Most NHL teams have less than 10 games remaining on their shortened 2013 regular season schedule, and the final month is setup to be a whirlwind for teams in both conferences as the finish line approaches. A busy trade deadline saw Eastern Conference powers like the Pittsburgh Penguins and Boston Bruins fill gaps for a deep playoff run while teams such as the New York Rangers made a big trade to spark the team to a playoff berth. The Washington Capitals had a slow, disappointing start to their season, but after being all but written off by many analysts, the Caps and Captain Alexander Ovechkin have surged to the top of their division and a number three seed in the Eastern Conference tournament. Nothing’s guaranteed yet, but they are an example of “peaking at the right time.” Last year’s Eastern Conference champion New Jersey Devils are currently on the outside looking in, but a few key games in the next two weeks could see them get back into the tournament to defend their title.
In the Western Conference, the St. Louis Blues pulled a couple of moves similar to the Rangers, as they have loaded up their blue line with premier defensemen to try helping their goaltending elevate to last year’s top-ranking standard. This all is an effort to both secure a playoff spot and prepare for a likely matchup with one of the three division champs. At this point, they are likely to draw once-streaking Chicago, the somewhat slumping Anaheim Ducks, or the very hot Vancouver Canucks in the first round. Vancouver’s had a lot of questions regarding one-time-franchise goalie Roberto Luongo, but they’ve been able to keep those at bay – especially after a speculative trade deadline – because of the stellar play of Cory Schneider. His play, coupled with the usual great play of the Sedin twins & a fanbase helmed by the notorious Green Men, has led the Canucks to the head of the Northwest division with at least a shot at the No. 2 seed. The prospective playoff matchups you see in either conference today are likely to change tomorrow, so check back here to keep up to date on the scenarios!