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The season is half over for many teams, and almost everyone is still as close as ever. Boston and Montreal are fighting over the East, while the Rangers and Devils are still trying to hold off the Jets and Islanders. Out West, #3 and #11 are separated by just four points, so just about everyone still has a decent chance of doing something good. With the entire brackets set to shake up completely at a moment’s notice, let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Saturday, March 9 at 8:00pm:
The Blackhawks finally lost one in regulation in their 25th game, against Colorado of all teams. Still, after just one game, they haven’t shown enough to make everyone jump off the bandwagon. Dallas is okay, but they’re only barely in the #8 spot, and haven’t shown nearly the same level of talent Chicago has.
Both teams are doing well, but Los Angeles is still struggling to get some breathing room. Anaheim, meanwhile, has used their powerful offense to be a consistent #2 seed for most of the season. Plus, they’ve only lost once all year long at home.
After Chicago and Ahaheim, things get much more interesting. Vancouver and San Jose have both been having their struggles as of late, and are only separated by one point. At least Vancouver can use the bit of room they have in their division (and thus room for the #3 seed) to get some rest, align their players or do whatever they have to to prepare for the postseason. San Jose’s struggles have been more extensive and they have to use up much more of their energy just holding onto a spot.
Again, both teams here are very similar, separated by almost nothing. Not that St Louis has been stellar at home, but Detroit is still having some issues on the road, most recently getting blanked in Columbus. St Louis can certainly pick off a game in Detroit as well, and if they do, Detroit will have a very difficult time from then on.
New York is having a disappointing year; they just don’t have the defense and goaltending they had last season. Meanwhile, Boston is doing exceedingly well and still has plenty of games in hand on the rest of the East. Their rough style of play should give the rest of the East a lot to think about all playoffs long.
The Devils continue to have difficult putting up points, while Pittsburgh boasts the league’s most potent offense. The Devils made a run to the finals last season at #6, but don’t expect the same magic to show up this time around.
Carolina is still a recent .500 team, but close divisional competition has kept them from getting too lax. The Senators have been doing well to stay in the thick of things with so many injuries, but you have to wonder how long they can keep it up.
Aside from Pittsburgh, Toronto is the only other team not to lose a game in extra time. The fact that Montreal has four such games has them four points ahead of Toronto at the moment. Other than that, there’s not much separating the teams. In the end, that ability to stay in close games could tip the balance in Montreal’s favor.
Tags: Anaheim Ducks, Boston Bruins, Carolina Hurricanes, Chicago Blackhawks, Dallas Stars, Detroit Red Wings, Los Angeles Kings, Montreal Canadiens, New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers, NHL Playoffs, Ottawa Senators, Pittsburgh Penguins, San Jose Sharks, St. Louis Blues, Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks