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If the Playoffs Started Today – NHL Week 11

Blackhawks vs Flyers: Week 11's prediction for the Stanley Cup

Coming up on Christmas, many of the divisions are opening up a little more. However, the Pacific is in a three-way tie for the lead, so that looks like the race to watch for the moment. Boston is building up another winning streak, while Minnesota is on its way down. Chicago has taken advantage of that, and is already building up a decent lead. With multiple teams trying to make their moves, let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Thursday, December 22, before the day’s games:

West

#1 Chicago Blackhawks vs #8 Phoenix Coyotes

Chicago‘s powerful offense just keeps on going. Phoenix is just managing to hold onto their spot, but Phoenix isn’t quite as dynamic, and can actually be pretty flat at home.

#2 Minnesota Wild vs #7 Dallas Stars

Minnesota has lost five in a row, scoring zero or one goals in four of those losses. Dallas‘ recent struggles have been against playoff teams, and Minnesota still has a much better defense. Dallas doesn’t have the best offense, either, so as long as Minnesota fixes its offense, the Wild still have a fairly decent chance to pull out a close win.

#3 San Jose Sharks vs #6 St. Louis Blues

St. Louis is doing well enough lately, but San Jose has won three straight to take control of their division. Despite the Blues’ improvement from last season, they’re still very lackluster on the road, at 6-7-3. That won’t be an asset for them against a team that’s 11-6-1 at home.

#4 Vancouver Canucks vs #5 Detroit Red Wings

Both teams are known for being explosive with the puck and stingy in the net. This series could very well come down to which goalie can stop one extra shot in a high-scoring affair. Vancouver has two proven options with which to do that, and Detroit is 8-9-0 on the road, while we’re keeping track. Though it should still be a close, hotly contested series.

East

#1 Philadelphia Flyers vs #8 Ottawa Senators

Ottawa may have won two in a row, but with their next-to-worst defense in the NHL, there’s no way they can stand up to a very potent Flyers team.

#2 Boston Bruins vs #7 Toronto Maple Leafs

Toronto just hasn’t had an answer for Boston this season. When you have Tim Thomas and plenty of prolific goal scorers, that’ll happen.

#3 Florida Panthers vs #6 New Jersey Devils

New Jersey has done well to have a playoff spot in their possession, as have the Panthers. The difference has been that New Jersey has given up 10 extra goals, and that’s in one less game than Florida. However, New Jersey has been good on the road while Florida hasn’t done too well at home, though most of their home losses have come in extra time. That means that for New Jersey to win, they’ll need to get and hold an insurance goal for lengthy amounts of time. But with equal offenses, that could be difficult.

#4 New York Rangers vs #5 Pittsburgh Penguins

Pittsburgh has recovered a bit from losing Crosby again, but they’re still tied with New York with three games out of hand. New York doesn’t score as much, but their defense is second only to Boston. Pittsburgh will need to put Crosby out of their minds completely and continue to mow down opponents if they want to have a chance of beating New York.

What Might Change Next Week:

  • If Philadelphia can’t get two points from the New York Rangers, Boston has an easy enough schedule to pull ahead.
  • Vancouver should be able to squeak out the division lead, with Minnesota having too many chances to stumble.
  • Phoenix needs a road win in L.A., or Nashville will likely take over their playoff spot.

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