With just days until the end of the regular season, several playoff-bound teams are fading down the stretch. The Sharks have been struggling for a month. The Wild, even longer. The Senators have gone cold over the last two weeks, and the Rangers still don't seem quite right.
But does any of that matter?
You'd obviously rather win than lose, and the Senators and Sharks still have seeding to worry about. But all four teams are making the playoffs. Once they get there, will going in cold hurt their chances?
Not necessarily. NHL history features plenty of examples of teams that seemed like they were heading into the postseason without any momentum, only to flip the switch and go on a long run. So today, let's see if we can calm some nerves around the league with a look back at five examples from the cap era of teams stumbling across the regular season finish line, then doing just fine once the playoffs started.
2010 – Philadelphia Flyers
Down the stretch: After a March 13 win over the Blackhawks, the Flyers were comfortably holding down a playoff spot, sitting seven points up on the ninth-place Rangers with 15 games to play. But they dropped a game in MSG the next night, and won just five games the rest of the way. That slump included a five-game losing streak, and saw the Flyers nearly fall out of the playoffs altogether. Only a shootout win over the Rangers on the season's final day earned the Flyers a spot.
But then: After backing into the playoffs, not many gave the Flyers much of a shot against the second-seeded Devils. But they pulled off the upset in five, then continued all the way to the final, where the lost to the Blackhawks in the case of the disappearing OT winner. Their Cup dreams may have fallen two games short, but it wasn't a bad run for a team that very nearly slumped their way right out of the playoffs altogether.