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If the Playoffs Started Today – NHL Week 18

Canucks vs Flyers: Week 18's prediction for the Stanley Cup

With just two months left in the season, very little is known, or even in a good position, regarding which teams will end up where. The defending champs are in the #11 spot, and the once solid East bracket has now been tapped by a new team. And the Devils are now #13 in the East, now just 4th worst overall. And before I forget to mention it, only one of the East’s playoff teams (Philadelphia) won their last game. With so many points and games in hand still to decide, let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Wednesday, February 9, before the day’s games:

West

#1 Vancouver Canucks vs #8 Calgary Flames

Calgary is 7-1-2 in their last 10 and finally back in the playoff hunt, but they’re currently in line to face the league’s most potent offense, and Roberto Luongo doesn’t hurt Vancouver‘s chances either. With wins in their last six, Vancouver’s looking like the Cup favorites right now.

#2 Detroit Red Wings vs #7 Anaheim Ducks

Anaheim has weathered the storm of their games out of hand, and Detroit may not have the defense Vancouver has, but the Wings still have all the tools they need to make a good run in their own right. It’ll be tough for the Ducks to get much of anywhere against the perennial Cup favorites.

#3 Dallas Stars vs #6 Phoenix Coyotes

Dallas has lost its last three; its only win in its last six came at home against Edmonton. Phoenix isn’t all that and a bag of chips either, but they have won their last two, and lead the season series 2-1 (including a win in Dallas). This has all the makings of a dragged out series, that’ll make life a lot easier on either Vancouver or Detroit.

#4 San Jose Sharks vs #5 Nashville Predators

San Jose has won four in a row to move past Nashville; they even have two 2-0 victories in Boston and Washington. 129 goals surrendered is still a very good number for Nashville, and if they can get their offense to step up, they’ll have a shot, but San Jose looks pretty tough to derail right now.

East

#1 Philadelphia Flyers vs #8 Carolina Hurricanes

Undoubtedly, Philadelphia has to be the team to beat in the East right now. They’ve won two in a row, and eight of their last 10. 180 goals scored is easily the best in the East. Carolina may have supplanted Atlanta, but they won’t be able to do so against the Flyers.

#2 Tampa Bay Lightning vs #7 New York Rangers

Both teams aren’t so hot right now. New York has lost its last five, while Tampa (against Buffalo at home) collapsed worse than a dying star. Still, Tampa has been quite better, and has an offense prolific enough to pull through.

#3 Boston Bruins vs #6 Montreal Canadiens

Montreal has Boston‘s number; they’re 3-0-0 against Boston so far this season, with Boston managing just a single point. Couple that with Boston’s ho-hum home performances, sporadic offense and seeming inability to play 60 consecutive minutes, and the Habs actually have a decent shot to take the series.

#4 Pittsburgh Penguins vs #5 Washington Capitals

Pittsburgh won the first game, but Washington won the next two. Not that either team is where it hoped it would be, but with Sidney Crosby out, that little fake artist Matt Cooke is resorting once more to deliberate attempts to injure people, even going after Alex Ovechkin’s knee. Check it out; he ought to be shot at sunrise for what he’s doing and has done and will do. Especially with Crosby out, the Penguins will have a rough time against the Capitals and other tough teams. Even if the Penguins do manage to win, the energy expended will almost certainly make it a Pyrrhic victory.

What Might Change Next Week:

  • Montreal has a much easier schedule, and has Boston in Boston, so look for Montreal to take over the Northeast Division.
  • With Carolina visiting Atlanta on Sunday, look for Atlanta to take their spot back.
  • Either Dallas, San Jose or Phoenix could make a good case for leading the division with all their games this coming week.

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