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If the Playoffs Started Today – NHL Week 3

Penguins vs Stars: Week 3's prediction for the Stanley Cup

Another week into the season and we’re getting an early sense of who might pull ahead later, though it is still close. Every team now has at least one win, and Washington is the only perfect team left (the only one without any sort of loss, even). There continue to be several surprising teams, both good and bad. With lots of potent stars vying for power in the NHL, let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Thursday, October 27 at 7:30pm:

West

#1 Dallas Stars vs #8 Anaheim Ducks

The Stars are off to a tremendous start, with seven wins to their credit already. The Ducks are decent, but they haven’t put up much of an offense so far. That’ll kill them when they try to win in Dallas.

#2 Chicago Blackhawks vs #7 St. Louis Blues

The Blues have won three in a row, but Chicago is starting to return to the form that won them a title. The ‘Hawks have yet to drop a home game in regulation, and their goal differential of +7 leads the West. St. Louis may be good, but they don’t quite pack the oomph Chicago does.

#3 Colorado Avalanche vs #6 Edmonton Oilers

Not too many people saw Edmonton coming, but here they are with 10 points and the league’s second-best defense, behind L.A. However, they’re also tied for the league’s second-worst offense. Colorado prefers to score and give up more, and it’s led them to six road wins already. They may not have won in their two games at home so far, but Edmonton hasn’t won on the road, which means Colorado’s offensive assault could be the key here.

#4 Los Angeles Kings vs #5 Detroit Red Wings

How good have the Kings and Jonathan Quick been? Too bad for them they don’t have much goal scoring to back him up, though it hasn’t been very necessary so far. Meanwhile, the Red Wings are the second Detroit team of the year to go 5-0-0 then 5-2-0. That includes an embarrassing loss to Columbus. Both teams have the skills to make this a defensive showdown, which spells well for L.A.

East

#1 Pittsburgh Penguins vs #8 New Jersey Devils

New Jersey has gotten to #8 based on tough goaltending, but with 33 goals through 11 games, Pittsburgh is one of the most lethal teams in the NHL. With that kind of offensive power, New Jersey won’t be able to do much with them.

#2 Washington Capitals vs #7 Tampa Bay Lightning

Tampa Bay has been giving up a ton of goals but using their offense to keep themselves in the game. However, they’ll be facing a Washington team that’s averaging north of four goals per game. With Tampa’s rough time in goal, that could be a death sentence.

#3 Toronto Maple Leafs vs #6 Florida Panthers

Florida has come creeping up the standings, but Toronto has been tough this season, with Phil Kessel already putting up huge numbers. Toronto’s situation is rather similar to Tampa, but Florida doesn’t quite have the power to take advantage. Add to that Toronto’s 4-0-1 record, and Phil Kessel and co. shouldn’t have many problems.

#4 Philadelphia Flyers vs #5 Buffalo Sabres

It’ll be a tough battle for all involved, with both teams better on the road early on. The biggest difference between the two is Buffalo’s stingy defense. Philadelphia has the slightly better offense, but with both teams so close, it’ll be tough for them to keep pace with Ryan Miller.

What Might Change Next Week:

  • With Dallas’ lack of games, the door is open for Chicago and L.A. to move ahead.
  • Toronto has plenty of games, but a tough first half gives Buffalo an opening.
  • With one more game than Pittsburgh, Washington could easily take over the East.

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