Finally! The best time of the sports season.. playoff hockey baby! We’ll go through each match up and highlight the biggest story line for every time.
Canadiens vs Rangers:
For New York I’m looking at their defense and cringing a little bit. They can put the puck in the net and they’ve got one of the worlds best goalies, but right now their D is extremely thin with captain Ryan McDonough having missed 5 straight games. I’m worried about this blue line going up against a high powered Montreal team. The big story line in Montreal is can they finally get over the hump. These two teams met in the conference finals back in 2014, but in Montreal the expectation is to be there every single year. If Montreal can’t escape the first round, we could be in for some more big changes in Montreal this summer. Prediction: Montreal in 6.
Senators vs Bruins:
The Sens are in the same boat as NY with a blue line that’s been ravaged by injury. No Mark Methot and Cody Ceci means the Sens are without two top 4 defensemen. Boston is also missing 2 top 4 defensmen in Torrey Krug and Brandon Carlo.. which led to the call up of their 19 year old top prospect, Charlie McAvoy. The big question in Boston is whether or not this core can get it done. Bergeron, Marchand, Krejci, Rask and Chara were all around for the cup win in 2011.. can they still do it? We’ll see. Prediction: Boston in 6.
Capitals vs Maple Leafs:
This ones easy.. can Washington finally put it all together and make that cup run that’s eluded The Great 8 for his whole career? For Toronto the big question is if Freddy Anderson is healthy. Without their goalie they’re gonna get swept, it’s that simple. If he can go, the story line will be can these young kids (Matthews/Marner: 19, Nylander/Kapanen: 20, Reilly: 23) shock the hockey world and take out the top team in the league? Prediction: Washington in 5.
Penguins vs Blue Jackets:
Can Pittsburgh overcome all their injuries to top players like Letang, Maatta and Malkin to repeat? Anyone that tells you to right off this team is a dummy, but it certainly won’t be an easy rode for Sid and his troops. The Columbus turn around was not supposed to happen this early. This team is a band of no names to the common fan, but if they’re able to take out the defending champs, who will emerge as a household name to the common fan? (my candidates are Werenski, Jones, Atkinson and Foligno). Predictions: Columbus in 7.
Blackhawks vs Predators:
The ‘hawks were my one lock before the matches were set, but this is not a team Chicago wanted to draw in the first round… Will Chicago be able to get the dynasty back on track after getting ousted in the first round last year? For Smashville, can Pekka Rinne finally figure out the playoffs? Peks (as I like to call him) is always one of the best regular season goalies, but always seems to struggle once the playoffs come around. Hot take: This is the best series of the first round… Prediction: Nashville in 6. 😉
Wild vs Blues:
Can the Blues overcome all their loses from the offseason/injuries? Doubling cause I can… Can their goalies finally figure it out in the playoffs? My question for Minnesota, will Devan Dubnyk show that he’s the best goalie in the world, or flat on his face? I think he steps up big time. Prediction: Minnesota in 5.
Ducks vs Flames:
The Ducks have won the Pacific 5 years in a row but aren’t getting any younger, will they tear it down with a disappointing run? Not a lot of people thought Calgary would be here, can they make the most of their opportunity? With Johnny Hockey as the face of the team, look for his center, Sean Monahan to join him on the national stage. (can’t wait for Matty Tkachuk to stir the pot out there). Prediction: Calgary in 7.
Sharks vs Oilers:
This is the series I’m looking forward to the most, AND IT AINT CLOSE (except for my B’s… obviously). Will San Jose get back to the Stanley Cup before it’s too late for their vets? For Edmonton, will these young yet inexperienced studs step up to the plate when the lights are shining at their brightest? This is a battle tested group of vets for the Sharks taking on the young new kids on the block. We’ll see a lot of Maroon, McDavid, Draisaitl vs Burns and Martin. And bot will it be exciting. Prediction: Oilers in 7.