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If the Playoffs Started Today – NHL Week 21

Canucks vs Rangers: Week 21's prediction for the Stanley Cup

March is here, and the season is really starting to wind down. It’s still very close in both conferences nearly all around. Only the Rangers are capable of cruising down the stretch East-wise, but even that won’t happen with the President’s Trophy being hotly contested as well. Four divisions are still tightly up for grabs as well, which means plenty of drama down the stretch, so let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Thursday, March 1, before the day’s games:

West

#1 Vancouver Canucks vs #8 Dallas Stars

The Stars are doing alright, but something like a negative goal differential will get you killed against a team like the Canucks.

#2 St. Louis Blues vs #7 San Jose Sharks

3-6-1 in their last 10 have the Sharks falling fast. St. Louis has won four straight, and almost match the Red Wings in home prowess. San Jose will need to right the ship in a hurry if they want to do much of anything against the Blues’ potent home record and defense.

#3 Phoenix Coyotes vs #6 Chicago Blackhawks

Phoenix has won six in a row, and has a 12-game point streak (11-0-1) going. The Blackhawks have been a .500 team for awhile now; they can’t keep up at this pace.

#4 Detroit Red Wings vs #5 Nashville Predators

Nashville‘s doing well, but they still have to contend with a 26-3-2 home record in Detroit. Detroit may not be the best road team (kind of pedestrian, actually), but they have the overall momentum on their side.

East

#1 New York Rangers vs #8 Washington Capitals

Washington may have won three in a row, but they’re still part of the NHL’s weakest division, while the Rangers continue to impress on defense, something that will take them far in the playoffs.

#2 Boston Bruins vs #7 New Jersey Devils

New Jersey may have lost three straight, but Boston has been shut out five times in February. Their defense hasn’t been terrible, but Boston just can’t seem to get on the right track. At this time of year, any turnaround from New Jersey will be likely to bring them an upset.

#3 Florida Panthers vs #6 Philadelphia Flyers

Florida has won three straight, but they still easily have the worst goals for and goal differential stats of any playoff team. Philly may not be doing as well as they thought they’d be, but they still have the raw power and the road record to push their way past Florida.

#4 Pittsburgh Penguins vs #5 Ottawa Senators

Pittsburgh has won four in a row, and has passed the 200-goal mark. Ottawa isn’t far behind in that respect, but has a much worse defense. It’s not that Ottawa won’t give Pittsburgh a fight, but Pittsburgh’s goaltending will be enough to get them through.

What Might Change Next Week:

  • Making up a game in hand, look for the Rangers to squeak into the lead for the President’s Trophy.
  • Still, thanks to Vancouver, look for Detroit to take the division back from the Blues.
  • Facing off against Columbus once and Minnesota twice should allow Colorado to take over for Dallas.

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