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If the Playoffs Started Today – NHL Week 9

Penguins vs Red Wings: Week 9's prediction for the Stanley Cup

Another week into the season, and the East’s eight are moving away from the pack, though the top four seeds are shuffling and the latter four are all tied. That’s the same situation in the West, too, except four teams are just one win away from moving into the brackets. The last place team in two West divisions could each make it into the playoff situation with a win, so there’s plenty of work to do to to make it into the playoffs, and in East, to avoid a tough foe in the first round, so with everything in mind, let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Thursday, November 9, before the day’s games:

West

#1 Detroit Red Wings vs #8 Anaheim Ducks

Despite a slightly winning record, the Ducks have a -16 goal differential. Plus, the Red Wings are already 3-0 against the Ducks, including a pair of 4-0 blankings. The Ducks couldn’t do it two years ago in Round 2, and they can’t do it this year in Round 1.

#2 Dallas Stars vs #7 Nashville Predators

Nashville has lost six times at home, five of them coming in at least overtime, including three straight in October. They’re slightly better on the road, but Dallas is up to the challenge, especially with a noticeably better offense. Nashville did win 1-0 in Dallas in October, but can they hold Dallas scoreless again and win with just one goal?

#3 Vancouver Canucks vs #6 San Jose Sharks

Both teams are pretty balanced at home and away, but Vancouver is less apt to give up goals. That was very apparent when San Jose lost in Vancouver 6-1 to end November. Although they’re very close to the top of the pack, we all thought the Sharks would be a little better than they are, and the Canucks will take advantage.

#4 Chicago Blackhawks vs #5 Phoenix Coyotes

Speaking of teams we thought would do better, Chicago is only hanging onto #4 because they have several games out of hand. Still, with seven home losses (5-3-4), Phoenix isn’t in the best position, even with a 2-1 road win on November 10. Though Chicago’s offense and defense lend themselves to high scoring games from both teams, so if Phoenix can control the pace, they’ll do fine.

East

#1 Pittsburgh Penguins vs #8 New York Rangers

Pittsburgh is the first team to reach 10 wins both at home and away. They have the NHL’s best goal differential at 27, and they’ve won 11 in a row. There’s really no way the Rangers can stop them right now, even with 10 road wins of their own.

#2 Washington Capitals vs #7 Atlanta Thrashers

Both teams have pretty good offenses and comparable defenses, but Washington is 12-2-2 at home. However, Atlanta is 1-1-1 in Washington, and 2-0-0 in Atlanta. You’d think Alex Ovechkin would just sneeze and rocket a puck through the net, but it seems Atlanta has Washington’s number. If Washington can’t win in Atlanta on January 26, then they’re in line for another Round 1 upset.

#3 Montreal Canadiens vs #6 Tampa Bay Lightning

Tampa has given up an NHL-worst 98 goals, while Montreal has given up a paltry 54. It looks like they kept the right goalie after all. Montreal may have just scored 75 goals to Tampa’s 86, but Montreal still should move on; Montreal is so good, they’re the only team yet to go to a shootout.

#4 Philadelphia Flyers vs #5 Boston Bruins

The Bruins started December with a 3-0 win in Philly. At 52 goals surrendered, Boston has the NHL’s best defense. At 99 goals scored, Philadelphia has the NHL’s best offense. Something’s got to give, and in Games 1-3, it’ll be Philadelphia (and in Games 4-7, it’ll be Boston). Other than last season’s playoffs, Boston has the edge over Philly even now, but talk to me again after Game 4.

What Might Change Next Week:

  • Look for either Columbus, Los Angeles, or St Louis to challenge for Anaheim’s spot.
  • With San Jose and Phoenix both hosting Dallas, one of them could seize the opportunity to take over the division.

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