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Right now is a very busy and exciting time of the year in the NHL (National Hockey League).

With playoff spots beginning to fall into place with about 25 games remaining per team and the trade deadline less than two weeks away, several teams will be drawing up deals amongst each other to gear up for their respective Stanley Cup run.

The first of several trades to take place was between the Ottawa Senators and the Los Angeles Kings. The Kings were dealt veteran Defenseman Dion Phaneuf and experienced depth from Nate Thompson on either Center or Left Wing. The Senators were given in return veteran goal scorer Marian Gaborik, although it is questionable how much he will actually be able to score with age and injuries playing a role in his game, and Nick Shore, which is a healthy upgrade from Nate Thompson.

Financially speaking, Ottawa made a smart move for a team looking to prepare for next year as it appears there will be no playoffs for the Senators after such a mediocre season. Over the next few days, several trades should occur as teams look to prepare for the playoffs.

As for the playoffs, although there is still a lot of hockey to be played (roughly 25 games per team), it is not impossible to see some of the possible matchups being laid out.  In the east, Tampa Bay continues to be atop the standings however Boston has been on fire the past month drawing to within one game of the top, including being voted to the top of NHL Network’s power rankings last week.

Toronto continues to improve and develop from last year’s playoff appearance and looks to make another appearance, this one hopefully past the first round. With such a lopsided Atlantic Division one can guess there is a great chance the three teams making the playoffs from this division will be Tampa Bay, Boston, and Toronto.

Pittsburg appears to be falling back into their playoff form in seek of a three peat. Although, Washington still remains atop the Metropolitan Division, Philadelphia and New Jersey have both emerged as playoff potential teams and are currently fighting for the last spot in the Metropolitan Division.

Now, to the Wild Wild West.

To start, the Vegas Golden Knights, the first expansion team to have at least 30 wins in their inaugural season, are red hot and have a fairly heavy lead in the Pacific Division over San Jose and Calgary.   However, with the recent trade with Ottawa, Los Angeles is looking to slip into the playoffs for a potential run. The

Central Division is arguably currently the hardest division in sports. With Nashville preparing for a repeat Stanley Cup run, it should be interesting to see how big of an impact Mike Fisher coming out of retirement to return to the Preds will have as they are currently atop the division. However, the Winnipeg Jets and St. Louis Blues are right behind Nashville and will not make the final stretch of the season easy for anyone. On top of those three teams, you also have the Dallas Stars and Minnesota Wild who hold both wild card spots currently.

With just about seven weeks remaining in the regular season, the post season is shaping up to be yet another intense and action packed Stanley Cup playoffs.

 

Picture Source: MassLive.com

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