|Patriots 30, Panthers 7: What we were watching for||Rusney Castillo signs with Red Sox for 7 years, $72.5 million||Connelly’s Top Ten: All-Star Starting Pitchers, Medal for Frates, Weekend||Video: Angels’ Garret Richards Blows Out Knee vs. Red Sox|
It’s been an interesting week. Two former division leaders have reclaimed their thrones. The Predators are actually in second place in the Central Division. The Bruins are actually looking better, though more shutouts and regulation victories would be easier to swallow. And the Hurricanes are still bottom feeders to top it off. With two divisional match-ups highlighting the brackets, let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Tuesday, November 24 at 10:30pm:
Columbus has now lost three straight after visiting Montreal and losing 5-3. Meanwhile, the Sharks have won two straight to get to 36 points (to Columbus’ 27), and is four ahead of Chicago, Pittsburgh, and Washington for the President’s Trophy. Columbus is still hanging in there, but San Jose has yet to lose at home in regulation.
Nashville has won six straight, but Chicago has won seven. Chicago holds a slight edge in most stats, though they lead Nashville in goal differential 21 to -4. This could mean the difference in the series. Because of their winning streaks (the two longest active streaks), expect to see a mix of low and high scoring games, with one or two blowouts.
The Avs have slipped to the third seed, while the Kings have slipped to third in the Pacific Division. Both teams are very similar so far, and with three points separating them, this is the type of series almost certain to go close to seven games, with either team taking the victory in the end.
With six overtime losses, Dallas leads the West, and trails only Toronto, Tampa Bay, and the Islanders (seven). With the close stats of these teams, Calgary just needs to keep it close and in hand. They have not lost in overtime at home yet, and with home rink advantage, Calgary can use it as a crutch if necessary and pick off a road game to make things look even better.
Tampa Bay is the only playoff team without at least 10 wins (nine). Pittsburgh is tied with San Jose for the most (16). Pittsburgh doesn’t like close games, since it is one of two teams yet to lose in overtime (alongside Vancouver). Pittsburgh’s goal should be to take the lead early and not let it go, lest they run into trouble.
Despite having a seven point advantage, Washington has only one more win than Philadelphia. It will be a closely fought series, though Philadelphia’s losing road record (4-5-0) and Washington’s superior home record (7-2-3) give the Capitals an edge that they should be able to hold onto.
The Bruins have managed to compile three straight victories, though the first two of those went into overtime. Ottawa has won four straight (including against Pittsburgh and Washington), and only the last one against Washington went into overtime. Ottawa has a good looking home record (9-3-3), though one of those was on October 24, when the Bruins brought a 3-1 deficit to a tie with 1:30 left and won in a shootout. They’ll need more playing like that to move on against Ottawa.
Here we have yet another series with the teams so very close in their stats, and the Sabres only down by three points, while having played one less game. New Jersey does have a better road record (9-2-1) as far as road/home comparisons go, but don’t forget that that record started 9-0-0. New Jersey will want to pick things up unless they want to be tossed out in a first round upset again.
Tags: Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, Calgary Flames, Chicago Blackhawks, Colorado Avalanche, Columbus Blue Jackets, Dallas Stars, Los Angeles Kings, Nashville Predators, New Jersey Devils, NHL Playoffs, Ottawa Senators, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, San Jose Sharks, Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals