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We’re already well into the new year, and it’s about the half-way point for the NHL season, too. The Rangers are continuing to make progress. The Penguins are continuing to do the opposite. It’s still very close between #8/#9 in both conferences as well, which will make for some heated battles down the stretch. There still hasn’t been one clear-cut favorite that’s emerged as of yet, so let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Thursday, January 12 before the day’s games:
Vancouver is looking like their old selves, and even got some revenge against Boston. Los Angeles is doing well to maintain their #8 spot, but they have a few games out of hand over #9 Dallas, and they just don’t have the offense to keep up with Vancouver.
St. Louis has jumped in front of perennial division contenders Detroit and Chicago behind great goaltending. Minnesota did win their last game, but they’re still on a very poor run, which bodes well for the Blues.
San Jose may be underestimated due to the low point totals across their division, but they have a great defense and a good home record. Nashville would be very similar if it weren’t for the defense holding them back at #6. It’ll be a very close match, but the goaltending and home record make the home Sharks the favorite.
This is always a fun series. Chicago has more one-point games. Detroit has a better defense. Considering Detroit has a sub-.500 road record, Chicago certainly has a decided advantage, but Detroit also has a game in hand. What Detroit does with that game will be huge, but for now, a toss-up has to go to the home team.
Florida continues to benefit from leading a division to get a top three seed, which could cause problems for them. New Jersey has the tools to win in both arenas. Neither team has been particularly impressive this season, but Florida has been playing .500 hockey lately. New Jersey has been clawing themselves higher and higher, and does have the edge in the season series…
Ottawa may be close to Philadelphia in points, but they have three games out of hand. They also have given up more goals than any other team in the NHL except for Carolina. Philadelphia definitely has the power to take advantage of that and Ottawa’s 9-7-5 road record.
Tags: Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers, Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota Wild, Nashville Predators, New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers, NHL Playoffs, Ottawa Senators, Philadelphia Flyers, San Jose Sharks, St. Louis Blues, Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks, Washington Capitals