With the impending trade deadline and Haikus in less than a week, hockey's second most exciting time is coming around.
Here is a list of the pretenders, contenders, Cinderellas, and no chance teams that should be wary if they want to give up a portion of their future for a rental player.
If the playoffs were to start today:
No Chance in the East
New York Rangers - Even if they get Avery back they aren't going anywhere
Florida Panthers - Nope
Buffalo Sabers - Isn't Ryan Miller hurt??
No Chance in the West
Minnesota Wild - Can't score
Columbus Blue Jackets - Steve Mason won't be able to handle the playoff pressure in his rookie year
Dallas Stars - Maybe this will show that last years run was actually a Cinderella story. Although they have been playing better
Possible Cinderella Story in the East
Philadelphia Flyers - As much as I hate this team, people have sort of put them on the back burner with the emergence of Boston and Washington, but this gritty group has the talent/size/skill/and grit to get them far. They should probably think of getting a decent goaltender if they want to make their run
Possible Cinderella Story in the West
Vancouver Canucks - Sort of like the Flames run in '04, the Canucks could ride Luongos goaltending and Mats Sundin's leadership to go on a run (except I doubt he could score after his helmet got knocked off in overtime like Iginla)
Pretenders in the East
Montreal Canadiens - With so much turmoil these guys aren't making it past the second round. Carey Price also sort of sucks.
Washington Capitals - Before everyone calls me crazy. Remember their number one goaltender is Jose Theodore. JOSE THEODORE. He won't take them very far even with the Russian Firepower and Mike Green
Pretenders in the West
San Jose Sharks - History will repeat itself. Again. Unless Joe decides to show that maybe he is worth being on the 2010 Olympic Team
Contenders in the East
New Jersey Devils - Brodeur is back
Boston Bruins - Any team with Chuck Kobasew is a contender
Contenders in the West
Detroit Red Wings - I think they are the strongest going into the playoffs, although goaltending still remains and issue, but Chris Osgood did it last year
Chicago Blackhawks - I will finally admit they are a good team. THey are also the Flames killer, so the only way the Calgary Flames will be a contender is if someone else takes out Chicago.
Calgary Flames - STANLEY CUP ... unless we play Chicago, then we're screwed.
Of course, it is worth mentioning that comparing to the West, all the East teams are pretenders because a Western team WILL win the cup. I'm putting my reputation on the line.