Hello hockey fans! We promised we would do it, and here it is the 2014 playoff picture for the western conference! Although the western conference is a little more solidified than the eastern conference, just remember that nothing is absolute yet and anything can happen.
Let’s start off with the Central division, currently sitting in first in that division are the St. Louis Blues with 111 points. They were in first in the entire western conference, but are now one point behind the Anaheim Ducks and are struggling to get back on their feet after a slump. That being said let’s simplify it and focus on the Blues, if they claim first in the west then they will play the second wild card holder, which is being contested by only two teams. The two teams fighting for playoff spots are the Phoenix Coyotes with 87 points and the Dallas Stars with 89 points, the fun thing about this is that these two teams play each other on the last game of the season, so the spot may very well come down to that game. However that climb up the steep hill to the playoffs might not even be worth it, because they’ll be forced to be arguably the best team in the NHL, the Blues if they can regain their stature, but if not they’ll play the Ducks.
The Central division match-up is firmly set in stone, Patrick Roy, Semyon Varlamov and the Colorado Avalanche will take on Joel Quenneville, Corey Crawford and the defending Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks. The Avs really surprised everyone, especially when you consider the fact that they were one of the NHL’s worst teams last season. Roy has done well with turning his team into top contenders and at this moment they sit in second in the division with 107 points. The Blackhawks have had quite the season themselves and are one of only three teams with less than 20 regulation losses, they’ve also suffered some major injuries in recent weeks, losing Patrick Kane and captain Jonathan Toews to injury(although Toews is expected back for the playoffs). The only question mark in this series is who will have home ice advantage, the Hawks are two points behind the Avs and the Avs have a game in hand, but you never know.
Moving on now to the Pacific division, currently led by the Ducks who have 112 points and are jockeying for the top spot in the west. The funny thing to mention here is that all three regular playoff spots the Pacific division has to offer are being claimed by the three California hockey teams, weird to see how hockey in California has changed. Now assuming the the Ducks don’t pass the Blues for first in the west, they will play the first wild card spot in the conference which will be the Minnesota Wild who have 94 points. The wild have had their fair share of struggles this season, especially with their strange goal-tending situation but Ilya Bryzgalov seems to currently be their number one guy and if he can play well it may turn out to be an interesting series.
The divisional match-up will be between the San Jose Sharks who have 107 points and the Los Angeles Kings who have 96 points with the Sharks claiming the home-ice advantage. This should be a great series especially considering the fact that these two met in the first round of the post-season last season and the Kings edged out a victory in seven games before losing to the Blackhawks in the conference final. The Kings have had their struggles this season, especially with scoring but the remain one of the leagues best defensive teams and it should be interesting to see how San Jose handles that.
Well, there you have it hockey fans! The playoff outlook for the western conference! See you all on the 16th! We will continue to update this bracket and page until it’s all been finalized.