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If the Playoffs Started Today – NHL Week 14

Rangers vs Canucks: Week 14's prediction for the Stanley Cup

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:

West

#1 Vancouver Canucks vs #8 Los Angeles Kings

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.

#2 St. Louis Blues vs #7 Minnesota Wild

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.

#3 San Jose Sharks vs #6 Nashville Predators

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.

#4 Chicago Blackhawks vs #5 Detroit Red Wings

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.

East

#1 New York Rangers vs #8 Washington Capitals

New York has won its last five, and Henrik Lundqvist is as good as ever. Washington is but 7-12-1 on the road. After flip-flopping seeds from last season, New York is in a great position for revenge.

#2 Boston Bruins vs #7 Toronto Maple Leafs

Boston has outscored Toronto 23-6 in four wins this season. Throw in Tim Thomas and this’ll be an easy win for Boston.

#3 Florida Panthers vs #6 New Jersey Devils

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…

#4 Philadelphia Flyers vs #5 Ottawa Senators

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.

What Might Change Next Week:

  • With St. Louis hosting Vancouver, there’s a good chance the West will have a new leader next week.
  • With Minnesota’s rough schedule, Colorado has a good shot at taking over their spot.

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