NHL Western Conference Playoffs: Calculating the Run to the Stanley Cup

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NHL Western Conference Playoffs: Calculating the Run to the Stanley Cup
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Much has changed in just 10 days since writing the predictions for the NHL Western Conference playoffs.

Most notably, the Phoenix Coyotes went from 12-game point streak to just one point in four games while the Dallas Stars have not lost. Predicting the rest of the this season is much like a three-day winter weather forecast in the Midwest—fairly accurate but subject to the winds of change.

Sometimes it helps to rely on what can be quantified. Every team's finish was determined based on a formula explained and used for the final standings in the NHL Pacific Division.

Based on numbers alone, the Stars would be the new third seed and the Calgary Flames would just edge out the Coyotes for the last spot. Those teams placed there do not affect the first-round winners.

However, the Chicago Blackhawks finishing two points in front of the San Jose Sharks means they advance to the second round instead. Since San Jose would lose all tiebreaks with Chicago, they would have to play a full three points better than the formula says.

They only need to play two points better than projected to win their division. A four-time division champion getting healthy with the best talent in the division on paper that plays their rivals in over half their remaining games should be able to find a way to do that.

This leaves the first round pretty much as predicted, even if the number of games would likely change a bit. This is how I predict those winners will do in the rest of the playoffs...

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