30 Thoughts on the Beach Episode III Playoff Countdown

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30 Thoughts on the Beach Episode III Playoff Countdown

Post by GigantorTheGoalie » Sat Feb 20, 2016 9:56 pm

You know how every year on December 31st; many people fill up Times Square counting down to the New Year? They start counting down till the ball drops and the New Year logo lights up. Now take that, put it in board room in any WHL arena, and replace the thousands of people with a management staff that wears their ties too tightly. This is what is currently happening as the WHL is getting closer and closer to the end of the regular season and the start of playoffs.

1. Now different GM’s are looking at the countdown for different reasons. Leafs are waiting till the end of the season to consolidate their draft strategy while the Senators are waiting for time to run out before a team has a chance to knock them out of the playoffs.

2. Every GM is also watching the standings. Standings are especially important if you own more than your own 1st round pick such as the St. Louis Blues or the Anahiem Ducks or the New Jersey Devils. The more chances you have at winning the lottery, the happier you’ll be as a GM.

3. Looking at the standings, right now the bottom 3 is set with some room to move around. Hurricanes will pick no worse than 4th, the Devils no worse than 5th and the Leafs no worse than 6th overall.

4. There are three teams desperate to get out of the bottom 10 and that’s the San Jose Sharks, Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers. The three teams don’t have their 1st round picks for his draft and would rather not give a Franchise player up ala the Kessel trade. Problem is 10th place currently has +70 points while only the Penguins are close to getting out of the top 10.

5. So right now the Atlantic division could be experiencing an unwelcome influx of talent. The Toronto Maple Leafs could end up with 2 of the top 3 picks. The playoff bound Bruins could also end up with getting a franchise player in the draft.

6. Eichel, Matthews, Barkov, Ekblad, Chychrun, Reinhart, Hedman, Laine, etc. as top 3 picks all in the same division? Watch out WHL, the Atlantic division is coming.

7. The Atlantic Division is already a threat right now. They currently hold the majority of playoff spots in the Eastern Conference with a sixth team, Tampa, knocking at the door.

8. In fact the Atlantic Division currently has the most teams to clinch a playoff spot so far and most teams with +100 points. (As of now only three teams have a playoff spot: Florida, Montreal and St. Louis).

9. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again; the Western Conference playoff race is pretty much musical chairs right now. One moment the Stars are nearly out of the playoffs, then they have a divisional playoff spot and now they are back to being on the edge.

10. After the next few games who knows what the standings will look like with the Avalanche, Flames and Wild still in the race and just barely out of a playoff spot.

11. And the thing is, every single game has the potential for being a 4-point game if it’s an in-conference game. There are no smiles long after a win anymore. There’s a fist pump sure, but then after a look at the standings it’s back to sweating it out.

12. Especially if you are a team who has played more games than the teams around them. This isn’t much of an issue in the Eastern Conference but for Western Conference teams it is definitely in the back of the mind of the Oilers GM.

13. Right now the Oilers are 3rd in the Pacific with 73 games played and 81 points. The Ducks have 70 games played and 79 points. So the Oilers could easily go from in a divisional spot to out of a divisional spot which puts them back in the dog fight for a Wild Card spot where the Avalanche and Flames have games in hand on the Oilers.

14. Still looking at the West it’s both surprising and not surprising that the Stars are in a playoff spot. At the trade deadline they were a selling team and were named a top selling team in the league. After that you’d expect them to drop out of playoffs. There they are though still right in the thick of things. Would be a hellavu coup if the Stars could make playoffs despite the sell off at the trade deadline. They just need to hope they can win without Seguin.

15. After a GM gets comfortable in his understanding of the league, regardless of the league level, he’ll be more comfortable making moves. A full season is the perfect amount of time to see what you have and understand your team. It’s why some GM’s have made no moves.

16. That could very well change once we get to the draft and free agency. It’ll be an interesting time as teams finally decide on what direction you want your team to go in.

17. Now a GM could wait it out a bit longer, give his team another season in which to prove itself. By then though the majority of the league will have settled in with the players they want. What you could get for a bargain at the draft could easily cost you more down the road.

18. So will we finally see teams like the Ottawa Senators and Colorado Avalanche make a trade or will they gamble on their teams getting better within?

19. Let’s take a look back to the Eastern Conference. Right now we have the Tampa Bay Lightning on the edge of completely one of the most unlikely comebacks in the league. From 13th to 9th in the East and only one point out of playoffs with the same games played as the Red Wings, the Tampa Bay Lightning are one of the hottest teams right now coming up on a team that is trying to get back into the winning swing of things.

20. Red Wings also have to watch out for the Islanders. While the Islanders are currently on a 4-game losing streak, they are without John Tavares who is coming back soon. The difference a franchise center could make in the last 7 games of the year cannot be understated.

21. Looking more towards the playoffs the Boston Bruins could be a contender. They are currently on a 5-game win streak and are definitely the hottest team in the Eastern Conference. Apart from the Big 3 in the East, the Bruins are the only team to have more than 90 points.

22. With Krejci scoring at almost a PPG pace and Tuukka Rask showing he is a top 3 goalie in the league, the Bruins are not getting enough attention for what they are doing. Almost feels like we are being set up for a Boston-Montreal classic playoff series.

23. There’s another “little engine that could” team in the East and it is the Columbus Blue Jackets. No Ryan Johansen yet there they are right on the heels of a (mostly) healthy Washington Capitals team.

24. If the Blue Jackets can move past the Washington Capitals for the 2nd spot in the Metro then we could see a powerful team out early. The Blue Jackets will be dangerous with home ice as they are the best team in the Metro on home ice and 5th overall in the league on home ice. Could we see the first Blue Jackets playoff series win in Franchise history?

25. In case you are wondering who would be a threat on the road, it’s the Panthers who rank 1st in the league on the road.

26. So who are the legitimate Cup Contenders in the league? Rangers, Blues, Canadiens, and Hawks. The two Eastern teams have the best goaltending in the league while the Blues have a powerful top 6 and the Hawks are a proven Cup winner. Plus they have Norris favourite Duncan Keith patrolling the blue line.

27. So what do you do when you are a team that is either knocked out of the playoffs or just didn’t make it in the first place? You either sit on your hands or you go out looking for deals.

28. While the Canadiens are certainly not out of the playoffs, they are jumping the gun on trades. Tomas Fleischmann is already set to the leave the team as soon as trading is allowed again.

29. So who knows what other deals are being talked about right now. Two names out there right now are Alexander Steen and Milan Lucic. So if you’re looking to solve a top 6 issue and want to get ahead of the curve it’s possible you won’t have to overpay in free agency for a top 9 guy.

30. Sending out a thank you with this last thought to everyone in the league who reads all this. Its fun doing this and getting other people’s opinions. Maybe someone believes that the Bruins are true contenders or the Flames are going to be the first Canadian team to win the Cup since ’93. Here’s a discussion topic, who falls out of the top 8 and who is the surprise team ala Florida next season?

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