The Pittsburgh Penguins may have won back-to-back Stanley Cups, but the teams heading into the playoffs in the past years have been quite different from one post-season to the next.
Seven of last spring’s 16 playoff teams didn't qualify the season before. In 2016, five newcomers headed into the post-season. Seven new teams made the playoffs the previous year.
Hence, Kevin Allen of USA Today made a list of the top five teams most vulnerable to missing the playoffs in 2018. A team in danger is the New York Rangers.
Though they look good on paper, Allen wonders if Mika Zibanejad ready to be a No. 1 center after the departure of Derek Stepan. Several players, like new defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, Kevin Hayes and Jimmy Vesey will need to step to change this prediction...
"The Rangers have enough unknowns to put them on the watch list," he writes.
He also added the San Jose Sharks, who haven't made enough roster additions to compete in the West this season. Although the Sharks present a strong defensive core, the lack of offense is what will bring them down.
The Boston Bruins returned to the playoffs last year, but Allen doubts they will be back this coming spring. There is too much competition in the East, and Allen cannot imagine the Tampa Bay Lightning missing the playoffs for a second season in a row.
"That means at least one team has to go in the Atlantic. It’s not unthinkable that five teams make the playoffs from Metropolitan," Allen explains.
The Ottawa Senators surprised many last season by pushing their way to the Eastern Conference final against the Penguins. Despite the great Erik Karlsson, Allen believes that the Sens last year "seemed to rely heavily on emotion."
As for the Chicago Blackhawks, the Central Division is heavily competitive and the Dallas Stars will be a bigger treath this season, not to mention other Western teams in the running.
"The St. Louis Blues, Minnesota Wild and Nashville Predators should be at least as strong as last season."
What do you think about that Rangers fans?