The first round of NHL Playoff games has begun and it’s like an early (and extended) Christmas for me. I love this time of year as you never know quite what will happen. Who will be the Cinderella team? Who will choke? Who will sneak out with a few OT wins?
It’s too early to tell but last night we saw mostly what we expected. The Rangers did give the Caps a run for their money with a 2-1 OT win but as we noted, the Caps are good in close games and have more talent to pull a win out in a game like that.
The Red Wings rolled on the Coyotes 4-2 and news surfacing out of Phoenix suggesting that the team will be headed toward Winnipeg exactly two seconds after playoff eliminated can not help any of the players prepare for the game. It’s hard enough to prepare for a playoff game and having a the movers size up your locker while you’re taping your stick might be a bit of a distraction.
|4/14 7:30 PM||#7||Buffalo Sabres||vs.||Philadelphia Flyers||#2|
|SABRES: Buffalo shifted into overdrive to make the playoffs and wound up with what could be a rather cozy #7 seed. That’s because the #2 seed, Philadelphia, has stumbled down the stretch. Nothing like meeting up with an opponent that is struggling. The Sabres have only lost 1 game in their last ten and are clicking at the right time. They can put points on the board and have strong goal tending at the moment so let’s see they can’t piece together a great series against a talented Flyers squad.
FLYERS: Philly has struggled. There. I said it. The Flyers have one of the best teams on paper. Great depth and experience. So, why not pick them to make the Finals? Mainly because Philly has struggled down the stretch. The once might Flyers have stumbled enough to plant the seed of doubt and the goal tending is questionable at the moment. Not horrible, just questionable.
PREDICTION : Sabres win series 4-3, my upset pick of the week
|4/14 7:00 PM||#6||Montreal Canadians||vs.||Boston Bruins||#3|
|CANADIANS: The Habs vs Bruins should be the most physical and demanding series in the NHL. The teams have never liked each other but after Zdeno Chara’s cheap hit on Max Pacioretty there’s a bit of a fire burning under the Montreal Bench. However, the Habs lack the offensive power and depth to go deep into the playoffs. Can they get it up to beat the Bruins? Probably. Can they keep it going all the way to the Finals? Probably not.
BRUINS: The Bruins are stronger and better than last year when they got an early bounce out of the playoffs in the second round. The Bruins need to shake off any doubts and just power their way through the playoffs. They have the goal tending and depth to go deep but will have to hold off an emotional Montreal team to prove they’re ready.
PREDICTION: Bruins win series 4-3
|4/14 10:00 PM||#7||L.A. Kings||vs.||San Jose Sharks||#2|
|KINGS: The Kings limp into the playoffs with some of their best talent on the IR. The good news is the goal and defensive play for the Kings is solid enough to keep the Kings alive. Sadly, unless someone steps up and has a stellar offensive output that shocks the hockey world, the Kings are going to have a hard time lighting the lamp.
SHARKS: As noted earlier, the Sharks are an outstanding 26-6-4 record since January 13th. No team has burned up the ice more than the Sharks and no team can challenge the Canucks more than the high-scoring Sharks. I expect the Sharks to come out flying and easily dispose of the Kings. Unless the Kings can somehow call up Robert Shaw to play for them, this looks like one Hollywood story where the Shark wins.
PREDICTION: Sharks win series 4-1