As the Stanley Cup playoffs get closer, the NHL teams are scrambling to prove they’re going to come out on top. With plenty of teams suffering from injuries or in a slump, it will be interesting to see who ends up winning it all. Check out our top team predictions and what their prospects are heading into the playoffs.
1. Nashville Predators
Currently number one of the Central Division, the Nashville Predators are poised to finish up the season strong. With a 52-18 record, it’s unsurprising that quite a few people have moved this team int first place. However, what helps them the most is their insane depth on the bench which will be critical as playoffs get closer. Filip Forsberg and Victor Arvidsson both have 61 points while Kevin Fiala and Craig Smith have over 20, solidifying their scoring abilities. Not to mention, beloved goal keeper Pekka Rinne has gone above and beyond all season with eight shut outs and an impressive 67% save percentage. This is already higher than the league average and his shut outs actually tied him for first in that category. He’s definitely not a goal keeper that players want to go up against.
2. Tampa Bay Lightning
Like the Predators, the Lightning are also number one in their NHL division. Plenty of fans will argue Tampa Bay should be at the top of every list and for good reason. They have remained consistent throughout the season, but for now the Predators have the slight edge. Tampa Bay has a 54-23 record but are on a two game win streak. Things could easily push them back into first overall in the coming weeks. With Steven Stamkos injured and missing the rest of the regular season (maybe beyond?) they will definitely have an uphill climb compared to some other teams. His 86 points over 78 games shouldn’t go unnoticed, but The Lightning needs to be more than just one man and prove they’re a great NHL team.
3. Boston Bruins
Second in the same NHL division as the Lightning, Boston is fighting to get up on top. They have carved a steady spot for themselves in the Atlantic division with a 49-19 record. However, the Bruins are suffering from a myriad of injuries which keep them from moving up higher in the rankings. For now they seem to be making due but they don’t have the same depth as Nashville. Luckily, Boston’s defense has become stuff of legend, preventing many shots from even getting near the net. This gives the goal keepers some time to breathe, and frustrates opponents into playing sloppy.
4. Vegas Golden Knights
If every playoff game existed at home, the Golden Knights would probably be champions every year. The Vegas team has slowly become the NHL version of the Seattle Seahawks with dominating home wins. Every member of this team seems to be playing at the top of their abilities. Erik Haula and William Karlsson heave become scoring juggernauts on the team after posting pretty low numbers in the years past. With a first place spot in the Pacific Division and a 51-23 record overall, there’s a strong chance they can win big in the playoffs. Fans will be keeping a close eye to see if that home record of 24-7-1 can translate into away victories as well.
5. Winnipeg Jets
The Jets take second place to Nashville in the Central Division mainly because they don’t have the same bench. Winnipeg is attempting to handle the same injury plagued season like Boston which doesn’t bode well for their longevity. They’re on a four game win streak and have a 51-20 record which definitely keeps them in contention. Compared to other teams though, the Jets have larger obstacles to face to succeed in the playoffs. Also, the fact that they have had quite a few wins occur outside of regulation time makes them a bit of a risk when it comes to clinching games early on.
6. Toronto Maple Leafs
Toronto fans saw how hot their team was a few weeks ago and are hoping to see the team reignite that spark again. Riding a healthy win streak, the Maple Leafs definitely are still capable of blowing all of these teams out of the water. Third place in the Atlantic Division of the NHL, Toronto will need to take their 48-26 record to the next level. They’re two spots down from being at the top of their division, but the Predators and Bruins will not go down easy. Fans are also rallying their support behind Mitch Marner, the twenty-year old star with 69 goals this season in the 81 games he’s played in.
7. Washington Capitals
Washington sits atop the Metropolitan Division with a 48-26 record but they can’t grow complacent. The Penguins and Blue Jackets are right on the Capitals’ tail trying to shine in the back end of the season. It’s inevitable that the Capitals will make it to the playoffs, but this team is hoping to actually perform well there this year. Considering the massive amount of great players they lost heading into this season, it’s already impressive how well they’ve been doing in the regular season. Washington fans definitely shouldn’t give up hope yet because this team is very much in contention.
With the NHL season winding down, every team will be trying their best to make it into the playoffs. Things are looking pretty good for Nashville Predators fans though, with almost every outlet predicting them to be the next Stanley Cup winner. Viewers will just have to wait and see because every year there’s an underdog looking to prove itself.