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If the Playoffs Started Today – NHL Week 8

Wild vs Penguins: Week 8's prediction for the Stanley Cup

Two months into the NHL season, several coaching changes are in order. While that’s sure to shake things up, many surprise teams are still going strong. Florida and Minnesota have healthy leads, Toronto’s still hanging in there, and the Coyotes and Stars are leading the way in the Pacific. Vancouver and Boston are both on upswings after slow starts. Even St. Louis and Ottawa are making moves. With all the big rivalries getting into full gear, let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Thursday, December 1, before the day’s games:


#1 Minnesota Wild vs #8 Los Angeles Kings

Both teams are actually quite similar, though Minnesota does have four more wins, including 4-1 in shootouts. Minnesota has the edge in home/away match-ups, and with their propensity for winning close games, that should make a noticeable difference against Los Angeles.

#2 Detroit Red Wings vs #7 Dallas Stars

Detroit is powering their way to the top of the standings with six straight victories. While Dallas is fairly decent on offense, they simply won’t be able to keep up.

#3 Phoenix Coyotes vs #6 Vancouver Canucks

Ever since Roberto Luongo got hurt, the Canucks are really on a roll. And their 14 non-shootout wins is tied for the NHL’s best. With Corey Schneider playing like he is, and with Luongo and the Sedins among others, Phoenix, despite their talent, will have a hard time keeping up.

#4 Chicago Blackhawks vs #5 St. Louis Blues

Chicago is lethal with the puck, but they give up as much too. St. Louis has the second best defense in the West, and they have a good enough offense to survive most fights right now. This series could come down to who controls home-rink advantage, and it’ll be tough for either team to win on the road in this one.


#1 Pittsburgh Penguins vs #8 Ottawa Senators

Ottawa‘s 75 goals may have them hanging around, but their 83 goals against is the second worst in the league. Pittsburgh is well-equipped for both sides of that coin.

#2 Boston Bruins vs #7 Buffalo Sabres

Boston earned at least a point in every single game in November. They are among the leaders in the NHL on both offense and defense. They lead the NHL with a +31 goal differential (#2 is Detroit’s +18). With Tim Thomas minding the net and Chara, Lucic, Seguin and the rest backing him up, Buffalo doesn’t stand much of a chance.

#3 Florida Panthers vs #6 Philadelphia Flyers

Both teams are better on the road, and Philadelphia is as good with the puck as anyone in the league. With their records nearly mirror images, experience will be a big part of this battle. With that and Florida‘s less potent offense, that could be a problem for the home team.

#4 Toronto Maple Leafs vs #5 New York Rangers

This is a match-up of the league’s best offense (Toronto) and defense (New York). Like Philadelphia, New York has had much more recent success than their opponents. And as we saw from Toronto vs Boston, the Maple Leafs have had troubles against good defenses. The Rangers don’t have nearly as good an offense as Boston, but they have the defense, experience and enough weapons to get by.

What Might Change Next Week:

  • With Boston visiting Pittsburgh, we could very well see a new #1 in the East.
  • With a new look behind the bench in Washington, and two battles with the Senators looming, look for Ottawa to fall to their opponents in games and seed.
  • With Phoenix having a tough schedule (Winnipeg aside), they should drop out of the division lead. Los Angeles will take their place if they can beat Florida, otherwise Dallas.

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