NHL Playoff Preview
The National Hockey League playoffs began on Wednesday night and certainly did not disappoint. There really is nothing like playoff hockey; two overtime games and one game decided in the final two minutes, and that is night one!
Here are Modern Made Man’s predictions for the journey to lift Lord Stanley’s Cup:
Washington Capitals vs. Toronto Maple Leafs
The playoff underachievers take on the playoff young guns in this 1v8 matchup. Toronto is just an awesome to watch! Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, William Nylander, Zach Hyman, Nazem Kadri; the list goes on for their young, budding superstars. It is going to be awesome to watch those guys take on the giant that is Washington. The Capitals have been the best team in the league all season long and the addition of Kevin Shattenkirk at the deadline along with having Vezina winner Braden Holtby in net should be enough to neutralize all of the Leafs’ young talent.
Prediction: Capitals in 6
Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Columbus Blue Jackets
Another matchup between an experienced playoff team and a relative playoff newcomer. This series is a prime example of how flawed the new playoff system is. These teams finished 2nd and 4th respectively in the entire league this season, and have to play in the first round. Columbus faded down the stretch of the regular season, missing out on home ice in this series. Overall, the Penguins are absolutely the better team in this series, but lingering injuries could become a factor. Kris Letang has already been ruled out for the entire postseason, meaning that returning defensemen Olli Maatta and Trevor Daley will need to fill huge roles if the Penguins want to make another deep run.
Prediction: Penguins in 6
Montreal Canadiens vs. New York Rangers
Another example of a flawed playoff system. The Canadiens would have been better off finishing 2nd or 3rd in their division, rather than winning it. The difference would be playing Boston or Ottawa rather than their current matchup with the Rangers. I think the Rangers have more overall skill and depth than the Habs. Despite the tough draw, I still like Montreal for one reason; Carey Price. I don’t think, however, that will be enough to advance.
Prediction: Rangers in 7
Ottawa Senators vs.Boston Bruins
This is probably the least intriguing Eastern Conference series on the board. Boston is so unpredictable in terms of which team will show up each night. Ottawa plays an unbelievable, albeit extremely boring, that has been wildly effective this season. That being said, I actually like the winner of this series to challenge the winner of the Canadiens/Rangers series in the conference semifinals.
Prediction: Bruins in 7
Eastern Conference Semi Final Winners
New York Rangers
Eastern Conference Champion
Chicago Blackhawks vs. Nashville Predators
Chicago is locked and loaded for another deep playoff run. They are extremely dangerous up front, have a ton of depth on the back end, and have a very experienced playoff goalie. The Preds have a tough task, but P.K. Subban is ready to make his mark on the playoffs, which makes me think Nashville will push this series further than most think.
Prediction: Blackhawks in 6
Minnesota Wild vs. St. Louis Blues
This is a tale of one of the hottest teams in the second half of the season vs. one of the more disappointing teams in the second half. Much like the Blue Jackets, the Wild faded heavily down the stretch of the season. At one point, they looked the favorite to secure home ice and enter the playoffs as the favorite out of the West. They need to get their power play geared up to take on a quietly surging Blues team.
Prediction: Wild in 7
Anaheim Ducks vs. Calgary Flames
Much like the Blues, I feel like Anaheim has just quietly gone about their business, and find themselves with a decent shot at making a run. The Flames are an awesome team to watch, with a ton of youthful energy and passion to push the playoff veterans in Anaheim, but have lost 27 straight games in Anaheim! That is a crazy stat!
Prediction: Ducks in 7
Edmonton Oilers vs. San Jose Sharks
Connor McDavid makes his playoff debut against the defending conference champions. I love the energy in Edmonton, and I think that will carry them to a few wins this postseason. If the old guard in San Jose has another run in them, it needs to be now.
Prediction: Sharks in 6
Western Conference Semi Final Winners
San Jose Sharks
Western Conference Champion
Stanley Cup Final
Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Chicago Blackhawks
Two of the most dominant franchises in the league over the past 10 years will finally meet in a Stanley Cup Final. This would be an unbelievable series to watch; Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Phil Kessel vs. Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, and Duncan Keith, sign me up! Chicago is on an absolute mission this season, and simply have owned the Penguins in their meetings over the past few seasons. An entertaining Final will result in one of these two teams solidifying their dynasty.
Prediction: Blackhawks in 6
Nick’s Picks of the Week
Last Week: 1-1
April 15, 2017: Pacers +8.5
April 15, 2017: Spurs -9
April 15, 2017: Jazz +5
April 16, 2017: Warriors -14.5