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The season is about half over now, and while the probable division winners have made themselves known, the rest of the seeding is easily up for grabs. Below Pittsburgh, the Metropolitan Division is wide open. Similarly, the Pacific Division is available from #2-#4, and Montreal and Tampa are fighting for home rink advantage in the first round. Much is still going on, so let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Wednesday, January 1 at 10:00pm:
Phoenix is the only team in the Western bracket fighting for their playoff spot. It’s not that they’ve been playing poorly; they’ve been pretty good. But Anaheim is just too good to lose anytime soon.
Thanks to four straight losses, the Kings have fallen to #3 and are in serious danger of dropping down to the first Wildcard spot. A combined 12-6 deficit is tough to swallow, but they still have a very good defense. The Sharks are tough to knock off at home, though, and the home team has held serve every time so far in the season series.
Vancouver has done well for themselves and has a pretty good hold on a playoff spot, but Chicago has the power to crush anyone in their way. They’re also tied for the most home wins in the West with 15. Both sides are 7-1-2 in their last 10, but Chicago’s pure offense leaves them as an early round favorite.
St Louis has won three in a row and five of six during their six-game point streak. In their last four games, Colorado has given up 17 goals. That’s not a representation of their entire season, but the Blues are perfectly capable of taking advantage of any opportunity like this that they’re given.
These two have the worst records of any of the 16 playoff teams. But the Flyers have won four straight, including a sweep of a Western Canada road trip. The Capitals still have home-rink, but having run into a minor road block in Buffalo and Ottawa, any sort of negative momentum will cost Washington.
The Senators and Islanders weren’t kind to Tuukka Rask and the Bruins, though they still have a very talented goaltender and play rough enough to support him. The Maple Leafs gave the Bruins all they could handle last playoffs, but they’re not the best on the road.
Both teams have 50 points so far, but Tampa has two games in hand over Montreal. Each side has a 2-1 shootout road victory in the season series. It’s a very close series, which makes a home crowd quite valuable.
Tags: Anaheim Ducks, Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, Colorado Avalanche, Detroit Red Wings, Los Angeles Kings, Montreal Canadiens, NHL Playoffs, Philadelphia Flyers, Phoenix Coyotes, Pittsburgh Penguins, San Jose Sharks, St. Louis Blues, Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks, Washington Capitals