CFN – It’s time. Eight series kick off Wednesday night which will leave eight teams for round two. Which teams make it will make for some interesting story lines.
This year 5 Canadian teams made the final 16, but sadly four of them are playing against each other. It does seem at times that the NHL isn’t a huge fan of Canuckland.
Speaking of the Canucks they lace up against the Calgary Flames. I could write fat and give you three paragraphs easy, but this should be a Calgary series win and it shouldn’t take more than 5 games to do it.
Washington vs the Islanders has the makings of a series upset for the Caps. Yes the Islanders are better and yes Jaroslav Halak is a big money goalie, but Braden Holtby isn’t chopped liver and Alex Ovechkin has something to prove after having an incredible regular season. The Caps boast three players with over 200 hits last season including Ovie and Brooks Orpik had over 300. The Canucks training staff will be earning their pay this series.
Caps in 6
NYR vs Pittsburgh – I know, the Rangers put up great numbers this year. They have an incredibly deep and talented d corps, but they also have Rick Nash. Pittsburgh did not have the season they had hoped, but it’s the play offs and Mr. Crosby has endorsements to earn.
The Pens need Chris Letang back, but I have a hunch they can beat the Rangers without him if Malkin and Crosby earn their ridiculous salaries. Also, Marc-Andre Fleury is a weirdo. He reminds me at times of the goalie in Slap Shot, but he also put up one more shut out than Carey Price this season. If he’s on he can steal the series. If the Rangers don’t strike early in the series he may have his A game on.
Pittsburgh in 7
Anaheim vs The Peg
I love the Jets. Sorta. I root for them anyway. They have a great core. They have a machine in Dustin Byfuglien. They have a mediocre goalie with a chip on his shoulder, but Anaheim is no shy petal. They are big, mean, and can play with any team in the league.
This is one upset I don’t see.
Ducks in 5
Nashville vs Chicago
This probably will be one of the most entertaining and close series in round one. Nashville’s D is simply scary as is their goalie. Sadly they have some key injuries to deal with.
Chicago in 6
Tampa Bay vs Detroit
Everything screams Tampa Bay on paper, but this is Mike Babcock they’re facing and anything can happen. Mike is UFA himself so he’s also playing for a contract either with Detroit or with Toronto or other suitors.
Even with their injuries Tampa’s offense should be able to handle Detroit, but it’s going to be a close one.
TB will win.
St. Louis vs Minnesota should be closer than it will be. St. Louis has it all, but has never really put it together. Not sure why, but Minnesota should not be taken for granted.
Blues in 6
And the final series.
The one I dread writing about.
Montreal vs Ottawa.
I’m going to pick the Sens to win. Yes, Montreal is a great team in some ways, but toughness not quite yet. The problem with Montreal’s toughness is that it’s not from the best players with the exception of Max Pacioretty who most likely is recovering from a concussion or concussion like symptoms. Even if healthy he would be the target of the Sens brutes and Ottawa has a lot of muscle and puts the bod on better than just about any team in the East.
How will Pacioretty (if he’s back) Gallagher, Markov, and yes, even PK Subban stand up to the beating that Ottawa will most likely inflict starting in game one? Can David Desharnais even hope to breathe in play off hockey?
For Montreal to win, and they should, they would have to get off to a good start, get some power play chances, and close those. Sadly, for some strange reason, the power play has been the Hab’s weakest squad this year. Mr. Bergevin should have called up Steve Shutt and sought some advice as the former PP coach and HOF scorer did a great job while with the team over a decade ago.
This will be an acid test for Montreal. They should win in 5, but most likely will lose.
Sens in 5.
To recap my winners: Flames, Capitals, Penguins, Ducks, Hawks, Lightning, Blues, and Senators.
What do you think Hockey fans? You can post your comments below.