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Will the Defending Champion Los Angeles Kings Be Left Out of the NHL Playoffs?

Posted on February 15, 2015 by Dean Hybl
If the NHL Playoffs began today, the defending champion Los Angeles Kings would have no chance of repeating.

If the NHL Playoffs began today, the defending champion Los Angeles Kings would have no chance of repeating.

If the NHL season ended today, the defending Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings would be left on the outside looking in at the 2015 playoffs. However, a recent hot streak has the champs back within striking distance and they still have a chance to make the playoffs.

Beyond the Kings, the race to the Stanley Cup seems wide open with many teams capable of hoisting the Cup. The top sportsbooks at rate several teams as good bets to claim the title.

Of all the major sports, regular season success historically has been the least important to the eventual champion in the NHL.

You need look no further than last season when the Kings were sixth in their conference and their finals opponents the New York Rangers fifth in theirs during the regular season only to pull out big wins at the right time during the playoffs.

So far this season, the Nashville Predators have the best record in the league at 38-12-6. Quite a turnaround for a squad that won 38 games all of last season while missing the playoffs for the second straight season. New coach Peter Laviolette and 20-year-old star Filip Forsberg (with a team best 50 points) have the Predators on track to finish first in the conference for the first time in team history.

The remaining spots in the Western Conference could see quite a shuffle between now and the end of the regular season. Considering that 12 of the 14 teams in the West have winning records and only 11 points separates 5th and 12th place, it could be a wild final two months.

While there aren’t quite as many teams in the mix in the Eastern Conference, the teams all seemed to be bunched up with any of several squads capable of pushing to the top before the season ends.

The Montreal Canadiens and New York Islanders currently lead the two divisions, but both teams have only a slim lead over their division rivals.

The Canadiens will have to fight off the Tampa Bay Lightning and Detroit Red Wings if they want to win the Atlantic Division for the second time in the last three years.

Considering they have only a seven point lead over the fourth place Washington Capitals, it will be all they can do for the Islanders to hold on and win the division for the first time since 1988. You can bet that Sidney Crosby and the second place Pittsburgh Penguins, as well as the defending conference champion Rangers (currently in third place), will make it interesting down the stretch.

It looks like the remaining weeks of the regular season will have some exciting fireworks as teams jockey for playoff position. Yet as long as they make the playoffs, where they finish in the standings will be forgotten come June as only the team hoisting the Stanley Cup will be remembered.

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