Feb 1, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; A general view of the Air Canada Centre during the opening face-off of the Ottawa Senators game against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre. The Maple Leafs beat the Senators 6-3. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

What Teams Need To Step It Up A Notch?

Feb 3, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Red Wings left wing Henrik Zetterberg (40) and Vancouver Canucks center Ryan Kesler (17) during the opening face off during the third period at Joe Louis Arena. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

With the last the of the NHL games before the Olympics wrapping up tonight, lets take a leap forward to when the NHL returns to the ice – teams will have between 22-24 games left to play in the season. What teams will need to step it up a notch to make it into the playoffs, or even play better to remain in the playoff picture?

From the Eastern conference there are several teams on the outside looking in, but they still remain within striking distance. Columbus and Ottawa are only a few points back from the wild card slot – Carolina, New Jersey, and Washington are also nipping on the skates of CBJ and OTT for the wild card. Toronto and Detroit currently hold the wild card slots.

Pittsburgh and Boston seem to be a lock; Tampa Bay, Montreal, Rangers, and Philadelphia are all in playoff positions at the moment but aren’t necessarily safe. On the opposite end, Islanders, Florida, and Buffalo have a lot more ground to make up – it is obviously too late for the Sabres, they have the first overall pick on their mind anyways.

The Western conference has a similar story. Vancouver and Dallas sit on the outskirts, just a few points are between them and the wild card. Winnipeg and Nashville have some work to do, but the possibility of making the playoffs is still there. At the bottom looking up is Calgary and Edmonton, like Buffalo, they are too far gone.

Anaheim, Chicago, St. Louis, and San Jose are running the table in the West. Colorado and Los Angeles are currently in the picture but could be nudged out if they aren’t careful. Minnesota and Phoenix currently hold the wild card slots.

Instead of a poll listing all the teams, feel free to answer one or all of the questions below in our comments section!

  • What team needs to play better to stay in the playoff picture?
  • What team needs to play better to get into the playoffs?
  • Who will win the Presidents’ Trophy?
  • Who will be in last place at the end of the season?

We love talking hockey, feel free to comment!

Tags: NHL NHL Playoffs

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