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If the Playoffs Started Today – NHL Week 6

Sharks vs Capitals; Week 6's prediction for the Stanley Cup

This past week has shaken up the NHL standings, with more certainly shaking to come. We have two new #1 seeds, the Bruins are back in it, and the Blackhawks and Blue Jackets are tied, amongst other teams jockeying for position. In fact, the division leaders have seven, four, three, two, one, and zero point leads over their second place challengers. So without further ado, let’s look at what these changes would mean if the playoffs started as of Tuesday, November 10 at 10:45pm (sans the late game):

West:

#1 San Jose Sharks vs. #8 Dallas Stars

The Sharks are once again in the lead for the President’s Trophy. They’re coming off a big 5-0 defeat of the slumping Penguins and played Nashville late, while the Stars are coming off a 3-2 loss to Minnesota. The big difference is that San Jose has five more wins, while Dallas has four more overtime losses. This trend favors San Jose, but the Sharks did get upset in the first round last year, so we’ll see.

#2 Colorado Avalanche vs. #7 Phoenix Coyotes

The Avs’ loss to Edmonton boots them down to second, while Phoenix is hanging in there after their loss to Anaheim. Both teams have been surprisingly good this year, so this series could come down to who can keep up the momentum the longest without slumping.

#3 Chicago Blackhawks vs. #6 Columbus Blue Jackets

Both teams are 9-5-2, with Chicago getting the lead due to the goal differential tiebreaker (8 vs -3). Chicago is slightly better at home, while Columbus is a little better on the road, actually having a winning road record at 5-4. The two teams first meet on December 1 in Chicago, so look for that to be a litmus test as to how this series might play out.

#4 Calgary Flames vs. #5 Los Angeles Kings

Calgary is on a four-game winning streak, recently having beaten Montreal Tuesday 1-0, while the Kings lost Monday in Chicago 4-1 to attain a two game losing streak. Both teams have been pretty similar so far, so Calgary might have the edge based on morale after the streaks are compared.

East:

#1 Washington Capitals vs. #8 Boston Bruins

With both teams on two-game winning streaks, there might be something to this. Washington took over as the top team, with Boston’s help, and Boston returned to their winning ways of last season against Pittsburgh. If the Bruins can keep it up, they’ll have a good shot at avenging their opening night loss to Washington.

#2 Pittsburgh Penguins vs. #7 Ottawa Senators

Pittsburgh may have the point advantage by six, but they’ve lost three in a row, while Ottawa won a back and forth contest with Edmonton 4-3 in a shootout. On paper, the Penguins should be able to win this, especially since it has been a while since Ottawa has been any good, but if Ottawa can seize the initiative and take advantage of Pittsburgh’s misfortunes, they might have some chance at an upset.

#3 Buffalo Sabres vs. #6 Philadelphia Flyers

Buffalo has lost two in a row and is struggling to maintain their one-point division lead. The Flyers have won four in a row and are still fourth in the Atlantic Division. The Sabres may be overrated while the Flyers may be underrated on paper. Even as is, both teams are 9-4-1, while the Flyers have more recent playoff experience. That could give the Flyers the edge here.

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

Riding a five-game winning streak, the Devils have overtaken the Rangers by a point. The Rangers started great, but have slipped a little. We’ve seen the standings start to reset themselves to last year’s standings. The Devils were knocked out in an upset by Carolina, so the Rangers would do well to review the tapes.

What Might Change Next Week:

  • Again, the Northeast Division is up for grabs.
  • New Jersey plays Pittsburgh on Thursday, and could easily overtake them after a game against Anaheim Wednesday.
  • Chicago and Columbus each have interesting schedules, and either could be the division holder next week.
  • The Islanders have upcoming games against the Hurricanes and Panthers that could help get them back into the race.

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