Buffalo Makes the Playoffs
Buffalo has endured more bad hockey than any other city in the last ten years, but it looks like things might finally be turning around. With a record of 26-20-4 at the All-Star break, this young Sabres team will be battling to make the franchise’s first playoff appearance since 2011. Unfortunately, they play in the league’s toughest division, where the top three spots are already all but locked up. So, can Buffalo squeak in as a Wild Card team? We think so! It won’t be easy to beat out the more experienced teams that are vying for the same spots, but these Sabres are young enough to not know the difference. Although we wouldn’t give them much of a chance once they make it in, a Buffalo Sabres playoff berth is the first and possibly most aggressive of our predictions.
Colorado Goes on a Run
Of all three predictions, this one seems the most inevitable for us. All year, the defending champs have struggled with injuries and been stuck in the middle of the standings. With Nathan Mackinnon healthy once again and Gabe Landeskog set to return in late February, it would not be surprising to see the Avalanche vault up the standings into one of the Central Division’s top 2 spots.
The veterans in the room know how to win the biggest games now, but they also know how important it is to come into the playoffs on a good note. Currently, Colorado is in the second Wild Card position and 8 points off the second-place Winnipeg Jets. If they want their best shot at a repeat, climbing up the standings to better their position will certainly be a focus in the last 30 games.
Edmonton Wins the Pacific
The start of the season wasn’t terrific, but things are coming along in Edmonton right now. The team grabbed 15 points in their last eight games before the break to move to 28-18-4 and currently holds the West’s first wild card position. Despite not being in the top 3, the Oilers are still just 3 points off Seattle for the lead in the Pacific. With so little ground to make up and the big game experience from last season, the Oilers’ superstars should be able to get past the pack and win the division.
Now, this doesn’t mean that the Stanley Cup predictions are next for Edmonton, but with the Pacific being the weakest division in the NHL, the Oilers will at least have a very real chance of getting back to the conference finals.
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