Another regular season over and we can now get to the good stuff. This year had some great stories with one of the better ones being that we get 5 Canadian teams in the playoffs a year after none had performed well enough to challenge for the Cup in ’16. Even as a Caps fan I appreciate the level of excitement that is raised a notch with Canadian teams included in the dance. Probably the best story of all is the rebounding of your Edmonton Oilers. Falling just short of a division winning season has to be considered a flat out success for the upstart Oilers and has given rise to some higher hopes for this season. Perhaps a chance at the conference final is even in order and after that who knows.
My predictions for the first round are:
Washington vs Leafs – Caps in 5. Caps depth proves too much for “happy-to-be-here” Leafs. Kuznetsov will be the x-factor for Caps throughout.
Pittsburgh vs Columbus – Jackets in 7. This will be a flat out war. Werenski health is a concern however. Bobrovsky is the key.
Montreal vs New York – Montreal in 6.
Goalie battle. Price frustrates Rangers enough. King Henry is not the goalie of old. Good because Habs will need soft goaltending. Case closed.
Ottawa vs Boston – Boston in 5.
Bruins hot at right time. Karlsson may not be at 100%. Yikes. Marchand is a game changer.
Anaheim vs Calgary – Calgary in 7.
This series should be PG13. Bad blood and war of words already. Fowler loss huge for Ducks and Flames hungry. Tkachuk will keep Ducks pre-occupied.
Chicago vs Nashville – Hawks in 5.
As usual, Kane and co. should rise up over made over Preds team. Subban won’t be enough. Experience hurts here.
St. Louis vs Minnesota – Blues in 7
Minnesota different team last 20 games. St. Louis different team last 20 games. Both different directions however. Shattenkirk loss hasn’t hurt Blues. Minnesota trending down.
Edmonton vs San Jose – Oilers in 7
While the Sharks experience counts for something here, the age of that experience may be catching up. Injuries haven’t helped Sharks here either. McDavid is operating on another planet and he’ll be enough to keep surging Oilers in the loop. The Oilers just have to take one game at a time and don’t get ahead of themselves. There is a lot of excitement in Oil country right now and with that comes expectations. It’ll be interesting to see how young Oilers respond after the inevitable loss. I suspect they’ll be fine and with McDavid having played high pressure since he was 3 I am confident he’ll perform at his regular pace. He lives for big moments. Keep an eye on 14 when it comes to a key goal. I for one have been waiting to see Eberle in big games since his world Jr days.
Should be a fun round.