Today we’re going to look around the entire Wales Conference and scope out the playoff positions and predictions for each team (except the teams already eliminated). We’ll also look at the always entertaining “If the season ended today” scenario. Let us know what your thoughts are on the rest of the season.

Standings
Boston │ 50-17-10 │ 110pts │ 5GR │ 1st overall
Washington │ 47-23-7 │ 101pts │ 5GR │ 2nd overall
New Jersey │ 47-26-4 │ 98pts │ 5GR │ 3rd overall
Carolina │ 43-28-7 │ 93pts │ 4GR │ 4th overall
Philthadelphia │ 41-25-10 │ 92pts │ 6GR │ 5th overall
Pittsburgh │ 42-27-8 │ 92pts │ 5GR │ 6th overall
Montreal │ 40-27-10 │ 90pts │ 5GR │ 7th overall
NY Rangers │ 40-29-9 │ 89pts │ 4GR │ 8th overall
Florida │ 38-28-11 │ 87pts │ 5GR │ 9th overall
Buffalo │ 37-30-9 │ 83pts │ 6GR │ 10th overall

Playoff Picture
Boston has the conference all sewn up. Officially that’s not true, but the Bruins are back to playing good hockey again and another win locks it up for good. Trailing SJ by 3 points in the race for the President’s trophy, it seems unlikely that they will finish #1 in the league. However, if Tim Thomas can find consistency in the playoffs and guys like Krejci can score some goals, this is a dangerous playoff team once again.
Washington just keeps winning games. A sketchy defense and average goaltending raise question marks about this team’s ability to make it far in the playoffs but if Ovie, Semin, and Green keep this goalscoring pace up it may be difficult for teams to keep pace.
New Jersey looks, in a word, terrible. HC Brent Sutter looks like he could cry and punch someone in the face at any given moment. Brodeur seems to have given up now that he got the all-time W’s mark. “Parise for MVP” talk has cooled off in conjunction with his goalscoring falloff. Of the top 3 teams in the conference, this seems like the perfect choice for an “upset” in the first round.
Carolina won’t go away. As great as the Pens have been in the last month-plus, Carolina has looked equally as good. Cam Ward is playing phenomenally between the pipes, and the goalscoring has improved by each game. Eric Staal truly is one of the great superstars in this league (and I heard he has brothers).
Philthy is faltering at a time the Pens needed them to the most. A pedestrian 5-5-0 in their last 10 games, the Flyers continue to lose ground in the conference. A loss to Toronto put the Flyers in a tie with the Penguins for 5th place, but a game in hand on the Pens and 2 in hand on the Hurricanes make things very interesting in the race for home-ice in the first round.
Pittsburgh, much like Carolina, just won’t slow down. I haven’t seen a will to win every single game they play like I have in the Pens this past month in quite a while. Imagine if they wouldn’t have melted down in the 3rd period in one or two of those games mid-season. The past is the past now, and with the switch to Bylsma this squad has a legit shot at incredible things over the next 2 months.
Montreal doesn’t know what it’s doing right now. They will lose 4 in a row, then win 5 in a row. Carey Price doesn’t know if he’s a great goaltender or just a dumb kid that a franchise put faith in too soon. If this team could find its identity, it will give quite a challenge to whomever it meets in the first round of the playoffs. My guess, they stay inconsistent and get bounced in the first round. More on that in a bit.
NY Rangers are another team on the fritz. They are playing average-to-decent hockey, but everyone around them is playing just a little better. A slide to 8th in the conference makes things very interesting down the stretch. Games against Boston, Montreal, and Philthy in their next 3 will decide their fate. If they can make it through that stretch of games and still be in a playoff spot, I think they’ll live to see at least one 7 game series.
Florida, a team that once held their destiny in their own hands, finds itself rooting against everyone around them. A win in their next game puts them in a tie with NY, but NY holds the tie breaker (more wins). The Rangers brutal stretch of games is matched only by Florida’s, however, as the Panthers play Pittsburgh, Philthy, Washington, and red-hot Atlanta (twice) in the next week.
Buffalo is just about dead. They need a lot of help from other teams in front of them, and their only shot is to win out the rest of the way. The addition of G Ryan Miller helped their dying chances, but it’s too little too late. Games against Washington, Detroit, Carolina, and Boston make the perfect ending very unlikely.

Conference Predictions
1) Boston
2) Washington
3) New Jersey
4) Pittsburgh
5) Carolina
6) Philthadelphia
7) Montreal
8) NY Rangers

If the Season Ended Today

  • Boston v NY Rangers – Prediction: Boston in 5
  • Washington v Montreal – Prediction: Washington in 6
  • New Jersey v Pittsburgh – Prediction: Pittsburgh in 5
  • Carolina v Philadelphia – Prediction: Carolina in 6

If the Season Ends as I Predict

  • Boston v NY Rangers – Prediction: Boston in 5
  • Washington v Montreal – Prediction: Washington in 6
  • New Jersey v Philadelphia – Prediction: Philthy in 6
  • Pittsburgh v Carolina – Prediction: Pittsburgh in 7

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