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If the Playoffs Started Today – NHL Week 4

Penguins vs Avalanche: Week 4's prediction for the Stanley Cup

There’s been plenty of shakeups in the past week. Seven new teams are in the playoff picture compared to last season’s bracket (five from the West). We have a new division leader, two new East teams forcing their way into the picture, and three divisional matches (two of them from the Atlantic Division). On top of all that, the Islanders are only five points out; that’s what five overtime losses will do. Some seeding has also been swapped amongst established teams, and there’s plenty of room over the next week for many new teams to enter into the fray. So without further ado, let’s take a look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Tuesday October 27 at 10:30pm (sans the late games):

West:

#1 Colorado Avalanche vs. #8 Phoenix Coyotes

The Avalanche continue to be impressive with no signs of slumping anytime soon, and are now in a dead heat with the Penguins for the NHL’s top team. Meanwhile, the Coyotes are in the opposite situation right now. With two-game winning and losing streaks for the Avalanche and Coyotes respectively, this series would be an excellent contender for a sweep.

#2 Los Angeles Kings vs. #7 Edmonton Oilers

The Kings went from unseeded to #2. They’re on a hot streak, with four wins in a row, while Edmonton has lost their last two. This is looking similar to the Avalance/Coyotes series, making this another good candidate for a sweep from the surprising Kings, who finished last season 26th out of 30.

#3 Chicago Blackhawks vs. #6 Dallas Stars

With a three point division lead and the Red Wings five points out of the picture, Chicago is still looking good. Dallas is only one point behind, but has four overtime losses this year to Chicago’s one. This means that Dallas has a knack for being knocked off in close games, which a strong Chicago team will be sure to exploit.

#4 Calgary Flames vs. #5 San Jose Sharks

The Sharks have started their fall from grace; the defending President’s Trophy holder is knocked down to the 5 seed, facing a home rink disadvantage. Still, they have a new two game win streak going, but Calgary has three. Both teams have the skill needed to move on, which could make this the closest series of the postseason.

East:

#1 Pittsburgh Penguins vs. #8 Philadelphia Flyers

Philadelphia knocked off the Bruins, with the one extra point being enough to squeak into the picture and face their division rivals in a rematch of last year’s first round. Pittsburgh, on the other hand, is coming off a tough loss to New Jersey on Saturday. How fortunate for them that Philadelphia is coming off a 4-1 loss Sunday to San Jose and a 4-2 loss Tuesday to Washington.

#2 Washington Capitals vs. #7 Montreal Canadiens

Montreal is hot right now, riding a four game winning streak. However, Washington is even hotter, with an NHL best five game winning streak. With Washington once more gunning for top honors in the East, Montreal will have a very difficult time, having been swept by the Bruins last year and being taken to a game seven by the Bruins the year before (when Montreal was the 1 seed mind you).

#3 Buffalo Sabres vs. #6 Ottawa Senators

In the second of three divisional series, the 6-1-1 Sabres take on the 5-2-2 Senators. Did anyone think these two would be leading the way in the Northeast? The Sabres have shown that they can put up great numbers in games, while the Senators are more recently known for gift wrapping a game for the Bruins, complete with a nice bow and everything. If anything like that happens, Buffalo will be moving on.

#4 New York Rangers vs. #5 New Jersey Devils

The interstate feud between New Yorkers and New Jerseyans shows itself again here. Still, for a 4-5 match-up, the Rangers hold a five point advantage. With one more win, they can take over for the Penguins. After being upset by Carolina last year, will the Devils be able to pull through when they themselves are the underdogs?

What Might Change Next Week:

  • With only two points separating 1st from 4th in the Northeast, one upset and anything can happen. With the easiest schedule, Ottawa has the best chance of being the division leader next week.
  • With only two games in the next week, Philadelphia could be booted out of the seeding just as quickly as they entered (meaning despite the tough schedule, the Bruins only realistically need five points out of eight this week to get back in, a legitimate possibility).
  • The Kings and Sharks play in San Jose Wednesday. The winner could very well wind up with the division next week, though with San Jose hosting Colorado Friday, they might want to beat Los Angeles just to be sure.
  • With three easy games, look for Dallas to sneak into Pacific Division contention as well.
  • Vancouver is riding a three game winning streak to tie them in points with the Coyotes. They and Columbus will be looking to make their way back into the playoffs.

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