Atlantic Division Finals
Rangers vs Senators
Not a lot of people had this outcome. For whatever reason, the Rangers were considerable underdogs against as hot Habs team and other than a game three letdown, the Rangers controlled most of the series. McDonagh neutralized Pacioretty and other than Radulov, they did not produce much in the way of offense. As for the Sens, well, 4 of the 6 games against the Bruins went to overtime with the Senators winning three of them. Very tight series, but then again, that’s what they do. They play close games. Very reminiscent of a early Rangers game with Torts as the head coach. Play scrappy. Block shots. But this team has more talent than those Rangers teams.
However, the Rangers just came out of a tight series with an elite goalie and now they are up against only Craig Anderson. With how well the Rangers skate and how well Henrik Lundqvist looked against Montreal, I like the Blueshirts to advance.
Rangers in 6
Metropolitan Division Finals
Capitals vs Penguins
Let me start off with saying how disappointing that this series is happening in the second round. The two best records in the east square off in the second round. Good job, NHL and not using a normal format for your playoffs. But whatever, we are here. The Penguins simply over-matched the Blue Jackets in the first round in impressive fashion. Their skill and speed were on full display. And when Columbus wanted to get scrappy, they got scrappy back. As for the Capitals, not so much. They did not look like a President’s Trophy winner against the Maple Leafs. In what was a surprisingly close series, the Caps won in 6, but 5 of the games went to overtime. That series could have went either way.
The Pens will be without Kris Letang, as usual come playoff time, but they still have so much talent on the team and Sullivan has them playing so well and so consistently. Alexander Ovechkin has never advanced past the second round. It is unfortunate he has to play the Penguins for a second year in a row in the second round, but that’s the way it is and he has to deal with another early exit. Give me Sid the Kid.
Penguins in 7
Central Division Finals
Blues vs Predators
Upsets! Both of these teams were heavy underdogs in the fist round. For the Blues, Jake Allen was a savior. The Wild controlled much of the play, but Allen was able to stymy the Wild’s chances. The Blues traded Shattenkirk midseason thinking their season is over. Fired longtime head coach Ken Hitchcock and now they are in the second round. Go figure. They even finished the season strong and got to avoid the Blackhawks in the first round. However, the Predators did not seem to mind. They swept the Hawks in dominating fashion, shutting out Chicago in the first two games. Rinne was great, but the team simply dominated.
It’s a tough series to call, as both teams seem to be jelling and both are riding a hot goaltender. This should be a fast and fun series. Ultimately, I think the Predators have the better roster and a dominant top line that will be the difference.
Predators in 7
Pacific Division Finals
Ducks vs Oilers
The Ducks were seemingly outplayed for much of the Flames series, but Calgary could not close out games. Anaheim’s experience showed as they battled back to win the series. They have size and speed. However, Gibson and Bernier have not shown they are leading goaltenders, so that could be an issue going forward. As for the Oilers, they did look like the better team in the first round against the Sharks. They dominated the opening game only to blow it, showing their youth, but they rebounded and won 4 of the next 5 games. Their only loss: 7-0. How that happened I do not know. But they got the job done.
Connor McDavid was as good as advertised and I am so excited to see this guy play this season and for years to come. Cam Talbot will have to be very good, because the Ducks bring the bodies to the front of the net. More times than not, experience wins over youth, but this won’t be one of those times.