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If the Playoffs Started Today – NHL Week 10

Capitals vs Sharks: Week 10's prediction for the Stanley Cup

The previous week has been quite fun, with teams dropping and entering in dramatic fashion. A full three of the divisions are currently contested by a single point or less. Only the Capitals have an iron grip on theirs. Even the Red Wings are only a point out. Even though we’re two and a half months into the season, plenty of seeds are still very unstable, so now let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Tuesday, December 8 at 11:00pm (sans the late game):

West:

#1 San Jose Sharks vs. #8 Dallas Stars

The Stars were up 2-0 in Anaheim after the 1st in a late game, while the Sharks lost to Calgary at home Saturday. With only nine points separating the two, and Dallas looking to make it seven, San Jose will need to step it up in order to be booted out in the first round (again), even though home and away records favor the Sharks.

#2 Colorado Avalanche vs. #7 Nashville Predators

After slipping, Colorado has won two in a row to move back into a division lead and take the two spot. Nashville managed to beat Vancouver at home Tuesday 4-2, to pull within four points of the Avs. With home and away records very similar Colorado will have to rely on their goal differential (3 vs. -5) to pull through, especially the closer they get to gave seven.

#3 Chicago Blackhawks vs. #6 Phoenix Coyotes

The teams are getting closer, with two points separating these two. Phoenix has a noticeable five game winning streak working for them, while signs point to this being a series of home teams. Still with a goal differential advantage of 21 vs. 7, Chicago will enjoy an advantage.

#4 Calgary Flames vs. #5 Los Angeles Kings

These two are actually tied in points, with Calgary having lost two less games than the Kings. This series points to away team rule, giving the Kings an edge. Calgary will really have to rely on their 16 vs. 2 goal differential advantage to pick off a game from the Kings.

East:

#1 Washington Capitals vs. #8 Montreal Canadiens

The Canadiens snuck back into the 8th seed after winning three straight, but the Capitals have won their last six. Superior in every way, the Capitals are looking like they’ll hand the Canadiens their second first round sweep in as many years.

#2 New Jersey Devils vs. #7 Ottawa Senators

Here’s another similar situation, with the Devils looking like another contender for a sweep, except that Ottawa has an excellent home record and could definitely win a game or two up north. But with four overtime losses to New Jersey’s one, Ottawa has been known to lose more close games.

#3 Boston Bruins vs. #6 Atlanta Thrashers

The Bruins have just two more points than Atlanta, but have played two more games (both overtime losses). Hence, the Bruins could soon be hosting a team that has more points than they do. Signs here point to the slightest advantage for the away team, though the Thrashers have an 11 vs. 4 goal differential to work with. Keep up the good work, Mr. Rask, and we’ll be alright.

#4 Pittsburgh Penguins vs. #5 Buffalo Sabres

Signs give the Penguins the advantage at first, but Buffalo has played four less games. Another four wins and they’ll be ahead of Pittsburgh. With both teams having lost their previous games, the onus is on Buffalo to prove they can hang with the likes of the Penguins, and provide an upset of the New England @ Miami sort.

What Might Change Next Week:

  • With two advantageous games to Atlanta’s three, Buffalo could slide a spot.
  • Ottawa could also move ahead if Buffalo has additional losing woes.
  • All other scheduling considered, Calgary @ Colorado Sunday could decide the division.
  • With five games, Los Angeles will probably move up the standings, perhaps even getting the division lead if they can beat San Jose on the road Wednesday; San Jose has three games next week.

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