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Stanley Cup Playoff Preview

For the first time in history, every game of the Stanley Cup Playoffs will be broadcast on national television. After last year’s exciting Stanley Cup playoff, that is especially wonderful news. Last season ended with a Boston Championship (ugh) and a Vancouver Riot (yay?). This season started with the Eastern Conference Preview and Western Conference Preview. Feel free to go back and see just how wrong everyone was about every team. Here’s a brief look at your Stanley Cup eligible hockey teams.

Eastern Conference

1. New York Rangers – 109 points – Last Cup: 1994
Henrik Lundqvist: 1.97 GAA, 39 wins, .930 Sv%. All career highs. To win in the Stanley cup playoffs, you can do it with little more than a hot goalie and Lundqvist certainly has that ability.

2. Boston Bruins – 102 points – Last Cup: 2011
The defending Stanley Cup champions did a fairly decent job of staving off their hangover. They won their division and earned just one point less than they did during last year’s regular season. Will they make another run at the Cup and renew Boston’s interest in hockey? Or will they fade away and leave a trail of pink bear hats in their wake?

3. Florida Panthers – 94 points – Last Cup: Never
Are we really going to take the #3 seed in the East seriously? I mean, they play in Florida! There’s no hockey in Florida. The good news is that the Panthers somehow ended up in the 3-seed despite having just 38 wins. The bad news is that overtime loses don’t count in the Playoffs.

4. Pittsburgh Penguins – 108 points – Last Cup: 2009
One point from the top seed. A dangerous team that has sustained excellence without the face of the NHL. Crosby has played 14 consecutive games in his latest comeback and *knocks on frozen wood* he is concussion free! Adding the best (even Dark Room Sid gets top 5 consideration) player in hockey probably won’t hurt. Oh, and some guy name Evgeni Malkin scored like, 109 points this season. I’ve never heard of him either.

5. Philadelphia Flyers- 103 points – Last Cup: 1975
First, they fight for Pennsylvania and then, well, they can keep Pennsylvania. The Flyers were swept by the eventual champions last year. This year they dropped a few points and spots and get rewarded with the what might be the best team in hockey.

6. New Jersey Devils – 102 points – Last Cup: 2003
The fourth place team in the Atlantic Division plays the first place team in the Southeast division. New Jersey had more points than the Panthers. Jersey had the top penalty killing team in the league and Marty Broduer bounced back a bit this season, but is still far from his career numbers.

7. Washington Capitals – 92 points – Last Cup: Never
Did the Capitals win the Stanley Cup last season? That’s the only explanation for Alex Ovechkin’s Dirk Nowitzki impersonation this season. Ovechkin posted career lows in just about every statistical category and even got benched back in November. The Caps still won 4 more games than the Panthers, yet sit all the way down here facing the Boston Bruins. Maybe the Capitals can fire Bruce Boudreau again?

8. Ottawa Senators – 92 points – Last Cup: Never
Never is inaccurate – the original Ottawa Senators franchise won 11 Stanley Cups, but that was about a century ago. Jason Spezza was 4th in the NHL in points this season as the Senators surprised many to make the playoffs and earn a shot at the mighty Rangers.

Western Conference

1. Vancouver Canucks – 111 points – Last Cup: Never
The defending Western Conference champs are again the top seed out West. Corey Schneider had another solid season in his limited action behind Roberto Luongo. After last postseason’s frequent appearances from LOLongo, you have to wonder how long the Canucks will stick with their starter if he struggles.

2. St. Louis Blues – 109 points – Last Cup: Never
Not only did the Blues rebound from an unlucky ’10-’11 campaign to make the playoffs, they tied for the second most points in the regular season. Brian Elliott (#1 in Sv%) and Jaroslav Halak were both solid this season as they split time between the pipes. Who knows, maybe one of them could get hot.

3. Phoenix Coyotes – 97 points – Last Cup: Never
The Coyotes have their first division title in the franchise’s rich history. Despite being the 3-seed in the West, oddsmakers have Phoenix as the longest shot to win the title. I can only assume they’ll make a run to the Stanley Cup behind the strength of their home white-outs.

4. Nashville Predators – 104 points – Last Cup: Never
Thought: If the Predators and Red Wings were a celebrity couple, they would be the Pred Wings.

5. Detroit Red Wings – 102 points – Last Cup: 2008
The Central Division was loaded this year with the exception of whipping boy Columbus. The Wings were right in the thick of it as usual. Detroit hasn’t missed the postseason since 1990. They’ve won 4 cups. That Cup drought though… I feel bad for Hockeytown, U.S.A. fans.

6. Chicago Blackhawks – 101 points – Last Cup: 2010
Corey Crawford has been far from great this season, but goaltending isn’t that important in the playoffs, right? It’s Chicago’s 4th straight year in the Playoffs. I’m sure someone will want to talk about the Hawks in the comments.

7. San Jose Sharks – 96 points – Last Cup: Never
The Sharks made it all the way to the Western Conference Finals, but they were a 2-seed back then. The Sharks’ leading scorer this season? Joe Thornton, who was 5th in the league in assists this season.

8. Los Angeles Kings – 95 points – Last Cup: Never
Instead of making a leap forward this season, they just kind of ended up in the same spot. The Kings made their way into the playoffs on the back of many overtime loses. Again, those don’t count in the playoffs and they certainly won’t count against the Canucks.

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