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If the Playoffs Started Today – NHL Week 22

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

Only one month remains in the season, and there’s still a lot to be hashed out. The Devils are still making an improbable run. Five points separates #4 from #11 out west. Even the Flyers aren’t safe, with Boston and now Washington right behind them. One of the few sure things right now appears to be Vancouver winning the President’s Trophy. So with so many teams so bunched together, let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Wednesday, March 9, before the day’s games:

West

#1 Vancouver Canucks vs #8 Los Angeles Kings

The Canucks have resumed their winning ways, while the Kings haven’t been quite as fortunate. Especially in the middle of that crowded bracket, just one turnover in one game could cost the Kings everything. That won’t leave much energy left to fight off Vancouver.

#2 Detroit Red Wings vs #7 Calgary Flames

Detroit has lost its last three, though has salvaged two points out of the deal. Calgary has won two in a row, and is 7-2-1 in its last 10. Detroit did sweep the season series, though, and they’re still in #2, at least until the Sharks’ run continues, so Detroit is still the clear favorite.

#3 San Jose Sharks vs #6 Phoenix Coyotes

San Jose is the hottest team in the NHL right now. They’re 9-1-0 in their last 10. They’re two points out of #2. Phoenix has lost six of seven now. That’s given them a -4 goal differential, which San Jose should have no problem taking advantage of.

#4 Chicago Blackhawks vs #5 Dallas Stars

Dallas has won five out of six to get back to #5, and before Chicago‘s loss on Tuesday, they won eight in a row. Dallas is slightly leading the season series, but Chicago’s offense has been much more productive overall. If Chicago can manage to keep home-rink advantage, that could make the difference.

East

#1 Philadelphia Flyers vs #8 Buffalo Sabres

Yeah, Philadelphia beat Edmonton, but they lost four in a row before that, including a home game against Buffalo. The Sabres have seven of ten points so far from their road trip. They’re a hit-or-miss team overall, but as long as Ryan Miller stays true to his form, Philly is in danger unless they rediscover their mojo.

#2 Boston Bruins vs #7 New York Rangers

At 22-8-4 away from the TD Garden, Boston is the NHL’s best road team. Too bad they have to play four games at home. Even with Tuukka Rask, they still have the NHL’s best defense, too. New York is nearly as good on the road too, though, so don’t count them out. New York has a chance if they keep up the pressure, which has worked against Boston’s sometimes lax play lately.

#3 Washington Capitals vs #6 Montreal Canadiens

Carey Price has really come into his own this season, and is on pace to set Montreal‘s team record for single season goalie appearances. Both Montreal and Washington are riding five-game winning streaks. Both teams are so similar, though Washington has a slightly better road record. With 21 wins coming at the Bell Centre, Montreal will really need to ratchet up the pressure and attempt to take the all-powerful Russian spy Alexander Ovechkin out of the equation.

#4 Pittsburgh Penguins vs #5 Tampa Bay Lightning

Tampa has lost its last four now, while the Penguins are overall close to .500 lately, but have won two in a row. With their much better defense, Pittsburgh should win the series, though without Sidney Crosby, they can only go so far.

What Might Change Next Week:

  • West: #4 Dallas, #5 Chicago, #6 Nashville, #7 Phoenix, #8 Calgary

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