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2019 Playoffs are here

2019-04-07

Round 1 Playoff Predictions

Although I generally hate doing predictions this year’s playoffs have such amazing match-ups I couldn’t resist.  The story lines are boundless. Can the defending champions who moved north in the offseason defend their title?  Can the brash President’s Trophy winner end the slew of early exits by previous winning teams?  Can San Jose return to the greatness enjoyed just a few years ago? Will any of Buffalo, Carolina, Philly or Boston give the East something to cheer about after three years of being dominated by the West?

Eastern Conference

New York Islanders vs Carolina Hurricanes

There is nothing like starting off with potentially the most exciting match up.  The Isles are a team of All-stars who took the entire season to gel into a playoff team.  Shutting down Giroux, Kane, Toews, Oshie and Marchand will be a huge challenge for the Hurricanes.  On the other hand Simmonds, Barzal and Point will offer similar difficulties for the Isles D.  As in most series it should come down to goal-tending. At the end of it all I just think the Isles have too much depth here for Luongo and the Hurricanes to handle. Prediction: Isles in 6 games

New York Rangers vs Philadelphia Flyers

The key addition of Patrice Bergeron at the deadline was a game changer for the Flyers while the Rangers were unloading high end talent (namely John Carlson).  The Flyers soared back to the top of the Metro with Bergeron and the Rangers whimpered into the end of the season. It is hard to see how the Rangers win this one. Their only hope is in that miracle 30% power play. No miracles here. Prediction: Flyers in 5 games.

New Jersey Devils vs Boston Bruins

The Devils are having a dream season after the acquisition of Ben Bishop who was rejuvenated in East Rutherford. Boston was steady all season, finishing their campaign with 58 wins. This series could come down to which goalie can withstand the other team’s onslaught. Hellebuyck had a solid if not outstanding season with a 2.40 gaa and .918 save percentage. For Boston to win, that save percentage will need to improve.  This series should be a battle of punches and counter punches through the seven games.  Prediction: Bruins in 7 gruelling games

Toronto Maple Leafs vs Buffalo Sabres

Of all the series in the east this one could be the least intriguing. Buffalo brings a great balance of Offence and Defence while the Leafs will rely entirely on two players. The Sabres Fantastic Four thirty goal guys (Dadynov, Palmieri, Wheeler, and Arvidsson) will drive Carey Price bonkers. While the Dynamic Duo of Crosby and Ovechkin will need to overcome whatever struggles they faced during their mediocre seasons.  It is most likely that Pekke Rinne will keep the Leafs in check while Price struggles with the Sabres. Prediction: Sabres in 6 games

Western Conference

Nashville Preditors vs Chicago Blackhawks

This series is more like a David vs Goliath. There really isn’t much of a reason to take the Preds in any facet of the game except goaltending. Bobrovsky is a superior goalie to Martin Jones. That being said Bobrovsky will probably face 15-20 shots more per game. The games may be 3-2 scores. I just don’t see the Preds winning one of them. Prediction Blackhawks in 4

Minnesota Wild vs Winnipeg Jets

After this series is over the scorekeepers will need the summer off. Both Minny and Winny are gonna score a ton. Neither goalie will put any fear in opposing scorers.  When two one dimensional teams are facing each other you just have to go with the one who is better at that one thing. Simply put, the Wild can score better than the Jets. Not a lot better, but enough to get them into a second round match-up with Chicago. Prediction: Wild in 7 ridiculously high scoring games

Arizona Coyotes vs San Jose Sharks

Arizona has had a great season getting to the playoffs after last year’s disappointments. It is unfortunate for them they are coming up against the powerhouse that is the Sharks. This might be the Sharks last season with their tremendous core of McDavid, Eichel and MacKinnon. GM Luke Wile knows this and brought in Tuukka Rask for the sole purpose of winning in this playoff season. I see Arizona winning a game or two but not much more than that. The Sharks just have too much depth here. Sharks in 5 games.

Edmonton Oilers vs Calgary Flames

Sadly, this could be the least interesting series of them all. The Battle of Alberta has been renowned for the breath taking moments. For a 2 vs 3 match the gap between the two teams seems wider. Gibson vs Quick is a non-contest. Ehlers 100 point season does not seem sustainable, while Connor and Monahan seem perfectly normal at 30 plus goals and may be ready to break out further. The Oilers just don’t seem to match up against this Flames team. Flames in 6 games