As any long time fans of the NHL know, the Playoffs often have less to do with talent and are many times more related to momentum. Though there isn’t a great correlation between the regular season and postseason in terms of momentum for the overall course of the playoffs, it may provide a little insight into the first round series. Here are the 4 hottest teams as they enter the post season, with their record in the last 10 games listed next to their names.
Boston Bruins (7-2-1) – The Bruins are the reigning Stanley Cup Champions, and don’t look broken down as they finish off the season. Teams can often wear down after a long playoff run the previous year, but the Bruins have the right blend of youth and veteran leadership to steady the ship. Their series against the Washington Capitals may be one of the best in the first round, as the Capitals have also finished the season strong.
New Jersey Devils (7-2-1) – The Devils have been a question mark all season. At times at the beginning of the season, doubts over the viability of this club raised. Was Marty Brodeur finally too old? Had the money spent on Ilya Kovalchuk been wasted? The Devils have put it all together late in the season, however, and the Florida Panthers look ripe for an early exit at the hands of this playoff staple.
Vancouver Canucks (8-1-1) – The Canucks are the league’s hottest team entering the playoffs. They have the top seed out west, and are the obvious favorite to return to the Cup Finals. OF course, they had the most points in the NHL this season, just surpassing the New York Rangers down the stretch, so what with the President’s Trophy Curse being what it is, this likely means they won’t win the Cup. They should beat the Kings in round 1, however.
Phoenix Coyotes (7-1-2) – The ‘yotes used there torrid finish to claim the hotly contested Pacific Division, passing the Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks (who went 7-3, losing 2 points to the Coyotes in the last 10). They will have a tough first round series with Chicago, however, but home ice is still more favorable than a road series with Vancouver or St. Louis. Will a trip to the Western Conference Semifinals be enough to keep fans coming to the arena in Phoenix? Or will it just make the club more enticing to fans in Seattle or Quebec?