(AP Photo/Gail Burton) Will The Sox Win The AL East? Connelly’s Top Ten: Brady Being Poked, Pink Hats Strike Again, Stand Up! UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 29:  From the book New York Exposed. Willie Mays' famous eighth inning catch going away from home plate in the first game of the 1954 World SEries between the New York Giants and the Cleveland Indians.  (Photo by Frank Hurley/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images) Connelly’s Top Ten: Sox Managers Worse Than Farrell, Loaded 1966 All-Star Team, Brady-Belichick’s ‘Feud’ 2564856329_a79fdbbc29_z NBA Preview: 2016-2017 Boston Celtics

If the Playoffs Started Today – NHL Week 15

Ducks vs Penguins: Week 15's prediction for the Stanley Cup

Now into the second half of the season, teams are officially starting to run out of time to make moves. Still, many teams are still alive, especially in the jam-packed Wildcard race in the East. Last season’s Stanley Cup Finalists are barely holding onto leads in their divisions, while Pittsburgh and Anaheim are still going strong. It’s an exciting time with teams trying to make their last runs before Sochi, so let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Wednesday, January 15, before the day’s games:

West

Pacific Division

#1 Anaheim Ducks vs #W2 Minnesota Wild

Minnesota is doing okay, but it’s Phoenix’s tailspin that’s putting Minnesota in this spot for the moment. The Wild still have a tough time on the road, and Anaheim still has points in every home game so far. Anaheim shouldn’t have too much trouble here.

#2 San Jose Sharks vs #3 Los Angeles Kings

Los Angeles is only 3-6-1 in their last ten games, but remains the only NHL team yet to give up 100 goals. Having scored 150 goals so far and with a good defense of their own, the Sharks could definitely take advantage if LA can’t seem to support Jonathan Quick with enough offense. With only 120 goals scored themselves, that has the potential to be a problem for the Kings.

Central Division

#1 Chicago Blackhawks vs #W1 Vancouver Canucks

The Canucks have been hit-or-miss lately without Roberto Luongo healthy, and he’ll be needed at an elite level to stop Chicago‘s 177-goal offense, easily the NHL’s best. If not, a high-scoring slugfest to take advantage of Chicago’s porous defense, worst among West playoff teams, would be their best bet. But that hasn’t always come easy to Vancouver this season.

#2 St Louis Blues vs #3 Colorado Avalanche

St Louis has a goal differential of 63, 21 more than second-place Chicago and Anaheim. Being able to beat you in virtually any fashion makes the Blues perhaps the most dangerous team in the field. Colorado has some offense themselves, but nowhere near the Blues’ level. Without great care, Colorado could quickly find themselves overwhelmed.

East

Metropolitan Division

#1 Pittsburgh Penguins vs #W2 Toronto Maple Leafs

Toronto is looking to keep pace in the now highly-competitive Wildcard race in the East, but is still tied for fourth-worst goals surrendered total in the league. Pittsburgh is in a very good position to make the Stanley Cup Finals, and has enough balance between offense and defense to do so.

#2 Washington Capitals vs #3 Philadelphia Flyers

Washington is back at #2, but is still having trouble getting two points at a time. Philadelphia has had a better time lately getting those wins than Washington, and has won 21 times without having to go to a shootout, compared to just 14 times for Washington. At the moment, this looks like a good series for the road team to move ahead.

Atlantic Division

#1 Boston Bruins vs #W1 New York Rangers

The Bruins have been slumping lately, at least by Bruins standards; a lot of that can be traced to their California road trip tiring everyone out, but Tuukka Rask has laid too many eggs lately. New York still has a ways to go, especially at home, but for a Metropolitan team to get into the playoffs as a Wildcard team has been harder than making it via the Division itself. Boston is still favored, but this has the makings of a classic trap series.

#2 Tampa Bay Lightning vs #3 Montreal Canadiens

This should be an interesting series, with both sides close enough in record and stats, but Tampa Bay is a noticeably higher scoring team, which is what makes them #2 right now. Assuming everyone is healthy, Tampa at least has home-rink advantage, but Montreal could just as easily move on themselves.

What Might Change Next Week:

  • Especially if they can get points in Washington, look for Ottawa to make a move, most likely at the Rangers’ expense.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Discussion

No comments for “If the Playoffs Started Today – NHL Week 15”

Post a comment