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Barn Burner: Darren Dreger shares his thoughts on some of this season’s Stanley Cup contenders

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Photo credit:© Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Justin Mackenzie
25 days ago
On Friday’s episode of Barn Burner, Boomer, Pinder, and Rhett had TSN’s Darren Dreger on the show to provide his thoughts on some of the teams destined for the Stanley Cup playoffs as we enter the final month of regular season action.

Western Conference

“There are a number of teams across the NHL that absolutely should be top contending teams,” says Dreger. “At least from my position, it still looks like the west is a little heavier.”
“I just look at the Central alone,” provided Pinder. “You’ve got Winnipeg having an incredible year and they might win the President’s Trophy. Colorado and Dallas look like wagons. Nashville is the hottest team in the league – they’re 14-0-2 in their last 16 games – and we haven’t even talked about Vegas, Edmonton, and Vancouver in the West.”
Colorado Avalanche: Dreger: “I still look at the Colorado Avalanche and go ‘oh boy’. Even what they did around the trade deadline, Sean Walker was a top pairing, all situation for the Philadelphia Flyers and now he’s a third pairing guy for the Colorado Avalanche. They moved a pretty good defenceman in Bowen Byram to the Buffalo Sabres and added some other interesting pieces. Then, you’ve got the impact Rantanen, MacKinnon, and Makar. Somewhat a question in goaltending in Colorado, but, I mean I think you can do that just about across the board.”
Nashville Predators: Boomer: “Pinder brought up Nashville… I was just kind of looking this morning and there’s some layers to it. You want to be hot going into the playoffs, but we’re still a month out. I wonder, are they maybe peaking to early? Can you sustain this – obviously not 14-0-2 – but can you still be at this sort of a clip when they playoffs come around. They have 34 regulation wins. That’s more than Dallas. That’s more than Edmonton. What a job that Andrew Brunette has done.”
Vegas Golden Knights: Dreger: “Vegas is going to get healthier. We don’t know that Mark Stone is going to be healthy enough to return at any point, certainly not for the start of the playoffs, but we’ll see how things go there. If they get a little bit healthier, that’s a team that knows what a momentum shift is all about when the post-season kicks in.”
Winnipeg Jets: Dreger: “Winnipeg, the two adds there primarily up front in Toffoli and Monahan have really, really bolstered that group to the point where Cole Perfetti (a 10th overall pick) can’t find his way back into the lineup. When you look at most of the first half of the year when he was on the power play and he was playing in their top six, he was a point producing kid. Now he’s on the outside looking in and wondering how he gets back in.”

Eastern Conference

“I love this time of year,” says Dreger. “There’s not as much jockeying as maybe we’d like at this point in the regular season, but, there’s still some questions and possibilities, particularly in the east with how things have gone. Detroit is winning again, but they were struggling without Dylan Larkin. Philadelphia Flyers go a little bit sideways with their coach John Tortorella. Washington is hit or miss, but still, I mean the Caps could overtake Philadelphia in the Metro, so lots of possibilities ahead.”
Boston Bruins: Dreger: “It’s unfair to say I think it’s smoke and mirrors because that would be disrespectful to Brad Marchand, obviously David Pastrnak, and some of the good players there. But, look up the middle of the ice in Boston. Don Sweeney wasn’t able to do anything to improve that. For a good chunk of the year, they had a 19 year old in Matt Poitras playing centre ice for the Boston Bruins.”
New York Rangers: Dreger: “The Rangers would spook me a little bit. I think that’s a really, really good team and the goaltending there is top notch, obviously.”
Toronto Maple Leafs: Dreger: “Toronto is dinged up here a little bit. I think it’s more load management than anything.”
Watch Friday’s episode in full here:

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