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If the Playoffs Started Today – NHL Week 6

Capitals vs Red Wings: Week 6's prediction for the Stanley Cup

The red-hot Capitals (70 goals, by the way), show no signs of stopping anytime soon, especially when they’re gunning for another President’s Trophy. Though the Red Wings are making a challenge. And Boston’s doing quite well, when they’re on the road, anyway. Buffalo’s making a push to become relevant again, while St Louis is slipping. Yes, seeds have been shifting, and plenty of surprise teams are still making their moves, so let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Thursday, November 18, before the day’s games:

West

#1 Detroit Red Wings vs #8 Colorado Avalanche

Every city is allowed one sport in which they’re good, and Detroit made its choice. Not a bad choice, with the talent the Red Wings have. At 8-1-1 at home, a President’s Trophy would really come in handy. But even if that doesn’t play out, Colorado just hasn’t performed up to Detroit’s level: good, but not great.

#2 Los Angeles Kings vs #7 St Louis Blues

Both of these teams have been falling lately. Both are exceedingly brilliant at home, but lackluster on the road. Somehow, the Blues‘ defense has now allowed 47 goals. With home rink advantage, more goals, and less goals allowed, Los Angeles is in a great position to move on.

#3 Vancouver Canucks vs #6 San Jose Sharks

San Jose has forced their way back into the playoff hunt, and has the games in hand to move up much further. But Vancouver still hasn’t lost in regulation at home. That and their offensive prowess should be enough to let them win a lengthy series if things stay similar to their current situation.

#4 Anaheim Ducks vs #5 Chicago Blackhawks

The Blackhawks are actually a better road team, which makes this the one series where the lower seed wings in the West, if such an occurrence is to occur. And with Chicago’s high-powered offense, I could see them taking down Anaheim in seven or so.

East

#1 Washington Capitals vs #8 Ottawa Senators

The worst playoff team against the best. Do you really expect anything different than for Washington to destroy Ottawa? Montreal successfully completed the upset, but Ottawa has no Halak.

#2 Philadelphia Flyers vs #7 Tampa Bay Lightning

Tampa started with so much promise. So did the Rays. Philly continues to surge forward, and is #2 in the East and the NHL. Sergei Bobvrosky will be this year’s unknown Vezina Trophy candidate for the Flyers. And at 4-5-1 in their last 10, Tampa Bay will need to get good again in a hurry if they want to beat him.

#3 Montreal Canadiens vs #6 New York Rangers

The Canadiens have been just as good in and away from the Bell Centre (or as we say in America, the Bell Center). New York has been putting most of their stock in away games, which works out well as the #6 seed. But with 36 goals allowed, Montreal’s defense is second only to Boston. The Hab nots have just been too good this year for New York to overcome.

#4 Pittsburgh Penguins vs #5 Boston Bruins

Ever since Cooke/Savard, where nobody seems to care that Savard was literally nearly killed, this has been the Wrestlemania of the NHL. Boston already destroyed Pittsburgh 7-4 in Pittsburgh on November 10, and their only road loss was to Washington. But Boston already has two wins over the Caps. Expect this series to be a bunch of fights with just a little bit of hockey in between. Pittsburgh is obviously capable of a slugfest of goals, even against Boston’s defense. Thankfully, Boston’s improved offense and Pittsburgh’s worsened defense gives the Bruins a chance, because you can’t rely on seven goals, five unanswered, against any opponent.

What Might Happen Next Week:

  • If Boston can get one point out of their extra game (let’s call it the one with the Kings), they’ll gain home rink advantage over Pittsburgh. Or maybe they’ll get the division if Montreal goes 2-2 (they do face the Kings and Flyers). With Boston’s road record, I’m against that happening.
  • Thanks to two games against the useless Edmonton Oilers, look for Phoenix to overtake Colorado.

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