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The NHL season is well-underway, especially considering the greatly shortened length of the season. With that being said, the standings don’t look like they usually do, partly due to the low number of games played, but it also has a lot to do with the urgency felt by every team earlier than usual. The Maple Leafs and Islanders are doing well for them, while the Flyers, Rangers and defending champion Kings are opening their years with terrible slumps. The Flyers, in fact, are a point away from the league’s worst record. It’s looking to be a topsy-turvy season, at least at this point, so let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Saturday, February 2 at 8:00pm:
Minnesota is one of those teams nobody though would do much, but here they are. They still don’t have a road win, though. Meanwhile, the Sharks are a perfect 7-0-0. It’s certainly looking like the Wild won’t get far at this rate.
Vancouver has the third seed by virtue of leading their division, but they haven’t put any semblance of room ahead of their competition in the Northwest at all. If they can’t do that, then Detroit can take advantage of Vancouver’s lack of an early identity.
Both teams have been doing well enough early, but St Louis has the noticeably better offense. And they have two high-quality goalies. The Ducks will need to ratchet up the pressure to stop that kind of one-two punch.
Toronto may have won two straight to make it to this point, but the Lightning are too good. They have the NHL’s most productive offense so far, and have dropped just one game all year. And every win has been by multiple goals.
The Devils may have four losses already, but they’ve gotten points out of three of them. Still, the Bruins have been one of the league’s better teams so far. Even in the rough loss to Buffalo, Boston put up four goals. A rare lapse is possible for anyone now and then, and the Bruins certainly have the firepower to make sure that’s what that loss was.
Ironically, the Penguins have a losing home record, but have more than made up for it away from home. The Islanders aren’t too far behind, only a win away (their game in hand) from taking over the division. Still, when the teams are close, you have to go with the one that’s a perennial playoff team.
Both teams are eerily similar. Both are easily in the conversation for a top three seed. It’s an interesting spot after the Canadiens were the third-worst team in the league last year while the Senators nearly took down the Rangers in the opening round. When the teams are this close, the tendency is to go with the one with home-ice, and the Senators certainly aren’t a bad team.
Tags: Anaheim Ducks, Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings, Edmonton Oilers, Minnesota Wild, Montreal Canadiens, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, NHL Playoffs, Ottawa Senators, Pittsburgh Penguins, San Jose Sharks, St. Louis Blues, Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks