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If the Playoffs Started Today – NHL Week 16

Flyers vs Canucks: Week 16's prediction for the Stanley Cup

Plenty of teams have already made it to 50 games, and it’s still pretty crowded. The East race isn’t an eight-team race any longer, and the West is even more heated towards the bottom. The #1 teams are comfortably leading their conferences, but not too much else is certain. Even the Devils are making a run at things. A lot of the standings has certainly been turned upside down from last year, so let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Wednesday, January 26, before the day’s games:

West

#1 Vancouver Canucks vs #8 Chicago Blackhawks

With 69 points, Vancouver is firmly in command of the West. And with a game out of hand, Chicago is in real danger of missing the playoffs in favor of their nearest competitors, unless they start winning more. Chicago may be good, but this year, Vancouver is better.

#2 Detroit Red Wings vs #7 Colorado Avalanche

Colorado‘s defense is tied for third worst in the league. Detroit is better in that aspect, and has an even better offense anyway. Detroit is dangerous anywhere they are, and Colorado’s inability to back up their offense is what will do them in.

#3 Dallas Stars vs #6 Phoenix Coyotes

Both teams are fairly close to each other in terms of stats, but Dallas has been noticeably better. Dallas has been in charge of the division for some time now. Lately, they’ve been a little better than Phoenix. And based on how similar they are, Dallas should be a little bit better in the post-season.

#4 Nashville Predators vs #5 Anaheim Ducks

Nashville‘s surprising defense is what has them at #4 in the West right now. Anaheim also has 60 points, but also has three games out of hand on the Predators, not to mention a much sloppier tendency in goal. Anaheim might take a stab or two, but Nashville should win out in the end.

East

#1 Philadelphia Flyers vs #8 Atlanta Thrashers

Atlanta is only one point ahead of Carolina, but has two games out of hand on them. Philadelphia has a muscular 71 points. In a battle of the NHL’s worst defense against the NHL’s best offense, Federer vs the Djoker will have much more exciting action.

#2 Tampa Bay Lightning vs #7 Montreal Canadiens

Between Tampa‘s five straight wins and Montreal‘s 11-12-1 road record, it’s looking like Montreal will have a very difficult time becoming the upset leaders again this year.

#3 Boston Bruins vs #6 New York Rangers

I don’t what it is about the Kings that Boston can’t seem to solve, but fortunately for them, they’re facing New York. Unfortunately for them, New York is quite good on the road, and Boston’ isn’t that great at home. Tim Thomas and the offense need to work together and really pour it on, or else Boston will be going home early. Again.

#4 Pittsburgh Penguins vs #5 Washington Capitals

Alexander Ovechkin has been terrible this year, by Ovi standards at least. Pittsburgh has proven that they can do quite well without Sidney Crosby, and only needs to make up four GAA to have the league’s best defense. Pittsburgh has the edge over Washington here.

What Might Change Next Week:

  • If Carolina can at least push Boston to overtime (definitely if Rask is in goal), then they’ll make it past Atlanta.
  • San Jose’s game in hand has them in a pretty good position to take over for Chicago.

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