The defending champs are a force to be reckoned with after spending most of the season outside the playoff picture. The roar is back in the Windy City as the Blackhawks are now in fourth place in the West following Wednesday night's 6-4 win vs. Calgary. A 7-1-2 stretch, including six straight victories, has Chicago in position to secure home-ice advantage in the first round -- if the playoffs started today.
In the East, the red-hot New Jersey Devils are fighting to stay alive in the playoff race. A magical 18-2-2 run has them within nine points of the eighth and final playoff spot with only 19 games remaining. Remember, it wasn't too long ago that the Devils were 27 points out and had the worst record in hockey.
I spent a long summer thinking about that playoff series and what could have been. [The Blackhawks] ended up being the Stanley Cup champions, so we know we lost to a very good team. It's tough to know how close we were, and it motivates us for this year.
— Nashville captain Shea Weber in an interview with the Predators website