Tonight the Stanley Cup playoffs begin. As we all expected the Chicago Blackhawks did not qualify for postseason play. There are tons of exciting headlines to embark on as we venture into the series however. Battles between Tampa and Toronto, Rangers and Devils, and what should be an absolute brawler of a matchup between the Wild and Stars.
Blackhawk Up Predictions:
Bruins over Panthers: While I don't think it will be a clean sweep, I believe the depth and goaltending should be enough to overpower a Matthew Tkachuk led Florida squad.
Tampa Bay does it again by beating Toronto in a deciding game. Goaltending, experience, and grit win this one.... again. I believe that Toronto has the far superior roster although its tough to say as the Lightning certainly are full of star players. Can the Leafs beat Andrei Vasilevskiy? That's the question here.
Hurricanes blow by the Islanders. At some point the Carolina Hurricanes are going to have to give it their all and make the late game grit plays to win big series. While the Isles have Sorokin and that could win a game for them, I feel the talent gap here is too wide offensively.
Devils over Rangers in a thriller. Maybe the most exciting 1st round matchup. When it came down to it, I'm picking the speed aspect here. I think the young devils forwards will be an issue for the Rangers defense. It's likely a coin flip of a series, but I'll go with the young upstarts.
Jets to upset the Knights. They have nothing to lose and have a clear goaltending edge. The Golden Knights may be looking ahead and I think it could bite them. Not all the way healthy, this Knights roster for the best in the west, but more due to a lack of healthy squads in the conference (them included). This is my upset pick for the opening round.
Oilers over Kings. Its tough to not pick McDavid, but I could see a scenario where the Kings actually jump out to a series lead or 2 before Edmonton rights the ship and wins it.
Avalanche to upend upstart Kraken. Most will pick this the way I am, but I will say its common that a team that knows it shouldn't win... does. I think its competitive at times, but the Aves will flex its playoff might in the end.
Stars shoot down the Wild. I think that whomever wins this may need a vacation. Not only could be assaulting the eyes with alot of green, it could also be the series with the most penalties. It's an even matchup, but I'm picking Dallas.
There you have it, my predictions for round 1. Plenty of Blackhawks' implications here too. We want the Rangers to advance to the conference finals in order to turn the 2nd round pick into a future 1st. If Tampa Bay loses in the first 2 series we lock in the 20th selection as well. What if the Leafs have another heartbreak and it accelerates their implosion and thusly increases the value of our future 1st of theirs? These are just some of the Chicago angles to watch out for.