|Connelly’s Top Ten: Down Draft||Mike Napoli Should be on the Trade Block||NHL Draft Day Dust has Settled, Now the Bruins Need a Winger||Day One of Draft Shows Major Changes for Bruins|
Teams are rapidly approaching 20 games already, if they haven’t reached the mark already. The divisional races are getting closer, even Pittsburgh’s. The Wildcard races are pretty good too, especially in the East. A few teams may be thinking of ping pong balls already, but plenty still have postseason aspirations. With seedings shifting around all the time, let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Wednesday, November 13, before the day’s games:
Anaheim has continued to impress, with a muscular 68 goals so far. And they’re a perfect 8-0-0 at home. Vancouver has been good themselves, but they have Los Angeles on their tail and their even goal differential will make it highly difficult to gain any headway in Anaheim.
The Sharks looked invincible at the start of the season, and while they’re still a very good team, they just recently ended a five-game streak without a win (though with four points in that streak). Quietly, the Coyotes have moved ahead of San Jose and are 8-0-1 at home. San Jose will need to regain some early season magic in order to avoid an early exit.
Minnesota has done a good job to get into the playoff chase, though they have had some issues on the road. Colorado has been very good no matter where they play, and have given up just a scant 30 goals so far. If they can’t get themselves a decent chance to win on the road, the Wild could be in trouble.
The teams are quite similar in the standings, though St Louis does have two games in hand. On the other side of that coin, the Blackhawks have won three straight to put themselves in a tie with Colorado and three points ahead of the Blues. In a battle of offense against defense, home-rink advantage could mean a lot.
The Lightning are in first for the moment, but Steven Stamkos broke his leg against the Bruins on Veterans Day. Without such a productive presence on the ice, Tampa will have a very difficult time in the postseason, giving Montreal a great opportunity to take advantage of Stamkos’ absence.
This is the series many have been looking forward to since realignment. Boston has kick-started a winning streak to move out of the Wildcard standings. Detroit has lost four in a row, though the last three have gotten them a point each. Still, with Tuukka Rask leading a stellar defense for the Bruins, Detroit is at a disadvantage in the first phase of this new rivalry.
All of a sudden, Pittsburgh‘s division lead is down to one point, though with two games-in-hand. Toronto is similarly losing ground, down to a Wildcard spot. With both teams sitting on 11-6-0 records and having almost identical stat lines, Being relegated to a Wildcard spot will give a slight disadvantage to Toronto.
Both teams have done well in taking advantage of a relatively weak division to rise up the standings. Neither is above .500 on the road, but more telling is that New York is noticeably the worst of the 16 playoff teams offensively. Washington‘s greater power with the puck should let them carry the day in this series.
Tags: Anaheim Ducks, Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, Colorado Avalanche, Detroit Red Wings, Minnesota Wild, Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers, NHL Playoffs, Phoenix Coyotes, Pittsburgh Penguins, San Jose Sharks, St. Louis Blues, Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks, Washington Capitals