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Coming up on Christmas, many of the divisions are opening up a little more. However, the Pacific is in a three-way tie for the lead, so that looks like the race to watch for the moment. Boston is building up another winning streak, while Minnesota is on its way down. Chicago has taken advantage of that, and is already building up a decent lead. With multiple teams trying to make their moves, let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Thursday, December 22, before the day’s games:
Minnesota has lost five in a row, scoring zero or one goals in four of those losses. Dallas‘ recent struggles have been against playoff teams, and Minnesota still has a much better defense. Dallas doesn’t have the best offense, either, so as long as Minnesota fixes its offense, the Wild still have a fairly decent chance to pull out a close win.
St. Louis is doing well enough lately, but San Jose has won three straight to take control of their division. Despite the Blues’ improvement from last season, they’re still very lackluster on the road, at 6-7-3. That won’t be an asset for them against a team that’s 11-6-1 at home.
Both teams are known for being explosive with the puck and stingy in the net. This series could very well come down to which goalie can stop one extra shot in a high-scoring affair. Vancouver has two proven options with which to do that, and Detroit is 8-9-0 on the road, while we’re keeping track. Though it should still be a close, hotly contested series.
New Jersey has done well to have a playoff spot in their possession, as have the Panthers. The difference has been that New Jersey has given up 10 extra goals, and that’s in one less game than Florida. However, New Jersey has been good on the road while Florida hasn’t done too well at home, though most of their home losses have come in extra time. That means that for New Jersey to win, they’ll need to get and hold an insurance goal for lengthy amounts of time. But with equal offenses, that could be difficult.
Pittsburgh has recovered a bit from losing Crosby again, but they’re still tied with New York with three games out of hand. New York doesn’t score as much, but their defense is second only to Boston. Pittsburgh will need to put Crosby out of their minds completely and continue to mow down opponents if they want to have a chance of beating New York.
Tags: Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, Dallas Stars, Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers, Minnesota Wild, New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers, NHL Playoffs, Ottawa Senators, Philadelphia Flyers, Phoenix Coyotes, Pittsburgh Penguins, San Jose Sharks, St. Louis Blues, Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks