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If the Playoffs Started Today – NHL Week 12

Devils vs Sharks: Week 12's prediction for the Stanley Cup

Now this has been a good week. The Blackhawks enjoyed a spell on top of the West. We’ve seen a game in each conference between the two best to determine the top team. The Avalanche are retaking control over their division. Even the Bruins moved back into 2nd in their division and 5th in the conference. With new seeding movements aplenty, let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Tuesday, December 22 at 11:00pm (sans the late games):

West:

#1 San Jose Sharks vs. #8 Detroit Red Wings

The Sharks won in Chicago to take the West’s top spot, and spoil a heated divisional match-up. That makes it three straight wins, to Detroit’s two losses. With Detroit still tied with Dallas and one point ahead of Vancouver for that last spot, San Jose is sitting pretty.

#2 Chicago Blackhawks vs. #7 Calgary Flames

It’s another rematch from last year, and this time both teams are known for outscoring opponents (31-14 goal differential advantage for Chicago). The road/home match-up points to an especially heated fight when the series is in Chicago, but overall this should wind up the same way as last year.

#3 Colorado Avalanche vs. #6 Phoenix Coyotes

Except for a pickoff or two, this should be a series of home game winners. Despite having two more points, Chicago has one less win than Phoenix. Phoenix has also been involved in lower scoring games than Colorado, so we’ll see how that factors into things.

#4 Nashville Predators vs. #5 Los Angeles Kings

Both teams are very similar, making this one of the closest series. Nashville is riding a four-game winning streak right now, which they have been known to do this season, while Los Angeles lost last time out. When the Predators get hot, they’re tough to beat.

East:

#1 New Jersey Devils vs. #8 Florida Panthers

Martin Brodeur helped extend the Devils’ winning streak to five and set the new all-time shutout record against the Penguins in a dominating performance. Florida is barely managing to survive in the middle of the pack. If there ever was a sweep in the making, this is it.

#2 Washington Capitals vs. #7 Ottawa Senators

The Capitals are noticeably better than Ottawa this season, and they have Ottawa’s 5-9-1 road record to thank for it. After dropping a home game to the faltering Bruins, and being shut out in the process, Ottawa will be hard pressed to come up with a winning strategy.

#3 Buffalo Sabres vs. #6 Atlanta Thrashers

Buffalo has the advantage both at home and on the road. And they have an 18-7 goal differential advantage. Atlanta has the higher scoring games, so they need to keep a quick pace and force the Sabres to keep up if they want to come out victorious.

#4 Pittsburgh Penguins vs. #5 Boston Bruins

On paper, the Penguins have the double home/away advantage and goal differential advantage. But the Bruins do have a 3-0 win and an overtime loss against Pittsburgh this year. And that loss should have been a victory but was given away with 0.4 seconds left. Do the Bruins have Pittsburgh’s number. This might be a more interesting series than people would think.

What Might Change Next Week:

  • The Panthers lead the Rangers by two and face them. With only two games this week, the Panthers could be out just as quickly as they entered, to New York or Montreal.
  • With four games to San Jose’s two, Chicago looks to take back the West’s #1 seed.
  • Detroit, Dallas, and Vancouver will all have schedules that make the West’s last spot a toss-up.
  • New Jersey faces a tough game against Washington, one of two games this week. If Pittsburgh, with three games, can get past Buffalo, they’ll have a chance to get the top spot back.

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