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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):
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Tags: Atlanta Thrashers, Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, Calgary Flames, Chicago Blackhawks, Colorado Avalanche, Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers, Los Angeles Kings, Nashville Predators, New Jersey Devils, NHL Playoffs, Ottawa Senators, Phoenix Coyotes, Pittsburgh Penguins, San Jose Sharks, Washington Capitals