|The Case For Trading Clay Buchholz||Connelly’s Top Ten: 1812 Overture Rendition of the Top Ten||Management Forced Its Hand With Rick Porcello, Red Sox Nation Pays||Celtics Sign Amir Johnson to 2-Year, $24 Million Deal|
Week 5 is over, and the standings have only gotten closer. There’s a three-way tie for the Atlantic Division. The three best Pacific teams are all within a point. In fact, only the Penguins have built up a decent lead so far in their division. There’s a slight push in the Wildcard races among some teams, but not enough to make themselves comfortable by any means. It’s a wild start to November, so let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Wednesday, November 6 before the day’s games:
A few extra wins have leapfrogged the Ducks past the Sharks in the West. Being the NHL’s only perfect home team (5-0-0) helps too. The Blues have one of the better defenses in the league, and can score nicely too. That home-rink ability may have to be Anaheim’s ace in the hole, so they’d better not get complacent about the Blues at all.
Phoenix has won five straight, including a shootout win in San Jose. The Sharks have lost three games in a row in extra time, which does give them a five-game point streak, but the lack of two points at a time has them at #2. However, the Sharks do have a much better defense and haven’t lost a regulation game at home yet. The Coyotes will still have a difficult time in this one.
The Avalanche have the league’s best defense and haven’t lost on the road, going 6-0-0. They’ve also played a league-low 13 games. At this point, Vancouver just doesn’t have the defense they need to stay in there with Colorado.
Three straight wins have the Wild up to #3 in the Central. They’re sub-.500 on the road, however, though one of those road wins was in Chicago. In fact, each team’s sole regulation home loss so far has been to the other. Minnesota’s overall issues on the road still favor the defending champs, though.
The Canadiens are hanging in as the second Wildcard, but .500 play won’t cut it against a team like Pittsburgh, that’s won four straight to snap a three-game skid and get back on track. The Penguins are still comfortably in the lead of their division and have talent enough to move past the Canadiens.
The Capitals have won three straight to get a playoff spot and home-rink advantage. The Islanders actually have the third worst defense in the East and fifth worst overall. Alex Ovechkin and friends will definitely be able to take advantage of that, especially with the momentum that a winning streak can bring.
The Lightning are on top of a three-way tie for the Atlantic. They have a pretty good defense this year, which certainly complements their offensive powerhouses. The Bruins have been struggling lately, but still hold the East’s best defense, and are second in that category only to Colorado. They do have the worst offense of any playoff team, so backing up Tuukka Rask’s play will take some work if the Bruins are to make any headway.
Detroit‘s biggest problem is their goal differential (40 scored, 41 surrendered). Toronto has continued to remain up at the top of the standings, and with Detroit not doing the best at home, Toronto could definitely take advantage of them if Detroit isn’t careful.
Tags: Anaheim Ducks, Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, Colorado Avalanche, Detroit Red Wings, Minnesota Wild, Montreal Canadiens, New York Islanders, NHL Playoffs, Phoenix Coyotes, Pittsburgh Penguins, San Jose Sharks, St. Louis Blues, Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks, Washington Capitals