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If the Playoffs Started Today – NHL Week 24

Blues vs Rangers: Week 24's prediction for the Stanley Cup

It’s almost time for the playoffs to begin. There’s certainly no shortage of close contests, and nobody’s giving way easily at all. And this far along, only the top team in each conference has so much as clinched a playoff spot. The action the rest of the way is sure to be cutthroat, so let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Thursday, March 22, before the day’s games:

West

#1 St. Louis Blues vs #8 Los Angeles Kings

Just like that, the Kings have won five in a row. St. Louis may not have a recent winning streak like that, but they’re no slouches either. The Blues are still a great defensive team, and that’s translated to excellent home performances.

#2 Vancouver Canucks vs #7 Colorado Avalanche

Colorado has been winning lately, while Vancouver hasn’t been as fortunate. However, the Canucks have the luxury of being essentially locked into a seed to work things out before the playoffs begin. Vancouver could pick up the defense at any moment, and their offense is more than good enough to overwhelm Colorado’s lackluster defense.

#3 Dallas Stars vs #6 Chicago Blackhawks

Both teams are doing very well, but Chicago has a five-game winning streak, not to mention seven points over Dallas. Chicago may give up plenty of goals, but their raw offensive power makes up for it. Even though Chicago isn’t the best on the road, Dallas will still have a very tough time surviving the ‘Hawks’ test.

#4 Detroit Red Wings vs #5 Nashville Predators

Detroit has had a horrendous time lately, but there was a four-game road trip in their 2-6-2 March. They’re still a very dangerous team even on the road, and incredibly difficult at home. Nashville has been hit or miss lately, and haven’t been able to get a good hold on the #4 spot, which makes it that much more difficult for them to defeat Detroit without home-rink advantage.

East

#1 New York Rangers vs #8 Washington Capitals

The Capitals are having a tough time hanging onto their spot. The Rangers aren’t as much of a lock as they once were, but they definitely still have the defense to make a deep run, with a good offense to boot.

#2 Boston Bruins vs #7 Ottawa Senators

Ottawa has hit a mini wall, with two straight home losses. Boston is trying to get rolling again, winning two straight, including an 8-0 destruction of Toronto. That’s just the sort of momentum Boston needs to get past another division rival.

#3 Florida Panthers vs #6 New Jersey Devils

Florida has been getting better, even getting a good hold on the division lead. But New Jersey is still a deadly threat out of the toughest division in hockey by far. A powerful road record will also do wonders for the Devils.

#4 Pittsburgh Penguins vs #5 Philadelphia Flyers

Philadelphia‘s been good, but Pittsburgh has been phenomenal, even coming within legitimate striking distance of the Rangers. With Pittsburgh’s momentum and Sidney Crosby back in the mix, they have to be considered a favorite in the tournament.

What Might Change Next Week:

  • With a nice bunch of home games, and a visit to Anaheim, San Jose is in a good position to take over Colorado’s spot.

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