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If the Playoffs Started Today – NHL Week 8

Blackhawks vs Candiens: Week 8's prediction for the Stanley Cup

We’re two months into the season now, and plenty is still going on. Both #3 seeds are different from last week. The races for both #8 seeds are still quite crowded. Even the race for the East’s #1 has become a three-team showdown. Just about everything is in play like it was before the season began, so let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Sunday, March 17, at 1:40:

West

#1 Chicago Blackhawks vs #8 San Jose Sharks

Remember when these two were the last perfect teams? Well San Jose is only getting worse, while Chicago is still in very firm control of the President’s Trophy race. Fresh off an eight-goal outburst in Dallas, Chicago all the way.

#2 Anaheim Ducks vs #7 Vancouver Canucks

Vancouver‘s rough stretch now has them out of the division lead for not having enough non-shootout wins. Meanwhile, the Ducks have a 10-game point streak going and have a very strong grip on #2. The Ducks have a good thing going in this one.

#3 Minnesota Wild vs #6 Los Angeles Kings

Both teams are much better at home, which gives divisional leader Minnesota the edge. However, recent playoff (and championship) experience gives Los Angeles an edge. Both teams are close, but the recent postseason experience of Los Angeles coupled with a better offense should give them the overall edge, but this should still be an interesting series.

#4 St Louis Blues vs #5 Detroit Red Wings

Here’s another interesting match-up. St Louis currently has a point and game-in-hand on Deroit. Both teams are on small winning streaks, but Detroit is still sub-.500 on the road. This is shaping up to be a back-and-forth series, which could easily come down to a Game 7 at home.

West

#1 Montreal Canadiens vs #8 Carolina Hurricanes

Carolina was benefiting from leading a division, giving them a top three seed. Now, they have no such luxury. Montreal has won five straight, and looks to continue that momentum against a Carolina team from a very weak division.

#2 Pittsburgh Penguins vs #7 New Jersey Devils

The Devils have no easier a task than Carolina. Pittsburgh easily has the most productive offense in the NHL, and has won eight straight. Pittsburgh should win this one pretty handily.

#3 Winnipeg Jets vs #6 Toronto Maple Leafs

Despite now leading a division, Winnipeg has a negative goal differential. Toronto has a better offense, and like Winnipeg, is better on the road. Having remained out of the playoff race for much of the year, Winnipeg still isn’t in a good position. Toronto’s talent level has given them their advantages in this all-Canada match-up.

#4 Boston Bruins vs #5 Ottawa Senators

Injuries are finally starting to catch up with Ottawa. It certainly won’t help things that Boston is a highly talented team that plays very physically.

What Might Change Next Week: