Heres my 1st round breakdown without including the results from last night.
Flames/Avs : Avs came into the playoffs pretty hot (they had to), but they have been a streaky team this year with practically one scoring line. Former caps backup Gruby helped push them in with a fantastic streak. Flames on the other hand rested some guys down the stretch and weren’t playing their best hockey. Gio is a Norris lock and tons of talent and Finally(?) a goalie to hold them in? Avs won’t be able to match, Flames in 6.
Sharks/Knights: Hate the knights, prefacing this bias review. Sharks stumbled into the playoffs, didn’t feel like caps-west would ever win again. Even without EK65, they were winning some games, and lets just say that Jones was uh…bad. He is back, and the guy who practically willed the Sens to the ECF is back and on a much more talented team. Knights picked up Stone and had some stupid high corsi on that line, without much production. MAF has been overworked and won’t have the magic of last year, and Subban just isn’t good enough.
Sharks in 6 (and that’s generous)
Preds/stars: Preds haven’t wow’d me at all, they look good, but average. Stars on the other hand, just got Zucc back and Glassbones Bishop is in Ultra Instinct form to say the least(something like .963 in his last 15 with 7 Shutouts. Heiskanen? They knew to not trade him for EK65, everyone thought they were crazy, this kid is just unreal and will prove it as time goes on…I mean, hes only 19.
Stars in 7.(I am assuming bishop will hurt something for a game or 2)
Jets/Blues: Blues the best team in the league since January, Binnington has looked locked in and honestly should be in consideration for the calder. He turned their entire season around since Allen is a tirefire. They were an amazing team on paper before the season started, and proved it. On the other hand, the Jets have been…medicore with a ton of talent. Hellebuyck isn’t as good as last year, the lines are rolling, but not at the pace of last year. Luckily Buff and Morrissey are back to help the blue line, but they need some help. Laine has Struggled to say the least this year with a -24 and couldn’t score to save his life, looks lost off the puck.
Blues in 7.
TB/Jackets: Another team I hate vs. a team I want to lose. I hate the jackets, I hate torts, I hate bob, I hate 40 year old calder winner(not quite, but still) Panarin. I wanted them to miss, going all in at the deadline while not even in a wildcard and missing would have been amazing, but they meshed and played well. Playoff Bob is fickle. Tampa is a record team, they are stacked and really are fantastic. Caps(bias) met them 3 times in the final 2 weeks of the season, and showed they aren’t as great as they appear and actually aren’t as tight as people think. Point, Stammer, Kuch, Hedman, and Vasy are a strong team and they are looking for redemption for last year, and 2015. Presidents trophy curse? Maybe…
TB in 5. (might not age well)
Bruins/Leafs: I like this series, glad its back. Bruins are an incredibly deep team and that was without Jojo and Pasta. Hes back scoring his top shelf linguini, Brad the rat is back and not doing dumb things. Bruins had a nice run in February and haven’t wavered much at all this season, injuries could be an issue though. Leafs looked like they won the cup during the summer with the signing of JT. They looked great, but the blueline STILL is in question. They brought in Muzzin at the deadline, but I still don’t think its enough.
Bruins in 5.
Caps/Canes: The CarWash series. Defending cup champs(CUP CHAMPS BABY) Capitals have a similar roster this year, minus the good boy beagle in terms of depth players that were important. One of the best teams since the deadline, fixing the D struggles. Dowd came in for the FO and the 4th line looks pretty okay. We brought in Hangelin and Jenson at the deadline, perfect considering Kempny went down in the finals weeks of the season and our PK needed some work. Ovi had ANOTHER rocket year, Conno looking more and more like the 6th OA he was, at only 26 (he looks 40). Kuzy can play shutdown against top lines, by not letting them actually touch the puck. We look deadly on the transition and the speed of Vrana is unreal. 7 20 goal scorers mean we have the depth, and Holts has been pretty okay without Korn. Orly and Nisky have picked it up a bit, and we have some depth in terms of 13th/14th forwards and 7th D. Hershey is also in the playoffs, so hopefully they don’t get too upset if we steal a player or two. Canes are strong, they are the unluckiest team in the league in terms of projected goals and have one of the most potent offenses in terms of generating high danger chances. Deadline trade Niederreiter has been a monster since joining, scoring all over the place. Mrazek can either look like Roy or one of the Flyers 7 goalies they played this year. I like the Canes, and regular season series they played well. But its the caps and I will be as bias as I want with my team. I waited 21 years to see the cup, I want to see it again!! BACK TO BACK.
Caps in 6.
Pens/Islanders: You would think I couldn’t hate more teams, well fun fact, I hate BOTH of these. Penguins for obvious reasons and Islanders because I am sick of their fans already. Trotz is a great coach, Korn is the reason they are in the playoffs and honestly contrary to popular belief, I don’t believe Trotz is the best playoff coach with many ridiculous choices he made during his caps tenure. All of that aside, I don’t think the Pens are a threat this year. They have been meh. Murray has been good, their top line is strong, but they aren’t the speed/talent demons they were during their cup years. Islanders don’t really score, they rely on the Trotz system of suffocating the other team, giving no space and winning games 1-0 or 2-0. If Lehner or Greiss let in any softies, they have their work cut out for them. Barzal is a treat to watch and slotted in as the JT 2.0, poise and confidence on the puck. I want them both to lose in 4.
Islanders in 6.