NHL Playoff Picture: former powerhouses on outside


The Newtonite

by Andrew Mannix
The NHL Playoffs will be dramatically different this year with many familiar teams looking out on the playoff picture.
The most significant change in this year’s playoffs is the fact that the defending champion Los Angeles Kings will be watching the playoffs from the couch this year, failing to make the playoffs. The Sharks, the team the Kings beat last year in the playoffs despite a 3-0 deficit, are also out. The Sharks have not missed the postseason since 2003.
Taking the place of these two teams in the Pacific Division will be the Vancouver Canucks and the Calgary Flames, who have both not been to the playoffs in eight years.
Last year’s Central Division champion, the Colorado Avalanches, are also on the outside of the playoff picture, taking their place in the playoffs will be the Nashville Predators.
In the Eastern Conference, last year’s Presidents Trophy winners, the Boston Bruins are on the outside looking in with one game remaining. The Ottawa Senators hold the top wild card spot while the Pittsburgh Penguins hold the second spot. Last year the Penguins and Bruins each won their respective division and now they are fighting for their playoff lives. Pittsburgh has two games remaining and has a one point advantage on Boston.
Boston can get in two different ways. If Ottawa loses their final game in regulation and Boston wins they will tie Ottawa and they own the tiebreaker. If Pittsburgh drops their final two games in regulation and Boston wins their final game, Boston will be in.
The Columbus Blue Jackets, the Dallas Stars and the Philadelphia Flyers, who were in the playoffs a year ago, are also out.
If either Boston or Pittsburgh miss out this year, there will be seven teams out of the sixteen from last year not participating this year. Out of the past five Stanley Cup Champions, the Chicago Black Hawks will most likely be the only team returning to the playoffs.