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We’re in the All Star break, and it’s still a tough time for many teams. There are close races abound, at both ends of the seeding. Just about the only thing well-entrenched is Columbus at the bottom of the NHL by a whopping nine points. There’s a lot a time off for everyone to re-energize before trying another round of one-upsmanship in the seeding, so let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Thursday, January 26:
The Kings have a good hold on a playoff spot. However, they’re also locked into the bottom of the seeding too. It’s tough for them to put a prolonged push together, which won’t be good against a highly skilled team like Vancouver.
This has all the makings of a great series. Chicago has the best offense in the West, while San Jose sports the West’s second-best defense. Both are good at home and have similar goal differentials. San Jose has four less points, but three games in hand. The games should be close, and while San Jose has two more shootout wins and home-rink advantage, that’ll work in their favor.
St. Louis might not have the best offense, but their stellar defense more than makes up for it. Nashville is good themselves, having won four in a row and nine of ten (the one loss being at the Rangers). And they have three wins over St. Louis already this season. However, the most recent wins were in shootouts, and St. Louis has gotten much better since October. Nashville needs to put everything into winning a road game in order to have any chance, and that’s not a gimme.
It’s hard to believe that at #3, Washington is only a point away from being out of the seeding. They have an abysmal road record to thank for that, but Ottawa has lost three in a row, and isn’t too good on the road themselves. The added pressure from Washington’s point total should provide some added incentive to do better, which will help against teams like Ottawa.
Pittsburgh has won seven straight, which follows their six-game losing streak. Philadelphia has taken advantage of that inconsistency, winning both games in the season series so far. Each team is capable of winning in either city, but Pittsburgh needs to keep games close to have a good chance; Philadelphia has eight more non-shootout wins in one less game. Any lack of consistency and Pittsburgh will be eaten up.
Tags: NHL Playoffs