Saturday, April 6, 2013

Maple Leafs and Ducks to meet in the Stanley Cup

Every team in the NHL has now played 36 games so it's time for another of my mid-season playoff previews. That's where I take the standings with every team having the same number of games played and simulate the playoffs based on the season series to this point, which occasionally results in some surprising upsets. I initially did this at 32 games but it was boring as Pittsburgh was so dominant in the East. Now, however, New Jersey has slipped into the 8th spot and they actually lead the season series against the Penguins. That changes everything, as you can see below. ROW is Regulation/Overtime wins, the first tiebreaker when teams are tied in points.

East            Pts     ROW
Pittsburgh      56      26
Boston          52      19
Winnipeg        38      17
Montreal        51      20
Toronto         44      20
Ottawa          44      15
NY Rangers      39      15
New Jersey      39      13

West            Pts     ROW
Chicago         58      22
Anaheim         53      19
Minnesota       44      17
Vancouver       44      15
San Jose        44      13
Los Angeles     43      19
St. Louis       42      17
Detroit         41      16

The playoffs would work like this, with season series records in brackets:

NJ over Pittsburgh (2-1)
NYR over Boston (2-1)
Ottawa over Winnipeg (2-1)
Toronto over Montreal (2-1)

Yes, all four matchups in the East would be won by the lower seed.

Toronto over NJ (1-0)
Ottawa over NYR (3-0)

Toronto over Ottawa (3-1)

The Leafs win the East!

Much less intriguing in the West:
Chicago over Detroit (3-0)
Anaheim over St. Louis (2-0-1)
Minnesota over LA (1-0)
San Jose over Vancouver (3-0)

Chicago over San Jose (3-0)
Anaheim over Minnesota (3-0)

Anaheim over Chicago (3-0)

So Anaheim will take on the Leafs, who fired Brian Burke unceremoniously just before the season started. Burke is now a part-time scout for Anaheim, so if karma plays a part, look for the Ducks to win the Stanley Cup, again beating a team from Ontario.

And if you think this is all bunk, remember that back in 2011, I predicted a Boston-LA final, and those were the teams that won the next two Stanley Cups.

Update: Well, New Jersey has been eliminated, so Pittsburgh takes the East at the 45-game mark, while Chicago takes the West as Anaheim is losing the season series to San Jose at the moment.



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