After Sunday’s Boston Bruins, Florida Panthers finale we’ll know where every piece fits in the 2018 NHL Playoff puzzle. We may even know after the games on Saturday if the Tampa bay Lightning can take care of the Carolina Hurricanes on the road.
It won’t be the final numbers but let’s give you an update on power rankings and who has made bettors the most money this season.Power Rankings
#1 Pittsburgh Penguins (47-29-6, 100pts, +22)
It seems as if I’ve said the same thing for two seasons heading into the post-season, the Pittsburgh Penguins will win the Stanley Cup. There is no team in the league that puts more pressure on opposing goaltenders than Mike Sullivan’s team. To give you an idea of the depth of this team, Phil Kessel is a third line winger who will end the season between 90 and 95 points. The best the Nashville can produce from their third line is Ryan Hartman with 31 points. The Penguins power play will lead them to another cup.
#2 Columbus Blue Jackets (45-29-7, 97 points, +14)
It could happen again if the Jackets take out the Nashville Predators today, Pittsburgh will host the Columbus Blue Jackets. Scratch your head all you want, I’ve liked this team all season except for a small moment when they went on a slide but John Tortorella’s team is on a 7-1-2 streak with the finale’ in Nashville. A win there should validate my feelings about this team who are disciplined enough to give the Penguins seven-game series. Unfortunately, it looks as if the Pens or Jackets will not be around for the second round.
#3 San Jose Sharks (45-26-10, 100pts, +24)
The San Jose Sharks will likely be my selection to represent the West in the final but we’ll have to see where the final match-ups fall because the road through the West might come down to a war of attrition. The Sharks will play a smothering brand of defensive making it difficult for opponents to find quality scoring chances. The playoffs always magnify a team’s strength where it’s nothing to see a high octane offensive get 50 shots on net or an aggressive defensive unit consistently holding opponents to single-digit shots in a given period. Sharks lose in the final but go deep on the strength of their blue line.
#4 Vegas Golden Knights (51-23-7, 109 pts, +49)
It’s a slim chance but this could be another scenario where the top teams in my rankings eliminate another highly ranked team in the first round. Vegas could still face the Sharks, Ducks, or Kings heading into the final day but whoever it is things seem to be falling right for the Knights this season. There isn’t another offense in the West, besides maybe the Jets, that I trust more than Gerard Gallant’s team. The only apprehension about Vegas is that Gallant has never won a playoff series but the reality is that a lack of postseason pedigree doesn’t mean that Gallant, who will win the Jack Adams, will forget how to manage this incredible story.
#5 Boston Bruins (49-19-12, 110 pts, +55)
There are two kinds of depth in the NHL. One is having three lines that can be relied on offensively on a nightly basis, the other is organizational depth and that’s what the Boston Bruins have. No team has suffered more key injuries down the stretch than Boston losing Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, Brandon Carlo, Charlie McAvoy, David Backes and Rick Nash to name a few. No problem. Boston picks up Ryan Donato and Brian Gionta while asking Torey Krug, Kevan Miller and Matt Grzelcyk to play more meaningful minutes. The Bruins are scary when they’re healthy and wouldn’t be shock if they were left holding the Stanley Cup in the end.
Top 5 Money Teams (Puckline)Record Units Home Away
1. Vegas 51-30 +1812 +938 +874
2. Winnipeg 51-30 +1684 +1781 -97
3. New Jersey 44-37 +1440 +396 +1044
4. Nashville 52-29 +1408 +459 +949
5. Washington 48-33 +1141 +938 +203
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