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The Independent

NHL Playoff Predictions

Katie Kelly, Staff writer

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Once again, it’s that time of year where the push to win the Stanley Cup is in sight. The hope is that the Chicago Blackhawks will take the cup again, just like in 2010. As they started the season with record-breaking wins, it now comes down to the end when each win from now on matters most. Once a team is in the playoffs, the season does not matter anymore. This was the case for the 2012 Stanley Cup winners, the L.A. Kings. They were seeded eighth in the playoffs last year, yet rose to the challenge and ended up winning the Stanley Cup.
As of April 18, the Hawks have clinched the number one seed for the playoffs in the Western Conference, and are ranked No. 1 with a record of 32-5-4. As they coast through the next two weeks to see other teams scramble for spots below them, they need to stay focused. The teams they need to look out for are ones that are slowly picking up steam. The Hawks have won six of seven games in April, and show little signs of slowing down. Captain Jonathon Toews has 21 goals and 23 assists for one of the best records in the league. Patrick Kane is right with him with 20 goals and 27 assists.
Out on the Eastern Conference, the Ottawa Senators have one of the best defenses in the league. Goalie Craig Anderson has the best goalie record with a 1.52 goals against average. This puts them at a high position for the playoffs. If they can get their offense to look like their defense, this would become a very difficult team to beat.
Also on the Eastern Conference, the New York Islanders have a young, yet spirited team. Having center John Tavares on the team it makes the team nearly unstoppable. With 11 of their past games they have won eight and only had one loss in regulation. John Tavares has the third best record in the league with 24 goals and 18 assists.

 

Back to the Western Conference, the St. Louis Blues is another team to look out for. With the return of goalie Jaroslav Halak, the team’s defense might rise intensely. Although they have had a slow start to their season, they really seem to be picking things up for the playoffs. Currently ranked at No. 9, they are finishing the week off with a six game winning streak.

 

Above all, though, a keen eye must be kept on the Anaheim Ducks. The Ducks, currently ranked No. 2 in the West, have caused serious problems for the Blackhawks. Behind Captain Ryan Getzlaf, the Ducks have beaten the Hawks in all three contests this year, once in a shootout, and twice in regulation. At this rate, the two teams would not meet again until the Conference Championship, and the Hawks will need to be at their best in order to beat the Ducks when it truly counts.

 

After everything the Blackhawks have pushed through this year, Chicago has high hopes for them this playoff season. There has been talk of playoffs since the Hawks broke records for number of consecutive games won early on. Let’s hope that the number one team can hold on and prove they are number one during the playoff season. Go Hawks!

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