Just thought we’d post the Western Conference standings for the sake of discussion. As you can see, if the playoffs started today, the Los Angeles Kings — the 2012 Stanley Cup champions — would be on the outside looking in. And you know what? We’re thinking they’d be pretty upset they only got to play 17 games while Vancouver got to play 20. Might launch a formal complaint even.
Of course, the playoffs don’t start today. They don’t start for quite a while actually. The point is, at least one of those nine teams with 22 or more points is going to miss them. And that’s…something. Especially when you consider 22 points gets you a tie for third in the East today.
Of the current top nine in the West, the Canucks have the worst record based on percentage of points gained (.600); however, they’ve also played just seven home games compared to 13 on the road. Certainly, though, Vancouver is on the bubble, and this is a team that hasn’t missed the postseason since 2008. If John Tortorella’s first season behind the bench results in zero playoff games, well, there won’t be any shortage of Mike Gillis critics. (As if there’s a shortage now.)
We’re not willing to call any of the other eight “locks” to make the playoffs, but it’s hard to imagine Chicago, St. Louis, Los Angeles, or San Jose not getting the job done. Colorado and Anaheim could fall off a bit, but they’ve built such a big cushion with their great starts. Phoenix and Minnesota are candidates to miss, but mostly because someone will have to.
Let’s also not count out Nashville, Dallas, or Winnipeg, though we can probably count out Edmonton and Calgary.
Anyway, plenty of games left. Lots of things can happen. Injuries. Trades. Slumps. (Lest we forget the 2011-12 Wild, who started 20-7-3 and finished 34-36-11.) Streaks. (E.g. the 2008-09 Blues, who started 16-23-2 and finished 41-31-10.) Guess we’ll keep watching.