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Wednesday, March 15, 2006 

NHL Playoff Race Breakdown - The West

Western Conference

The Top Two

Detroit
Dallas


And history repeats itself. Before the season started, the "experts" had Detroit and Dallas away from the top of the conference, and even sometimes out of the playoffs altogether. They all sighted the "New NHL", and that these teams had older players, and that Legace wasn't a #1 goalie, and none of it made sense. I didn't understand it at all, and I called Detroit the easy favourite to win the conference. How did everything turn out? With 17 or so games still left, there isn't a chance at all that any teams can knock these two power houses out of the #1 and #2 seeds. And it really wasn't difficult, in any sense of the word, to see that coming. Legace, in a limited roll, had already proven himself over recent years to be one of the best in the league. I will never understand how that caught people off guard. And what exactly did they think was going to happen to Turco? Truly baffling.

Detroit probably holds off the Stars fairly easily in the end, but these are the only two teams with a shot at top spot. It has been that way all season long.

Third and Secure

Calgary

The Flames may only be one point up on division rival Colorado, but at this point that is an illusion. Calgary has a full 3 games on hand, and their games next week (against Minnesota, Minnesota, St. Louis, Columbus) should see some room open up. The Avs are going from here on in with Budaj, who is too young and inexperienced, and no comparison for Kiprusof (as much as I disagree with Kippers style, in the same way that I never thought Cujo was good, he just gets the job done anyway.). As much as I hate the Flames style of play, and wish more than anything that they would be blasted out of the water, they have the #3 spot sealed up at this point in my mind.

4 Spot Rocks the 4 Spot

Nashville

The pack has caught up a bit, but the Preds have 2 games on hand and Vokoun in net, so it's not a big deal. Not in the same league as Detroit anymore, and not likely catchable for Colorado without Aebischer, so the 4 spot will suit the preds just fine from here on out. That said, I think the 5 and 6 pots have become very attractive goals for the packs in both conferences. Calgary, Nashville, Buffalo and the Rangers are VASTLY more attractive opponents than Ottawa, Carolina, Detroit and Dallas. Those 4 teams have really shown that they stand out above everyone else this year The 7 and 8 seeds will only be around for one round, they need to fight for 5 and 6.

6 Team Log Jam

Colorado
LA
Vancouver
Edmonton
San Jose
Anaheim


This next section is one one part of the league that is tough to get a handle on. Here are 6 teams fighting for 4 playoff spots. San Jose is 5 points out of the playoffs, and 9 spots behind Colorado, but I almost want to say that their spot is the most certain in the playoffs. Of those 6 teams, if nothing else, they are the best and most talented all around. Colorado shot themselves in the foot in net, LA has injury problems and questionable goaltending, Vancouver has to worry about anthrax coming in the mail, which may take something away from their play. Edmonton did a very good job at the trade deadline, and should have a playoff spot as well. People are calling Anaheim out since they lost too much talent at the deadline, but man they are calling Carney part of that. He's Keith Carney, not someone of real worth. I really don't get where his "value" came from. It's like when the Leafs brought in Ken Klee last season. This stuff always happens around the deadline with defenseman, and each time it makes almost less sense than the last. It's hard to say for sure which two teams will miss out, but if I had to guess right now it would be Los Angelas and Vancouver. Different factors, however, can change that prediction from day to day, but right now they are the least effective of the 6 teams.

More Tee Times

Minnesota
Phoenix
St.Louis
Columbus
Chicago


OK, so Phoenix, St.Louis, Columbus and Chicago were out before the season started. No surprises there at all. The only one that might be questioned is Minnesota. They are only 2 points behind San Jose and 5 points out of the playoffs. They'd have to leap frog over San Jose and Anaheim, who each have 4, yes 4 games on hand, and have been playing great hockey lately. After that, they would still have to catch one more team. This just isn't going to happen. The Wild may not be an AHL team like the other 4, but their season is effectively over at this point. If only they could have brought Keith Carney in to save their season.

i always thought carney was the punchline of the league, i really didnt understand all the talk about him at the deadline. willie mitchel too.

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