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If the Playoffs Started Today – NHL Week 1

Penguins vs Red Wings: Week 1's prediction for the Stanley Cup

The NHL season is underway. Boston has begun their title defense, and Winnipeg has ushered in their new team. And Philly and Pittsburgh have picked up where they left off last season, accumulating large amounts of points and leaving the rest of the Atlantic Division in their wake. Vancouver has been active, but doesn’t quite have the points to overtake the Red Wings. Eight teams remain perfect, while two are pointless. While everyone tries to sort out their spots in the standings, let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Thursday, October 13, before the day’s games:

West

#1 Detroit Red Wings vs #8 Edmonton Oilers

This is about the only time of year you can see Edmonton even remotely close to the playoff picture. They did beat Pittsburgh in a shootout impressively, but the Red Wings are up to their old tricks, having already won at home and away. With a solid defense and an offense already producing extremely well, Detroit should do fine. Maybe the Lions will even distract some attention from them.

#2 Dallas Stars vs #7 San Jose Sharks

Don’t be fooled by the Sharks‘ low standing; they’ve only played one game so far. It was already a division win over Phoenix in a big six-goal effort. Dallas has gotten off to a good start, but doesn’t have any recent postseason experience, and has already had to win a shootout for two points. San Jose has the more solid core in this one.

#3 Colorado Avalanche vs #6 Vancouver Canucks

Vancouver has already scored 10 goals, the most in the West, but their 11 goals surrendered leaves something to be desired. Though Colorado‘s recent history says they’ll move down the standings soon enough. When you have the Sedins and Roberto Luongo, among others, it’s hard to beat you.

#4 Nashville Predators vs #5 Minnesota Wild

Nashville is already making a move up the standings by building up their goal differential. Minnesota has the offense to keep up, but their defense is a little worse early on. Nashville has the endurance to keep their current game going; Minnesota, without the late spring experience, has some questions in that regard.

East

#1 Pittsburgh Penguins vs #8 Florida Panthers

Florida is in the last spot after a four-team tiebreaker due to a win over the Islanders. After that, they lost in Pittsburgh. With seven points in four games, Pittsburgh is clearly the better team right now, despite giving up 10 goals (and scoring 14). And did I mention Sidney Crosby has been cleared for contact?

#2 Buffalo Sabres vs #7 Carolina Hurricanes

With 15 goals surrendered, Carolina leads the league in the wrong direction. Buffalo‘s offense is heating up, and they have Ryan Miller. That’s a good recipe for success if there ever was one.

#3 Washington Capitals vs #6 Tampa Bay Lightning

This is looking to be a great match-up between two high-octane teams. Tampa has given up 11 goals in three games, starting last year’s trend again, while Washington has given up eight goals in two games. Washington’s early home success has to encourage them, while Tampa is still waiting for a home game. If Tampa can’t excel on the road, Washington will take advantage.

#4 Philadelphia Flyers vs #5 Toronto Maple Leafs

Neither team has lost even a point yet. But Philadelphia is still a very good team with a new goalie upgrade, to go with their powerful offense. Toronto is good sometimes, but they still haven’t been relevant for quite a while. And they still have the least intimidating team name of all time.

What Might Change Next Week:

  • This early on, just about anyone can break into the standings, let’s say Montreal and Chicago.

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