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10 Weeks are gone, and while the East has a clear field of eight, the West is still fighting amongst itself. And right now, the teams with the two most points are in the same Atlantic division. The Bruins completely missed their chance to overtake the Canadiens, and now sit in the lowly #8 as a result. The Capitals, Canucks, and Stars are all in danger of losing their division titles rather quickly, while the Canadiens still need to watch out. With only Detroit really sitting comfortably at the moment, let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Thursday, December 16, before the day’s games:
Detroit has a five-point lead in both their division and the rest of the conference. They’re also one of seven team to hit the 100 goal mark, while Columbus sits at 78. Columbus is also 2-5-3 in their last 10. Detroit shouldn’t have many issues here.
Los Angeles‘ 65 goals against is second only to Boston, but with just 78 goals scored, the Kings have trouble supporting their defense. With 94 goals, Vancouver hasn’t had that problem. Both teams are quite good at home while less so on the road, which works in Vancouver’s advantage.
Both teams have 38 points, but Dallas has four games in hand. Despite winning their last three, Anaheim has a goal differential of -10. Home-rink advantage is also in a similar spot as the last series, especially if Dallas can get points out of those games in hand.
Nashville has a significantly worse offense, but almost just as better a defense. Still, with Colorado‘s conference best 112 goals (2nd best behind Philly’s 113), they’re like the New England Patriots of hockey: who needs defense when your offense is that potent? With 20% of Nashville’s games ending in a shootout, Colorado’s power might just be enough.
Even Pittsburgh can’t win at home against Philadelphia, and the Bruins couldn’t either, though they did get a point out of it. Boston is a mere 5-3-2 in their last ten. Philly’s league best offense meets Boston’s league best defense, but Boston has only scored 83 goals of support. Boston has had a few very disappointing losses as of late, which Philly should easily upgrade to crushing at this point.
Atlanta has actually scored one more goal and given up one less; Washington is 3-5-2 in their last 10, including losses in their last seven. Something bad is happening to the Capitals, not to mention that one more win (in Atlanta’s game in hand) will give the Thrashers the division, ditto for Tampa. Washington is on track for another first round exit.
Montreal has lost three in row, right after winning three in a row. However, with a goal differential of -11, Tampa is the worst of all playoff teams, and with 107 goals surrendered, Tampa is the NHL worst there. Montreal is still the favorite because of that; they’ve still only given up 66 goals despite adding 12 to that total in their last three losses.
Both teams have hit 100 goals and have pretty good defenses, though Pittsburgh‘s goal differential is 10 better. Still, the road team has won all three meetings so far, including two in Pittsburgh. Though Pittsburgh is actually pretty decent at home while New York is sub-.500 at the Garden. Plus, Crosby plays dirty, slewfooting opponents, and gets away with it just because his name is Sidney Crosby. It’s like when Dick Cheney shoots a guy in the face and the other guy has to apologize for getting shot. Really, check it out; Crosby just punched Ryan Callahan in the chest with his stick and Callahan (of the Rangers) gets called for interference. And as long as we’re talking about Penguins playing dirty, remember Matt Cooke?
Tags: Anaheim Ducks, Atlanta Thrashers, Boston Bruins, Colorado Avalanche, Columbus Blue Jackets, Dallas Stars, Detroit Red Wings, Los Angeles Kings, Montreal Canadiens, Nashville Predators, New York Rangers, NHL Playoffs, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Tampa Bay Lightning, Vancouver Canucks, Washington Capitals