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If the Playoffs Started Today – NHL Week 19

Canucks vs Flyers: Week 19's prediction for the Stanley Cup

The top two seeds in each conference (and Pittsburgh) are pretty safely nestled into their positions, but everything else is up for grabs, with one win being able to do pretty much anything. To that point, four Pacific teams are currently in the brackets, and the last is just a win away. We should all thank our lucky stars that Buffalo managed to take out Montreal in a shootout, or else Boston would be lower. The conferences are so tightly packed right now, so let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Wednesday, February 16, before the day’s games:

West

#1 Vancouver Canucks vs #8 Calgary Flames

Calgary has been doing well lately just to get to #8, but Vancouver has been playing just as well all season long. With such a muscular lead int he West, Vancouver should win this one pretty handily.

#2 Detroit Red Wings vs #7 San Jose Sharks

Don’t be completely fooled by San Jose‘s low standing; one win will get them to #3. Still, Detroit is quite good, and has shown that all season long. San Jose might have some fun with it, but there’s no real doubt that Detroit won’t win.

#3 Phoenix Coyotes vs #6 Nashville Predators

Nashville may have the second best defense in the league, but their offense leaves something to be desired. You might not think that would be a problem with Phoenix‘s mediocre defense, but the Coyotes have won five in a row. After last season’s surprise showing, they haven’t gone away this year, and don’t look to anytime soon.

#4 Anaheim Ducks vs #5 Dallas Stars

Anaheim has won four straight to snag home-rink advantage, while Dallas has gone 2-7-1 in their last 10 to fall to #5. These two teams are going in opposite directions right now, but Anaheim is going in the right direction.

East

#1 Philadelphia Flyers vs #8 Carolina Hurricanes

With two games out of hand against Buffalo, Carolina doesn’t have the best chance of retaining a playoff spot. Philadelphia, meanwhile, is still surging forward pretty nicely, and should take the first round without much trouble.

#2 Tampa Bay Lightning vs #7 New York Rangers

Tampa Bay has been off and on in their last few games. However, New York just won their first game in three weeks on Sunday. Their rather poor defense will hurt them later on against better teams, but for now, the Lightning are looking okay.

#3 Boston Bruins vs #6 Washington Capitals

The Capitals have lost their last three, in regulation, including two at home. Ditto for the Bruins, though. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, because Boston did win the season series 3-1 (including winning both games at the TD Garden) and unquestionably does their best work at home. Still, you can’t help but feel bad about Boston lately.

#4 Pittsburgh Penguins vs #5 Montreal Canadiens

9.93% of Pittsburgh‘s goals surrendered this season (14/141) have come in their last two games, including a nine-spot surrendered to the Islanders. Pittsburgh really needs Sidney Crosby to be useful for long periods of time. Carey Price and Montreal have given up just 146 goals this season, which will help hold them if Crosby isn’t himself or there, providing Matt Cooke isn’t allowed to cripple anyone for literally no reason anymore.

What Might Change Next Week:

  • Look for Carolina to give way to Buffalo.
  • Just for the sake of guessing in the West: #3 Anaheim, #4 Nashville, #5 Phoenix, #6 Dallas, #7 San Jose
  • While we’re at it, look for the last place Kings to make it to #8 at Calgary’s expense. (Last in the Pacific, anyway.)

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