The playoffs are set and we are ready to roll. We have some pretty good matchups that could either way out in the West, meanwhile the East might as well skip the first round because we all know what the 2nd round matchups are looking like. Either way, I’m gonna give you guys my opinion on each matchup even though no one’s asking. Will the Caps go back to back?! They’ve been rolling since the trade deadline with some great acquisitions (that I bagged on when I first saw the trades). We’ll see what Todd has in store for these gentlemen this spring. But let’s not look by the Hurricanes right now. Let’s show these young boys what playoff hockey is really like and finish them off quickly. But I’m not here just to talk about the caps. Here are my first round predictions:
Tampa Bay Lightning vs Columbus Blue Jackets
I see this series going 2 ways. Tampa Bay either outscores them 54-3 and they cut the series short after game 3. Or Sergei Bobrovsky literally stands on his head and fucks the Bolts right out of the playoffs after a record breaking season. But I highly doubt that. Tampa is too good to allow this struggling Blue Jackets team to even allow them 2 wins in this series let alone 4. CBJ definitely have some fire power with some of the big names on their roster. But this Tampa Bay team might be one of the most complete teams the NHL has ever seen in its history. I really can’t see CBJ winning a game unless Bob becomes a brick wall.
Bolts in 4
Boston Bruins vs Toronto Maple Leafs
This rivalry is gonna be around for quite some now and I can’t get enough of it. However, if I’m a Leafs fan, there’s no way I have confidence going into this series even with all the superstars they have on this team. This Bruins team has had their number in the recent past and I would consider them the 2nd best team in the NHL. On top of that, with the type of leadership the Bruins have, I can even see them upsetting Tampa Bay in the 2nd round. The Leafs will definitely give them some fight, but they don’t have the type of grit that the Boston Bruins pride themselves on. We’ll see which Tuukka Rask shows up for these playoffs, but if it’s the one we saw in 2013, Toronto is gonna be in trouble, along with the rest of the NHL.
Bruins in 6
New York Islanders vs Pittsburgh Penguins
The New York Islanders were the surprise team of the NHL this season. No one gave this team a shot at the beginning of the year including myself. In fact, I thought they had a good chance at Jack Hughes with the 1st overall pick. But Barry Trotz proved to the world what his worth is and brought this team of 3rd liners + Matt Barzal to a playoff spot with home-ice advantage. The Coli will be rocking for sure in this series, but if there is anybody that can handle an insane atmosphere, it’s Sydney Crosby. Now, I can’t speak for Evgeni Malkin or Kris Letang for that matter. For how long those two guys have been in the NHL, they get more rattled than the 45 year old men playing in a Silver Adult Beer League. Mitch Korn also showed that he can turn any goaltender in the league into a Vezina nominee. But I don’t think the Islanders can score enough to beat the pens and won’t be able to contain Pittsburgh’s top 6.
Pens in 6
Washington Capitals vs Carolina Hurricanes
The current Stanley Cup Champs will start their back to back quest with the Carolina Hurricanes and I couldn’t be happier about that. I did enjoy the Hurricanes doing their over the top celly’s all season long. But it’s time for the Capitals to end that. There’s no one on the Hurricanes that scare me to the point that they can take over a series nor do I trust their goalie to be able to steal a series. I think the Caps will take care of business fairly quickly in this one, although I do think the games will all be relatively close games. The Canes have youth and speed, but they’ve dealt with that before a couple years back against the up and coming Toronto Maple Leafs. Holtby will shut the door on these guys.
Caps in 5 (we’ve heard that before)
Winnipeg Jets vs St. Louis Blues
The St. Louis Blues have made one of the most miraculous mid-season comebacks I’ve seen in a long time. This young stud Jordan Binnington has been their savior this season as he has come into the NHL and shown that he is a stone-cold killer. Did you see his interview when someone asked if he ever gets nervous? “Do I look nervous?” When I first saw them move their way up the ladder and into a wild card spot, I immediately jumped on a future bet at +3000 to win the cup. They made some great additions last summer down the middle and their defense has always been a solid group. As they’ve been climbing up the ladder, the Jets have struggled a bit coming down the stretch. I liked the addition of Kevin Hayes for them mid-season, but it hasn’t helped them to win games (not because of Kevin Hayes, he’s played well for them). However, I do think this will be a great matchup with the way these teams play. I’m rolling with my futures pick in this series.
Blues in 7
Nashville Predators vs Dallas Stars
The Preds also made some great additions this season with Brian Boyle and Wayne Simmonds. Are you fucking kidding me? Those two players are fucking massive and just doubled the Predators grit level (and that grit level was already pretty high). For the Predators, their entire cup run will lie in the hands of Pekka Rinne. If this guy can perform in the playoffs, the Predators have a great chance at getting back to the finals. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn magic, I mean those two man missiles can be so fun to watch. But I don’t see them being able to handle the Predators grit in this series.
Preds in 6
San Jose Sharks vs Vegas Golden Knights
The Sharks have had some major struggles coming down the stretch. And if Erik Karlsson is playing injured, that will come back to bite them. Although, the Sharks do have enough star power outside of Karlsson to overcome his injury. But it all depends on which Sharks team will show up for these playoffs. The Golden Misfits are no longer the Golden Misfits this year, people know who they are and they can come at you in waves, especially with great off-season additions and the mid-season pick up of Mark Stone. This series may come down to a goaltending matchup. Either way, I think the Sharks will flip a switch to tighten this series up. But will it be enough? Not in my eyes.
Vegas in 7
Calgary Flames vs Colorado Avalanche
Last but certainly not least, we’ve got the Flames vs the Avs. The Avalanche had a pretty good start to the season with Rantanen and MacKinnon coming hot out of the gate. But they simply just didn’t have enough depth to grind out an 82 game season to keep that momentum all year long. They still managed a Wild Card spot, but with the way the Flames have been playing all year long, it looks like their season will come to an end here against a high-powered team who seems to score at will at times. Johnny “Ham n’ Cheese” and the boys roll with this one with their gorgeous playoff sweaters.
Flames in 5
Stanley Cup Predictions
Washington Capitals over the St. Louis Blues
Conn Smythe: Braden Holtby
Tampa Bay Lightning over the Nashville Predators
Conn Smythe: Nikita Kucherov