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The heat is on

Hockey

March 05, 2020
The heat is on

The GIST: It’s crunch time. The NHL playoffs begin on April 8th, giving teams less than five weeks to clinch their spot in the postseason. Here’s a look at who’s in, who’s out and who’s on the bubble.

Who’s in?: Technically, no one yet, but realistically, there are three teams in each conference that should be shoo-ins. In the Eastern Conference, it’s the Washington Capitals, Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning. Over in the Western Conference, it looks like it’s the Colorado Avalanche, Dallas Stars and the reigning Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues.

  • For something to go wrong, these teams would have to play v. v. bad — we probably have better odds of finding love on Love Is Blind than any of these teams not making the postseason.

Who’s out?: In the midst of a rebuilding year, the Detroit Red Wings are statistically the only team already eliminated. They’ll likely be joined by the Ottawa Senators, New Jersey Devils, Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings.

Who’s on the bubble?: In the Eastern Conference, the Carolina Hurricanes and New York Islanders are sitting in the most precarious spots. The Hurricanes are dealing with goalie issues (no duh), while the Islanders, who were looking solid up until a few weeks ago, are facing a tough schedule and have hit a recent rough patch.

  • In the West, the Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks hold their fate in their own hands. If the Flames can learn how to win at home (they have the fourth-worst at-home record in the league this season) and the Canucks’ defence can learn how to just generally be better (they kind of suck right now), these two Canadian teams can clinch postseason berths.

How are our other Canadian teams doing?: Not great, but not too bad, either. The Montreal Canadiens likely won’t make the playoffs, but the Toronto Maple Leafs should earn a spot (despite them playing pretty bad lately). Meanwhile, the Winnipeg Jets need to win at least 10 of their remaining 14 games to clinch, which is...not a great position to be in.

  • The good news is that the Edmonton Oilers, led by the dream duo of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, have a 98% chance of locking in a playoff berth. It’s been 27 years since a Canadian team won the Cup, so at this point, we’ll take anyone.

Any other hockey news?: Yes, but this one’s not for the faint of heart. On Tuesday night, New York Islanders defenceman Johnny Boychuk took a skate to the face (luckily it avoided his eye) and it took 90 stitches (!!!) to sew him back up.

  • While catastrophic facial injuries happen less often than you’d think in a sport where players strap blades to their feet and fly around the ice at 20 miles an hour, the risk is always there. Take Taylor Hall’s skate to the forehead. Might be time to revisit the cage argument?