There is something slightly futile about trying to project playoff matchups and outcomes even in January and the beginning of February, because sometimes rosters look nothing like what they do when March begins. Or are altered in some way at least. Just look at the Hawks. A week ago they didn’t really have a bottom six, even when Kruger returns, and had a huge, gaping hole dripping gravy on the blue line (might still have that one). Now they might have the deepest forward group in the West.
Now that we know pretty much what everyone is going to look like when the playoffs begin, we can get a much better idea of the path the Hawks have to (and likely will) walk. I’ve written all season that even though the Hawks were not the team they were last year, there really hadn’t been a team that stepped into the gap that I thought for sure were a major threat. The Stars are fun but totally flawed, the Blues have remained the Blues, the Kings had some questions, and the Ducks couldn’t get out of their own way. Has any of that changed now?