The NHL’s Atlantic Division playoff race is heating up! Pretty much every team in the Atlantic Division has a chance at making the playoffs. It’s an extremely close race to the finish and it’s a little too close for comfort for hockey fans everywhere. Of course everyone hopes their team will make the playoffs, so let’s take a look at each of the Atlantic Division teams.
The Boston Bruins currently have a record of 34-26-6 with 74 points. The Bruins sit in third place in the Atlantic Division and are currently in a playoff spot. The Bruins underwent a coaching change after Claude Julien was not doing so well behind the Bruin bench. Bruce Cassidy is the interim head coach and has lead the team to a record of 8-3-0 since his hiring, which is great! The B’s have received new life from Cassidy’s offensive style of play. In the last 11 games the Bruins have scored 36 goals and have given up 25 goals. The Bruins power play has been great and their penalty kill is first in the league. If the coaching change occurred earlier in the season, I believe the Bruins would be in a better position than they are right now. With the acquisition of Drew Stafford at the trade deadline, the B’s significantly improved their third line. Drew Stafford is exactly what this team needed. All in all, this Bruins team is trending upward and they have a good chance at making the playoffs.
The Buffalo Sabres currently have a record of 27-27-12 with 66 points. The Sabres are currently not in a playoff spot and if they want to get there it’ll take some work. The Sabres have to win most of their final games and have to pray that the teams above them will blow it. Guys like Jack Eichel and Ryan O’Reilly have to rally their team and lead them to victory. In their last 11 games the Sabres are 4-6-1, which is not very good. They’re going to have to be better than that if they want to make the playoffs this season. The Sabres have a pretty tough schedule ahead of them. They play Columbus in a home-and-home, they make their California road trip, and they play teams that are sitting in a playoff spot in the Atlantic Division. The Sabres have to step up big time in order to make the playoffs, but at this point it seems unlikely that they will make it.
Detroit Red Wings:
The Detroit Red Wings currently have a record of 25-27-11 with 61 points. The Red Wings are currently not in a playoff spot and it seems highly unlikely that they will make the playoffs this season. The Red Wings also have to pray that the teams ahead of them in the standings blow it. They are last in the Atlantic Division and it does not seem like they will get any significant push to jump past the teams ahead of them. In their last 11 games they have a record of 3-6-2 which isn’t good. Things don’t seem to be getting better for the Red Wings as they will face many playoff teams in the remainder of their season. Guys like Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist need to step up and start scoring some goals to help their team finish in the best spot possible. The Red Wings have made the playoffs for 25 straight seasons but this season it seems highly unlikely that their streak will continue.
The Florida Panthers currently have a record of 29-24-11 with 69 points. The Panthers are currently not in a playoff spot but they very likely could make the playoffs. In their last 11 games the Panthers are 6-4-1 which is not bad at all. It seems that the Panthers are on the up and up. Their schedule for the remainder of their season isn’t too bad, but it will get challenging at times. The Panthers currently have two games in hand on Boston, Montreal and Buffalo, and one game in hand on Tampa Bay. If the Panthers keep winning games, we could see them in the playoffs this season. This Panthers team has significantly improved over the past couple of seasons and are becoming more of a threat to the other teams in the Atlantic Division. Watch out, because here come the Panthers!
The Montreal Canadiens currently have a record of 37-21-8 with 82 points. The Canadiens are first in the Atlantic Division and it seems like they will make the playoffs. The Canadiens fired Therrien and hired ex-Bruins head coach Claude Julien. Since the hiring of Claude Julien the Canadiens have a record of 6-2-0, which isn’t bad at all. The thing that is bad about that record is that the Canadiens won four out of their six games in either overtime or a shootout, giving their opponent at least one point. If the Canadiens want the number one seed in the Atlantic Division they have to start winning more games in regulation. Guys like Carey Price and Max Pacioretty will make sure that happens, and we will definitely see the Canadiens make the playoffs this season. The only thing is that Claude Julien likes a more defensive style of play so the Canadiens will probably be focusing more on defense than scoring goals. In this league, you need scoring to win games. All in all, the Canadiens will definitely be making the playoffs this season if they keep winning games in this final stretch.
The Ottawa Senators currently have a record of 36-22-6 with 78 points. The Senators are second in the Atlantic Division and are sitting in a playoff spot. In their last 11 games the Senators are 7-4-0, which is spectacular. The Senators made a great move at the trade deadline when they acquired Alexandre Burrows from the Vancouver Canucks. Burrows has a lot of talent and with his help this Ottawa team keeps winning games. If the Senators make the playoffs, they might matchup with the Boston Bruins in the first round, provided the B’s make the playoffs as well. The Senators are really making a strong push to get into the playoffs this season, and we can only imagine that they will be successful and will make the playoffs. The remainder of their season won’t be too bad, as they have beat almost every team they will face at least once this season.
Tampa Bay Lightning:
The Tampa Bay Lightning currently have a record of 30-26-9 with 69 points. The Lightning are currently not in a playoff spot, but are fighting for their chance to make a playoff appearance. In their last 11 games the Lightning are 6-2-3, which is great! The Lightning are being lead by guys like Nikita Kucherov and Andrei Vasilevskiy, who clearly want their team to make the playoffs. If the Lightning want to make the playoffs, they will have to win key games and hope the teams ahead of them lose key games. The Lightning have a very good chance to make the playoffs as they have chosen a great period to start picking up their play. I think if one Florida team makes the playoffs, it will be the Lightning.
Toronto Maple Leafs:
The Toronto Maple Leafs currently have a record of 28-22-14 with 70 points. The Maple Leafs aren’t in a playoff spot, but they have two games in hand on Boston, Montreal and Buffalo. In their last 11 games they have a record of 3-5-3, which is not the best. If they want to make the playoffs, they will have to step it up big time. The Leafs have a great chance at making the playoffs. They are lead by guys like Auston Matthews, Mitchell Marner and William Nylander who are offensive powerhouses. The Maple Leafs could potentially take the third spot in the Atlantic Division, but it won’t be easy. The Leafs have some pretty difficult games ahead, and they have to win those games to get as many points as they can to make the playoffs. The Maple Leafs have improved significantly over the past couple of seasons and this year they could make a statement by making the playoffs. The Maple Leafs are trying to show the rest of the league that they are the real deal with their rookies leading the way. With their acquisition of Brian Boyle, the Leafs now have more depth in their lines. All in all, the Leafs need to step it up in their final push for the playoffs.
The teams from the Atlantic Division I think will make the playoffs are:
Anything could happen in the final push for the playoffs, I would like to say good luck to all the teams competing, and may the best team win!