After what could be adequately called a “disappointing” first round of the NHL playoffs, we are now careening at top speed toward the most exciting second round in recent memory. All we can do is hope it lives up to the Hype!
Round 1 Retrospectives
Nashville Predators 4-2 Colorado Avalanche
The Colorado Avalanche made a strong case for themselves against the NHL’s number one team, but still never really looked a threat to take the series. They certainly overperformed expectations and frankly looked like they belonged in the playoffs. The team is fairly young and very talented. If the goaltending keeps up and the Avs add one more impact blue-liner, I could see them looking pretty competitive in short order. Say hi, Ryan O’Reilly!
Winnipeg Jets 4-1 Minnesota Wild
Just around as expected. Dubnyk held the Wild into a few games in which his team was getting soundly outplayed but the offensive muscles on the Jets proved too much. Once Zach Parise went down, this lopsided series was officially over. The 5-0 game 5 drubbing the Jets delivered was just about appropriate. It accurately depicted how the series had gone once the Minnesota goaltender could no longer be a superhero. Minnesota has some soul-searching to do this off-season after letting go of GM Chuck Fletcher. Winnipeg on the other hand, looks set for a while.
Vegas Golden Knights 4-0 Los Angeles Kings
Ahahaha oh man what can you even say? Jonathan Quick who allowed SEVEN goals in 4 games, will go into the offseason with 0 wins and 4 losses in this playoff year. Normally when a goalie allows 7 goals in a playoff series, his team is WINNING a sweep. Unfortunately the chaw-chewing hothead had less support than probably any goalie in Stanley Cup Playoff history. Three goals. His team scored three goals in four games. Fleury was outstanding but rarely called upon to make five-alarm saves.
Anaheim Ducks 0-4 San Jose Sharks
If I’m being perfectly honest, I didnt watch much of this series, but my understanding is that John Gibson is officially a “bad playoff performer,” while Evander Kane was impressive in his playoff debut.
Tampa Bay Lightning 4-1 New Jersey Devils
Just about what we expected. Taylor Hall scored or assisted on 70% of the Devils non-empty net goals which just about sums it up. Hall was extremely impressive as was Kyle Palmieri and Will Butcher, but behind that I just don’t know what anyone would have expected. The Lightning just have more power up top and depth down the lineup. After a couple shaky starts from Keith Kinkaid, Corey Schneider entered and was back to the form we had come to expect from him before his absolutely putrid 2018 and really made the Bolts work to close out the series.
Boston Bruins 4-3 Toronto Maple Leafs
Round one’s lone game seven did not disappoint for roughly 50 minutes. The teams were playing fast, smart hockey and trading goals until the Toronto Maple Leafs stunningly forgot how to defend and allowed the Bruins to score 4 unanswered 3rd period goals to take a series win that surely didnt reopen any old wounds for Leafs fans. The Bruins are just better at everything spot on the lineup except maybe the 1C and even that’s close because Bergeron is that dude. Shaky goaltending from Andersen was compounded by just shocking defensive zone coverage from Mike Babcock’s squad.
Washington Capitals 4-2 Columbus Blue Jackets
Oh man did this have the look of a somewhat stunning upset. After conceding third period leads and losing games one and two in overtime at home the Caps rallied back and won four straight, and only game 5 was really in doubt. I’m sure its unrelated but that big run happened right when the Caps put their Vezina trophy winning goalie back in the crease, replacing Philipp Grubauer. Artemi Panarin is the real deal and Bobrovsky was… not. That’s about what it comes down to.
Pittsburgh Penguins 4-2 Philadelphia Flyers
Of course. Sean Couturier was having a series of a lifetime before being low-bridged by Radko Gudas in practice, injuring his MCL. From there it was just about game over. Gudas is like a cartoon character who’s worst impulses are characterized by literally saying them out loud. “Must injure!” May just have escaped his lungs as he tore down his teams best performer in the playoffs effectively ending the season for his Flyers.
Round 2 Previews and Predictions
Nashville Predators vs. Winnipeg Jets
Oh baby just put it right into my veins. It’s been a long, long time since I’ve been this excited for a series where i have no stake in who wins. Two talented, exciting teams with plenty of superstars to go around. If Rinne can step up his play just a touch after an overall slightly disappointing first round, this may be some of the best hockey all season. And hardly anyone outside the die-hards know about it because of questionable TV decisions. What a league. Do a public service, let some casual hockey fans know how good this is gonna be because its really gonna be something. They say that only cowards predict 7 game series because that shows that they don’t know who to pick to win. So with that said, I’ll take the Preds in 7.
Vegas Golden Knights vs. San Jose Sharks
Vegas averaged less than 2 goals per game in the last round and are facing a goalie who was arguably just as impressive in the last round as Quick in Martin Jones. I expect Jones to get a bit more goal support from the likes of Couture, Kane, and Pavelski than Quick got against this Vegas team. They will likely need to lean on Fleury a bit more this series and that worries me. Fleury was good when called upon against LA, but as we stated before, that wasn’t often. I think that this series may hinge on how well he adapts to seeing more rubber than he did in the last round, and lets be honest, his recent track record in the playoffs is less than stellar. Give me San Jose in 6 but I’m not happy about it.
Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Boston Bruins
Two good teams, two fairly evenly matched teams, but one team that just finished a seven game series and one that’s been off for a week. I gotta take the rested Stamkos, Point, and Kucherov over the tired Pastrnak, Bergeron, and Marchand. It’ll be important for Tampa to jump out and ideally take both games at home before they get ground down and at least partially lose their fatigue advantage. Combine the rest factor with Tuukka Rask’s somewhat inconsistent play vs. Vasilevskiy’s pretty impressive round one, and ill take the Bolts in 6 but I could easily see this going in any number of directions.
Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Washington Capitals
Aaahahahahahahah Pens in 7