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If the Playoffs Started Today – NHL Week 3

Sharks vs Penguins: Week 3's prediction for the Stanley Cup

Now three weeks into the season, there’s not much separation, though a few of the best teams are making an early mark. On average, the West has been getting more points, but the East has more games in hand. The Wildcard races in particular are quite packed, and teams like Colorado, Toronto and Carolina remain up in the standings. It’s been an intense first several games, so let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Wednesday, October 23 before the day’s games:

West

Pacific Division

#1 San Jose Sharks vs #W2 Los Angeles Kings

Los Angeles is proving to be a fairly balanced team in the early going, but San Jose is the only team left in the NHL that has earned at least a point in all of their games so far. And their 40 goals are the best mark in the NHL as well. LA will need to regain their championship form in order to have a chance at slowing the prolific Sharks.

#2 Anaheim Ducks vs #3 Phoenix Coyotes

Both teams are pretty similar so far, but not only does Anaheim have a game-in-hand, they have also won all five home games so far. With each side noticeably better at home in the early going, Phoenix should make things interesting, but should also be in for a rough fight.

Central Division

#1 Colorado Avalanche vs #W1 Vancouver Canucks

The Canucks have plenty of pop, but their defense hasn’t been what it’s been in past seasons. Meanwhile, the Avalanche have the best defense in the West, and are perfect on the road. With Colorado’s early play, Vancouver will be hard-pressed to win anywhere, especially against a hostile and hungry Colorado crowd.

#2 Chicago Blackhawks vs #3 St Louis Blues

Chicago has three points on St Louis, but the Blues have two games in hand. Other than that difference, the two sides are statistically quite similar. For the time being, the Blackhawks have home-rink advantage and the momentum that comes with being defending champions. That should be just enough to break a stalemate in a fun series.

East

Metropolitan Division

#1 Pittsburgh Penguins vs #W2 Montreal Canadiens

The stats are similar here, but Pittsburgh has translated more of their talents into victories. The big difference is at home, where the Penguins are 5-1-0, and the Canadiens are 2-3-0. If Montreal can’t tie the strings together in a more efficient fashion, Pittsburgh will give them a very tough time.

#2 Carolina Hurricanes vs #3 New York Islanders

Carolina is okay on the road, but their offense could be better. New York could be better in their own right, but they have shown more of an ability to score early on. Either side could win, but a little extra pep might just help out New York.

Atlantic Division

#1 Toronto Maple Leafs vs #W1 Tampa Bay Lightning

Toronto has shown plenty of force to stay atop the Atlantic, but they’ve had two more games than the Lightning to ply their trade. Toronto gave Boston a great fight last postseason, while Tampa has a few more superstar-level players. Either side could legitimately pull this out, which gives Toronto the slight edge with four home games.

#2 Detroit Red Wings vs #3 Boston Bruins

The teams split both games in Boston so far, but the Bruins are working on their offense, after besting old buddy Tim Thomas and blanking Tampa 5-0. They’ll need it to keep the pressure on Detroit. Detroit definitely has the power to win, but they’ll have to break a Bruins’ defense that’s allowed only 10 goals so far, and the Bruins are perfect on the road right now. This will definitely be the marquee series to watch.

What Might Change Next Week:

  • With Phoenix and Los Angeles beating each other up, Vancouver could find themselves rising up the standings, particularly if they can take care of business in St Louis.

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