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The Stretch Run of the 2009-10 NHL Season
NHL Looking To Take Advantage in Surge After Olympics
The NHL will have a fast and furious run to the Stanley Cup playoffs. There has been a resurgence in hockey with a great 2010 Winter Olympic run which saw Team Canada defeat Team USA in a thrilling 3 - 2 overtime win for the Gold medal. All but two teams have a legitimate shot of reaching the playoffs. Sorry Toronto and Edmonton, this is not your year.
The NHL season started back up last night March 1st with the Detroit Red Wings defeating the Colorado Avalanche 3 to 2. Twelve game took place on March 2nd. Also, the NHL trade deadline will conclude Wednesday, March 3rd at 2PM Central time. There have been an influx of moves since the conclusion the 2010 Winter Olympics. Playoff teams are looking to strengthen their rosters full of veterans while unloading some younger talent to teams out of the mix.
The race for the Presidents Trophy (the NHL best regular season record) is between three teams: the Washington Capitals in the Eastern Conference along with the Chicago Blackhawks and San Jose Sharks in the Western Conference. The Capitals are led by Alex Ovechkin. Ovechkin leads the NHL in goals and points. The only things that Caps fan may worry about is the goaltending and defense. But having Ovechkin is a difference maker. The Sharks and Blackhawks have been battle for the top spot out west all season long. Both teams boast several Olympians with likes of Toews, Kane, Nabokov, Thornton, and Hossa to name a few. The Blackhawks have a slightly favorable schedule than the Sharks but it will be fight for the best in the west.
You cannot count out the defending Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins. With Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Marc-Andre Fleury in net, the Pens will be pretty tough. The Pens are battling for first place with the New Jersey Devils in the Atlantic Division.
I have a feeling the stretch will be just as exciting if not more than what the NHL players provided us during the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. It is all going to come down to solid goaltending and the guys who can light the lamp. My Stanley Cup Finals prediction is the Chicago Blackhawks versus the Pittsburgh Penguins. I think the Pens will win in six. We will see how March, April, May, and June plays out in the NHL.