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Just two weeks remain in the season, and teams are starting to clinch spots. Time is quickly running out for teams to make their moves or break into the top 16. The Blackhawks, Ducks and Penguins continue to sit easy of course (and are now joined by Vancouver as a solid #3), but it’s not so clear cut from there on out. The Northeast and Southeast divisions are still very much in play, and it’s getting very difficult to hold onto any other seed for any amount of time. With the field still playing itself out, let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Saturday, April 13, before the day’s games:
This is always a fun rivalry to watch. But Detroit has lost three straight, the last two by shootout. And since one of those games was to Chicago, the Blackhawks have swept the season series, though three of the four games were in extra time. While the Red Wings will undoubtedly keep things close, they just don’t have the production to keep up with Chicago this year.
Four straight wins have put Vancouver comfortably ahead in the Northwest, though none of those four opponents are currently playoff teams. Before losing in Columbus, St Louis had won five straight on the road, and six straight overall. If Vancouver develops a false sense of security, St Louis has what it takes to pull off the win.
Both teams are very good, but still have sub-.500 road records. San Jose has done an excellent job of forcing their way up to #5 after a lengthy doldrums period, but they’ll want to get a win in their game-in-hand over Los Angeles. With LA’s 17 extra goals, home-rink advantage could mean everything here.
Both teams are good on defense, but the reason Pittsburgh is #1 and New York is #8 is 138 goals for Pittsburgh against just 99 for New York. If New York’s defense gets cracked by Pittsburgh’s overwhelming offense, it’s all over.
With a 2-1 win in Boston to continue their winning streak, the Islanders kept Montreal at #2 and themselves at #7. New York only has a home record 9-11-2, despite four straight home wins (none of which are against playoff teams). With Montreal able to defend home-rink and pick off a game or two in New York, the Islanders, despite a 2-1-0 series victory, are in a tough spot.
With six straight wins and an eight-game point streak, Washington has become one of the hottest teams in the league right now. Particularly impressive was a win in Montreal. With two straight wins following five straight losses, Ottawa is still settling themselves into a routine with Craig Anderson back. With Washington playing the way they are, they’ll be a very tough out.
For Boston, 14 home runs are second in the East only to Pittsburgh. Toronto finally got a win over Boston in late March, but they still have a tough time when dealing with their divisional rivals. Boston has been having a tough time themselves, with five of six of their games in April being one-goal games either way. Still, they have positive history against the Leafs.
Tags: Anaheim Ducks, Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings, Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota Wild, Montreal Canadiens, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, NHL Playoffs, Ottawa Senators, Pittsburgh Penguins, San Jose Sharks, St. Louis Blues, Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks, Washington Capitals