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If the Playoffs Started Today – NHL Week 13

Canucks vs Flyers: Week 13's prediction for the Stanley Cup

Another week in, and things are starting to shake up. Both #1s from last time were displaced, the West’s middle of the pack has been a revolving door for quite a while, and there is a tie for each top spot. Toronto is 4th worst in the league, so Boston will get a great draft pick. And in the spirit of Governor Ed Rendell, the NHL wussed out and postponed the Winter Classic. Tough, but at least those evil little fake artists on the Penguins lost. Almost anyone could jostle their seeding with one game, so let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Wednesday, January 5, before the day’s games:

West

#1 Vancouver Canucks vs #8 Los Angeles Kings

The Canucks have jumped to #1, and have two games in hand over Detroit to work with. Meanwhile, the Kings have dropped four in a row. They’ve still only given up 96 goals, and are 4-0 in shootouts, but Vancouver is just on an absolute tear right now.

#2 Detroit Red Wings vs #7 St Louis Blues

The Red Wings lead the NHL with 138 goals scored. St Louis has Jaroslav Halak, but they’ve been okay with him in the fold instead of great. Detroit is simply in a much better position, including overall level of talent.

#3 Dallas Stars vs #6 Anaheim Ducks

Anaheim‘s getting back into the hunt, having won their last three games. But with 50 points, Dallas still has an okay hold on the Pacific Division. And Anaheim is only 8-11-3 on the road; road wins have been spotty recently. Dallas still has the edge.

#4 San Jose Sharks vs #5 Colorado Avalanche

Both teams have identical 21-14-5 records, but San Jose has home-field advantage for having one less shootout win. In both games between the two so far (both in Colorado), San Jose has won and stolen a point. When both teams are so close, the home team always gets the tiebreaker.

East

#1 Philadelphia Flyers vs #8 Montreal Canadiens

Philly is back in control of the East, but still has plenty of competition near the top. Montreal has dropped the comfortable lead to Boston, and has some work to do to improve their standings. With Philly having an East best 131 goals scored, Montreal will have a tough time, especially since they couldn’t beat Philadelphia when they were a #6 seed.

#2 Tampa Bay Lightning vs #7 New York Rangers

Tampa has won their last three, improving their goal differential issue; they’re currently even at 122. New York has a comparable offense, but a better defense, and is 13-7-1 on the road. But Tampa does hold wins in regulation, overtime, and a shootout in the season series. Tampa’s explosive offense may be a bit much in this case.

#3 Boston Bruins vs #6 Atlanta Thrashers

Boston is 1-1-1 in the season series, which isn’t what many people would expect out of it. But it’s nice to see Tuukka Rask didn’t have a hangover from the New Year’s Day debacle. If the defense improves, Boston should have an easy enough time with the Thrashers.

#4 Pittsburgh Penguins vs #5 Washington Capitals

Each team has won on road ice, but the Capitals did get a point out of their loss. Pittsburgh has lost their last two, including a shootout loss to the Islanders, who are 1-3 in shootouts and have 30 points. With Ovechkin and Crosby going at it, and Matt Cooke lurking around to injure people, this could go any way at any time.

What Might Change Next Week:

  • Not much, with the schedules set up as they are.

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