With the All-Star Game now in the rear view mirror, the second-half of the NHL season is set to resume on Monday. Teams will be looking to make a run in order to get to the postseason and some teams are already looking forward towards the offseason.
If the season ended right now, the Eastern Conference postseason match ups would be: (WC2) Pittsburgh Penguins vs (A1) Tampa Bay Lightning, (A3) Montreal Canadiens vs (A2) Toronto Maple Leafs, (WC1) Boston Bruins vs (M1) New York Islanders, and (M3) Columbus Blue Jackets vs (M2) Washington Capitals.
In the Western Conference, the match ups would be: (WC2) Colorado Avalanche vs (P1) Calgary Flames, (P3) Vegas Golden Knights vs (P2) San Jose Sharks, (WC1) Dallas Stars vs (C1) Winnipeg Jets, and (C3) Minnesota Wild vs (C2) Nashville Predators. Will these match ups stay the same come April or will they be different?
In the east, I think all of the teams will that are currently in the postseason will make it except for the Montreal Canadiens. I think they are going to go into a tailspin at some point and it will cause them to miss the postseason.
Either the Buffalo Sabres or the Carolina Hurricanes will be the team that makes it to the postseason over them. Buffalo and Carolina each have 54 points right now. Pittsburgh has 58 points, but they will not be a wild card team by the end of the season.
Columbus will make the postseason, but it is also possible they find a way to trade goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky and make Joonas Korpisalo the full time starting goalie.
I think the match ups in the east will be at the end of the day: (WC2) Carolina Hurricanes vs (A1) Tampa Bay Lightning, (A3) Boston Bruins vs (A2) Toronto Maple Leafs, (WC1) Columbus Blue Jackets vs (M1) Pittsburgh Penguins, and (M3) Washington Capitals vs (M2) New York Islanders.
In the west, there will be a massive shakeup because of how many teams can still claim the first and second wild card spots. The Winnipeg Jets, the Nashville Predators, the Calgary Flames, the San Jose Sharks, and the Vegas Golden Knights are safe to reach the postseason.
The Dallas Stars, the Colorado Avalanche, and the Minnesota Wild are not safe to reach the playoffs. I think the Colorado Avalanche will be the number three seed in the Central Division. They will make a move at the trade deadline. The Minnesota Wild will slip out of the playoffs and the Dallas Stars will as well.
I think the St. Louis Blues and the Arizona Coyotes will be the teams that replace Minnesota and Dallas. I predicted St. Louis and Arizona to make it to the postseason before the year started.
At the moment, the Dallas Stars sit in the first wild card spot in the west with a 24-21-4 record with 52 points and the Colorado Avalanche sit in the second wild card spot in the west with a 22-20-8 record with 52 points.
All seven teams that's currently on the outside looking in the west, all have a realistic chance to make it to the postseason. The Vancouver Canucks record is 23-22-6 with 52 points. The Anaheim Ducks record is 21-21-9 with 51 points.
The Arizona Coyotes record is 23-23-4 with 50 points. The St. Louis Blues record is 22-22-5 with 49 points. The Edmonton Oilers record is 23-24-3 with 49 points. The Chicago Blackhawks record is 18-24-9 with 45 points. The Los Angeles Kings record is 20-26-4 with 44 points.
I think the match ups in the west at the end of the day will be: (WC2) St. Louis Blues vs (P1) Calgary Flames, (P3) Vegas Golden Knights vs (P2) San Jose Sharks, (WC1) Arizona Coyotes vs (C1) Winnipeg Jets, and (C3) Colorado Avalanche vs (C2) Nashville Predators.
It will be a wild race to the playoffs for the entire NHL in the second-half. The NHL Trade Deadline is on Monday, February 25. The Stanley Cup Playoffs begin Wednesday, April 10.