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Tim Thomas has gone downhill fast, but so have the Penguins. With three games in hand, Boston can take the division if those games in hands are wins, and they keep pace with Washington otherwise. Or with just three points from those games, Boston can displace Montreal. Either way, they’ve got plenty of room to lock up a playoff spot. That’s more than the 4-10-2 Devils can say. Every team has reach double digit point totals thus far, and four have reached 20, though only one has reached double digit non-shootout victories. 11 teams are no more than three points away from at least tying for #8 in their conferences, so with no huge gaps appearing yet, let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Thursday, November 11, before the day’s games:
Minnesota may have won their last three games, but Los Angeles has won four in a row, and is 6-0-0 at home. And Minnesota isn’t really known for doing anything right lately; they even have broken grandpas at quarterback. The Kings should easily demote the Wild to plebians.
Montreal traded the wrong goalie. Yes, Halak may have been roughed up by the Blue Jackets, but the Blues still have 20 points and are spot on at home. Unless that incident is repeated again, the Blues still have the league’s second-best (tied) defense, despite having the league’s fifth-worst offense. As explosive as Chicago is, they still have to solve Halak four times before the Blues do the same to them.
Despite an explosive eight goals against St. Louis, Columbus will need shootouts, and plenty of them. Vancouver has lost both shootouts they’ve been in so far, but they’re still 6-0-1 at home. Otherwise, it will be a long week or two for Columbus.
Both team are superb at home, and Anaheim does have a five-game winning streak, but Detroit also has a much better defense and road record. These aren’t the Sharks Anaheim is playing, and Detroit is ALWAYS a contender for the Stanley Cup.
The Hurricanes have done well, but they still have some work to do on the road if they want to contend. Especially with Philly only giving up 34 goals so far, it might be a round or two before someone can challenge them.
There’s nothing quite like Northeast Division action. Either team could pick off a game in their opponent’s house, but this series could depend on Montreal. Their 5-2-0 road record means they play well on the road, which makes it more believable that they can win in such a situation. Plus, they have home rink advantage, so Ottawa will really have some troubles if they take things for granted at all.
Despite Tuukka Rask and Tim Thomas’ recent struggles, Boston still has the league’s best defense and goal differential. And at 6-1-0, home-rink disadvantage (possibly even throughout the playoffs) should work in Boston’s favor. Tampa needs to recognize Boston’s troubles in net and fully exploit them in order to win. Or failing that, just go down 3-0 in the series, and they should be alright too.
Tags: Anaheim Ducks, Boston Bruins, Carolina Hurricanes, Chicago Blackhawks, Columbus Blue Jackets, Detroit Red Wings, Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota Wild, Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers, NHL Playoffs, Ottawa Senators, Philadelphia Flyers, St. Louis Blues, Tampa Bay Lightning, Vancouver Canucks, Washington Capitals