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If the Playoffs Started Today – NHL Week 1

Maple Leafs vs Red Wings: Week 1's prediction for the Stanley Cup

Isn’t the first week great? It’s the only time of a year that we get to see things like the Maple Leafs as the best team in the league. And it’s the one time of the year when Marty Brodeur is still working out the kinks, and the Bruins, just like the rest of the year, don’t know whether they’re good or not. Fortunately, they still have time to figure it out, but I’d prefer it if they would be good. Seven teams have won two points in each of their games thus far, and only one of them, Nashville, was a playoff team last season. While we still have a chance to marvel at improbable standings, let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Thursday, October 14, before the day’s games:

West

#1 Detroit Red Wings vs #8 San Jose Sharks

Wouldn’t this be a fun rematch? Detroit is 2-0-1, with their only loss coming in a shootout loss to Colorado at home. San Jose is 1-0-1, with a road win in Columbus (okay, really, in Stockholm). The big difference, Detroit has scored 11 goals to San Jose’s five. Early indications point to San Jose not being able to knock off Detroit so easily this time.

#2 Edmonton Oilers vs #7 Colorado Avalanche

Taylor Hall’s presence is apparently doing wonders for the 2-0-0 Oilers, who now lead the Northwest over the 2-1-0 Avs. The big difference here is that while the Avs have scored 11 goals, they’ve given up 11. Edmonton has scored seven and given up just two. That’s how you frustrate a team and hold them back.

#3 Dallas Stars vs #6 Los Angeles Kings

This match-up is like the previous one, with the GF/GA ratio for Dallas being 9/7, and 6/5 for LA. But Dallas’ two wins have come on the road, in New Jersey and and New York (Islanders). That’s not a bad set of wins, in OT then a shootout, showing they can win close games.

#4 St. Louis Blues vs #5 Nashville Predators

This is just about as close as you can be, with Nashville giving up one more goal. Early on, it’s looking like whichever team can hold on in goal for just a bit longer will win the series. And with Halak in goal, I’m going with St. Louis.

East

#1 Toronto Maple Leafs vs #8 Buffalo Sabres

Ordinarily, Ryan Miller between the pipes would sound like a great win, but the Sabres have given up 12 goals. You know what they say, Ryan, winning a silver medal is like kissing your sister. Close enough, right? Luke Skywalker would agree. All Toronto has to do is keep that 12-goal offense kicking, and they’ll be fine.

#2 Washington Capitals vs #7 Montreal Canadiens

Alex Ovechkin has already scored four goals in as many games, of the Caps’ 14 goals. He even slipped one through two 5-holes the other night. Without Halak, Montreal won’t be lucky enough to knock off the Caps again.

#3 Philadelphia Flyers vs #6 New York Islanders

The Flyers lost in OT; the Islanders lost in a shootout. The Islanders are another one of those teams that score a lot of goals, but give up just as many. Philly, meanwhile, has more playoff experience (but New York won’t hand the series over like Boston did), and knows how to hold the other team off a little while they’re scoring.

#4 Tampa Bay Lightning vs #5 Carolina Hurricanes

Both teams are 2-0-0, but the Canes won one of their games in a shootout. Tampa has scored a little more often, too. Carolina’s thing that they have going is that Tampa “fans” do not show up at all. The Canes’ house will definitely be rocking.

What Might Change Next Week:

  • Chicago and Vancouver both have four games within the next seven days (including facing each other in Chicago next Wednesday), so both should be in the standings next week.
  • Hosting Colorado will be tough, but hosting the poor offense of the Bruins will help the Devils and Brodeur get back on track.
  • Pittsburgh also has three decent games to get back in the mix of things.

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