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If the Playoffs Started Today – NHL Week 4

Penguins vs Blackhawks: Week 4's prediction for the Stanley Cup

We’re now a month into the hockey season, and the defending champs continue to disappoint. Toronto, Ottawa, Florida and Edmonton are all just a few examples of surprising teams early on. It’s still fairly crowded as far as playoff contenders go, though a few teams seem to be fading already. There’s still plenty of time left, though, so let’s see what would happen if the playoffs started as of Thursday, November 3, before the day’s games:

West

#1 Chicago Blackhawks vs #8 Vancouver Canucks

It’s always interesting when you have a rematch from the previous year with the seeds reversed. The Canucks have had some early season troubles, while the Blackhawks are doing well for themselves. This series should once again depend on how Roberto Luongo can hold off the opposition until the Sedins and co. can counter. With Chicago’s home record, they could definitely win this time.

#2 Edmonton Oilers vs #7 Minnesota Wild

Edmonton has emerged as a dangerous team behind the strength of back-to-back #1 picks. Minnesota has done well themselves, but don’t have the best offense to back up their decent defense. Edmonton is already 6-1-1 at home, so they have the edge here.

#3 Dallas Stars vs #6 Colorado Avalanche

Dallas is great at home, but Colorado is great on the road. But Colorado is also terrible at home. The sketchy defense of Colorado make Dallas the favorite as well.

#4 Los Angeles Kings vs #5 Phoenix Coyotes

Phoenix has put together a pretty good offense, but Jonathan Quick has been outstanding for the Kings. Both teams are 6-3-2 and so similar, one good save could mean the difference, and a pumped up home crowd makes things easier.

East

#1 Pittsburgh Penguins vs #8 Buffalo Sabres

Pittsburgh has had a very good offense, scoring at least three goals in each of its last six games. Buffalo has had a more difficult time lately, though when Ryan Miller is on, they’re extremely difficult to beat. Given recent history, Pittsburgh’s offense may be slowed, but should still have enough spice to pull through.

#2 Toronto Maple Leafs vs #7 Carolina Hurricanes

Neither teams has an especially impressive defense, though Toronto has been cooking on offense, third in the league. With how difficult they’ve been at home this season, Carolina will have a heck of a time keeping up.

#3 Washington Capitals vs #6 Florida Panthers

Washington has been very dangerous this year, and is a perfect 6-0-0 at home. Florida isn’t nearly as strong, and doesn’t have the oomph to keep up with Washington.

#4 Philadelphia Flyers vs #5 Ottawa Senators

Ottawa has no trouble scoring, but they’ve given up a league worst 50 goals so far. The Flyers haven’t had the defense they’ve hoped for, but combine that with a potent offense of their own and the Flyers mean business. Plus, three of Ottawa’s wins have had to come in shootouts. Simply put, Ottawa doesn’t have the stability to last long in the playoffs.

What Might Change Next Week:

  • Pittsburgh’s lack of games opens the door for Toronto, and if they slip up once, Washington.
  • Florida’s and Carolina’s tough schedules give the Rangers a great chance to move into the picture.

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