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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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Tags: Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, Chicago Blackhawks, Dallas Stars, Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers, Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota Wild, New York Rangers, NHL Playoffs, Ottawa Senators, Philadelphia Flyers, Phoenix Coyotes, Pittsburgh Penguins, St. Louis Blues, Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks