete schedule for the New Jersey/Florida series is as follows:

#3 Florida Panthers vs #6 New Jersey Devils

Game 1: New Jersey at Florida – Friday, April 13th at 7:00 PM EST
Game 2: New Jersey at Florida – Sunday, April 15th at 7:30 PM EST
Game 3: Florida at New Jersey – Tuesday, April 17th at 7:00 PM EST
Game 4: Florida at New Jersey – Thursday, April 19th at 7:00 PM EST
Game 5: New Jersey at Florida – Saturday, April 21st at 6:30 PM EST*
Game 6: Florida at New Jersey – Tuesday, April 24th at TBD*
Game 7: New Jersey at Florida – Thursday, April 26th at TBD*

(* If necessary)

For the complete list of scheduled times for all 16 teams in the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs click here. Stay tuned to Sunshine State Hockey for daily playoff coverage as well as our preview of the round one match-up between the Southeast Division Champion Florida Panthers and the New Jersey Devils.

Source: NHL.com
Image Credit: Miami Herald