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If the Playoffs Started Today – NHL Week 15

Rangers vs Blackhawks: Week 15's prediction for the Stanley Cup

January is almost over, and every team has passed the halfway point of the season. Teams are still jostling positions and just about every race is very close. New teams are making playoff waves, further adding to the excitement of the times. Anything could still happen, so let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Thursday, January 19 at 7:30pm:

West

#1 Chicago Blackhawks vs #8 Colorado Avalanche

Colorado has taken advantage of Minnesota’s sliding ways, but they still aren’t in the best position. Chicago is tied for the league lead with 156 goals, and they have enough strength at home to further hold Colorado back.

#2 Vancouver Canucks vs #7 Los Angeles Kings

Vancouver is deadly on both sides of the puck. Los Angeles statistically has the better defense, but their offense is much less productive. L.A. has also lost plenty of close games, and it’ll be tough to take a big lead over Vancouver.

#3 San Jose Sharks vs #6 Nashville Predators

Both teams are actually quite similar, except that San Jose has done more in three less games with their defense. Nashville has also done well, but while they will keep things close, it’ll be difficult to sustain momentum against such a close team.

#4 Detroit Red Wings vs #5 St. Louis Blues

Both teams are built on defense, but while St. Louis is the only western team not to allow 100 goals as of yet, Detroit has double the goal differential. And with both teams so good at home yet poor on the road, Detroit has the decided advantage.

East

#1 New York Rangers vs #8 Florida Panthers

Florida is having a tough time lately, while New York is continuing to do well behind their superb goaltending. The Rangers should definitely finish this one pretty easily.

#2 Boston Bruins vs #7 Pittsburgh Penguins

Pittsburgh has won three in a row following a very rough losing streak. Boston still has the best offense and defense in the league, but the last week has seen two losses to teams at the bottom of the East at the time. We don’t know how much of that is due to the absence of Brad Marchand and Rich Peverley, but the Bruins will need to do better than that, but with everyone back and Tim Thomas and Tuukka Rask in net, it shouldn’t be much of a problem.

#3 Washington Capitals vs #6 New Jersey Devils

Washington is back on top of the Southeast thanks to Florida’s problems, but they’d be #6 if a division leader wasn’t given a top three seed. New Jersey has won three in a row, and have a league-most eight shootout wins. New Jersey can win on the road, and with Washington’s 8-12-1 road record, New Jersey only needs one road win to make them sweat.

#4 Philadelphia Flyers vs #5 Ottawa Senators

Ottawa has been one of the best teams in the NHL lately, but defense is a key reason why they’re still only at #5. Philadelphia‘s netminders definitely have it in them to make one more stop than Ottawa’s, plus Philadelphia also has the prowess to pick off an insurance game in Ottawa.

What Might Change Next Week:

  • If Boston can’t right the ship (Philadelphia will be a key game for that), Ottawa will be ready to take over the division for the time being.
  • With Detroit using up their game in hand, they should take the West from arch rival Chicago.
  • If Colorado can’t win in Los Angeles, look for Dallas to take over their spot.

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