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If the Playoffs Started Today – NHL Week 4

Lightning vs Kings: Week 4's prediction for the Stanley Cup

Oh how the mighty have fallen. Thanks to Boston, Buffalo is now the league’s worst team, and Nashville, #1 in the West last week, are down to #9. Pittsburgh is #8 in the East, and Toronto is starting to fall by the wayside. Plenty of teams are offensively gifted, plenty are defensively gifted, and others have room for improvement. With seeds 1-8 separated by three points in each conference, anything can happen in a week’s time, so let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Thursday, November 4, before the day’s games:

West

#1 Los Angeles Kings vs #8 Colorado Avalanche

Both teams have a prolific offense, but Los Angeles has a noticeably better defense, and is 4-0-0 at home. Two shootout wins mean Los Angeles is also good at close games. Colorado had better watch out. Interesting note; the Kings are hosting their East #1 counterparts Tampa Thursday night.

#2 Detroit Red Wings vs #7 Dallas Stars

These teams have actually been rather close so far. Both are 3-1-0 on the road, both are on two-game winning streaks, but Detroit has one more point and one game in hand. Dallas‘ best hope appears to be to take Detroit to a few shootouts (2-0 to Detroit’s 0-1).

#3 Vancouver Canucks vs #6 Columbus Blue Jackets

Behind four straight victories, Vancouver is back on top of their division. And they’ve yet to lose in regulation at home. Stat-wise, Vancouver seems to be doing just a little bit better, and like the last match-up, shootouts could be the key (0-2 for Vancouver, 1-0 for Columbus).

#4 Chicago Blackhawks vs #5 St Louis Blues

Chicago has 15 points, but it’s been in 15 games. The Hawks have scored a monstrous 44 goals, but have given up 45, both tops in the league. St Louis is 5-0-0 at home, and Jaroslav Halak and Co. have given up just 17 goals so far, behind only Tim Thomas. And considering they’ve played only nine games to get 14 points, the Blues are looking like an early favorite to go for the Cup.

East

#1 Tampa Bay Lightning vs #8 Pittsburgh Penguins

Tampa Bay has been on an absolute tear, at 7-2-2. They can play at home or away equally well. Despite giving up 33 goals to 37 scored, just like Tampa, Pittsburgh is a .500 team at 6-6-1. And they’ve had some issues at their new home. With a relatively poor goalie situation, coupled with the no head-shots rule, this isn’t looking like Pittsburgh’s year to be a serious contender.

#2 Philadelphia Flyers vs #7 New York Rangers

Behind four straight wins, the Flyers are sitting pretty with 15 points. The Rangers have a game in hand, but much like the Penguins, they have some home issues. Philly’s goaltending has been pretty good so far, and the Rangers will be hard-pressed to overcome it, unless Tuukka Rask is traded to the Flyers.

#3 Montreal Canadiens vs #6 Atlanta Thrashers

Atlanta‘s offense has actually been pretty good (40 goals), but their defense, not so much (43 goals allowed). But if it’s any consolation, Montreal has lost it’s last two, and to lesser teams at that. Hab nots indeed. Could Montreal be slipping? All of Boston is hoping so, but Atlanta could make that a self-fulfilling prophecy by keeping the attack up with their offense, which is surprising for not having Ilya Kovalchuk.

#4 Washington Capitals vs #5 Boston Bruins

The Bruins already have two victories over the Capitals. And absolutely nobody has been able solve Tim Thomas. If Washington has any hope, they’ll need to use their own star goalie Michael Neuvirth to stop Boston’s offense, which is still the worst of all East playoff teams at 29 goals scored, tied with Montreal. But that’s still having only played nine games, and Boston is still an East contender behind Thomas.

What Might Change Next Week:

  • In the span of two days, Boston has to deal with Alex Ovechkin on the road and Jaroslav Halak at home. Not to mention Sidney Crosby on the road next Wednesday. Boston’s potential is pretty good to either take the conference lead over, or at the very least the division.
  • A home-and-home with Florida then hosting Edmonton? Carolina’s getting into the playoff situation for sure.
  • Expect St. Louis to take over the top spot in the West behind Jaroslav Halak and four games on tap.
  • Colorado has the best shot at losing their playoff spot despite three games, all of them at home. They do have to play Vancouver, Columbus, and then host Calgary, who also plays Minnesota.

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