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It’s a week before Thanksgiving, and things are getting close. Four divisions are led by at most two points, while another is led by three. Pretty much everyone except the Islanders and Blue Jackets is still well in the hunt. Virtually no seed has any amount of safety at the moment, so let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Thursday, November 17, before the day’s games:
The Blackhawks have won four in a row, helping get them a league high 67 goals. The problem is that they’ve given up 53, the most of any Western playoff team. San Jose has a better defense, but they don’t score as much to back it up. However, they’ve also played a league low 15 games, so there’s a lot of room to catch up. Still, Chicago is very explosive and very good at home.
Both teams have been a surprise this year. Both have a stingy defense while doing enough on offense to get by. Both are good at home. But Edmonton hasn’t gotten any points in their last three games, while Minnesota is on an upswing. Edmonton is only 3-5-1 on the road, so Minnesota is in the better position.
This match-up is similar to Minnesota/Edmonton, only the road team is the one on the winning streak. Both teams are similar in goal differential, but that’s after Dallas has lost three in a row. And Jonathan Quick has done a great job for the Kings this year.
Both teams are so close to each other. Nashville is one up in the Regulation+OT wins column, though Phoenix has played one less game. Both sides are actually better on the road, which ought to spice things up. With both teams so closely matched, one good stop could mean the difference in the series.
New Jersey has been quite resilient as of late, though they’ve given up some tough goals. Pittsburgh has shown themselves to be capable of holding such a team at bay while pressuring the opposing net themselves. While New Jersey won’t make it easy, Pittsburgh should pull though.
Florida has been another big surprise, though they still have to contend with Washington and fend off teams behind them. Buffalo has some good power, not to mention Ryan Miller, and have shown enough road moxie to make Florida nervous.
Toronto has had good offense from Phil Kessel, but they’ve given up a massive 61 goals already. You have to believe the Capitals, struggling as they are, will be able to use Ovechkin and co. to take advantage.
Philadelphia has the league’s second best offense, but New York has the top defense. The teams are similar in goal differentials, though New York has won seven in a row, the NHL’s longest active streak. With those mindsets, Henrik Lundqvist will be the key to the series, and the New York crowd won’t hurt. If New York can concentrate on picking off a road game, they should do well enough.
Tags: Buffalo Sabres, Chicago Blackhawks, Dallas Stars, Edmonton Oilers, Florida Panthers, Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota Wild, Nashville Predators, New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers, NHL Playoffs, Philadelphia Flyers, Phoenix Coyotes, Pittsburgh Penguins, San Jose Sharks, Toronto Maple Leafs, Washington Capitals