Three Hottest NHL Teams Heading into the Playoffs

Eric LaForgeCorrespondent IApril 14, 2010

CHICAGO - APRIL 11: Niklas Kronwall #55 and Henrik Zetterberg #40 of the Detroit Red Wings celebrate the winning goal against the Chicago Blackhawks by teammate Brad Stuart at the United Center on April 11, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Red Wings defeated the Blackhawks 3-2 in overtime. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

#3. Boston Bruins

This isn't something that I would have predicted a few weeks ago. Many fans didn't even think they would make the playoffs. In the month of January, they only won three games and went 10 consecutive games without a win between late January and early February.

Recently, that terrible play hasn't existed. They have been winning more games and, in my opinion, are the third hottest team heading into the playoffs.

The Bruins play great defensively. They have to because their offense was ranked dead last in the NHL. This defensive play leads to many low scoring games, and can make it difficult for some of the NHL's best teams to beat the Bruins.

During their last 10 games, the Bruins have gone 6-3-1, and are heading into the playoffs on a three game winning streak. However, the biggest thing that makes them number three is who they've beaten. The Bruins ended their season with a 4-3 shootout victory over the Washington Capitals, and before that they scored a 3-1 victory over Buffalo, a 1-0 victory over the Devils, and a 5-0 destruction of the Calgary Flames.

Although they're not the favorite in the series between them and Buffalo, the Bruins should make it entertaining. I actually said in my first round predictions that Boston would beat Buffalo because of how they've been playing recently plus the fact that they took the season series. Probable? No, but certainly possible.

#2. San Jose Sharks

For a number one seed, the San Jose Sharks have gone on a couple of really bad streaks. Twice this season, the Sharks went five consecutive games without a win. The most recent of those bad streaks, was only a few weeks ago when they lost five straight to the Ducks, Stars, Canucks, Flames, and Oilers.

However, during their last 10 games they have gone 8-1-1, and are another hot team heading into the playoffs.

Even if San Jose wasn't on a hot streak, they would still be a dangerous team. The fact that they are hot before the playoffs should be a huge concern for the Colorado Avalanche, or any other team they face in the playoffs.

The problem is that San Jose is even more determined to get into the second round this year. After last year's embarrassing loss to the Anaheim Ducks, the Sharks are looking to redeem themselves. I think it's unlikely that this team will step off the gas in any round. Any team they face will have a hard time because they are good, they're hot, and they're determined to win.

#1. Detroit Red Wings

This one's a bit of a no-brainer. The Red Wings had a spectacular March and April. Like the Sharks, the Wings are 8-1-1 in their last 10. The difference is that they have been playing great hockey for the last month and a half. In fact, the Wings have only lost three games in regulation since March 1st.

For the Wings, everything has been happening at the right time. Jimmy Howard has been amazing all season long, but he's been very good over the last month and a half. More importantly, the Wings were able to get a bunch of players back from injury. Johnan Franzen is the most notable return because he missed most of the season with a serious knee injury.

No team wants to face Detroit in the first (or any) round of the playoffs. They have a ton of talented players, and many of them have played in the postseason before.

Any team that faces them, will have to get past their experience, skill, and confidence to pull away with the series. In no way do you want to count this team out of anything, because they have the ability to go far.

See More of my NHL Opinions at Tips for Hockey