By Gillon Gross

Penguins (1) Vs. Islanders (8)

The pens are in it to win it. The teams roster looks like a fantasy team. If Marc-Andre Fleury is good enough, the penguins are the cup favorite. Fleury is as streaky as they get; posting shutouts one week, being pulled the next. Which side of Fleury will we get? The Islanders hope they get the bad side. Long Island has a playoff team for the first time since 2007. Some have them as a major threat to the Pens. A fantastic goaltender in Nabakov, alongside superstars like John Tavares, and Mike Grabner can strike fear into the opposition, but that is not what makes this team dangerous. The Isles are the hardest working team in the NHL. They can go into he series as an underdog and play their game. This young energized team can give the nervous Penguins some trouble. Penguins in six.

 

Canadiens (2) Vs. Senators (7)

A good ol’ Canadian match up! Montreal is a team Ottawa should be thrilled to play. Montreal’s blue line has been hit hard with the loss of their top defenseman Alexi Emelin. Carey Price has never made a playoff run. As good as he looks when the pressure is off, I must see Price do well in big games. In the last two games of Montreal’s season, Price had a shaky .856 save percentage. Is this a playoff preview for Carey Price? Canadien fans hope not.  This team has blaring inexperience.  Montreal’s core skaters include P.K Subban, Alex Galchenyuk, and Brendan Gallagher not; none of these players over age 24. The Canadiens are not built for the playoffs. The senators have a brighter future. Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson is back, along with 30+ goal scorer Milan Michalek. Goaltender Craig Anderson can keep his team win games. He showed that in last years playoffs pushing the first seeded Rangers to seven games. Anderson missed games this year, but led the NHL in goals against average and save percentage.  Paul MacLean is a world class coach, who I believe can be a difference maker from behind the bench. An experienced, well-coached, healthy, talented team is all you can ask for in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Senators in six.

Capitals (3) Vs. Rangers (6)

The fourth time in five years these teams meet in the playoffs. This is the single most intriguing match up in this years Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Rangers went 10-3-1 in the month of April. The Caps are 8-1-1 in their last ten. The two hottest teams in the NHL will clash in this round; neither of these teams are ready to exit. Adam Oats and the Caps have found the perfect balance between defense and offense. Alex Ovechkin is red hot. He is determined to remind fans that he is the still the best scorer in the league. Nicklas Backstrom has done a tremendous job making plays at the center ice position, and Mike Green has been a key at the blue line. The Caps are loaded with talent, but they don’t have a big name goaltender. If Braden Holtby can let his skaters feel safe in front of him, the Capitals will win this series. The Rangers are banged up. Marc Staal and Ryan Clowe will be missed. The loss of Staal means Ryan McDonagh is going to be seeing Alex Ovechkin. This is the second most important matchup in this series. The most important is the goaltenders. Sometimes it seems you could put a pewee team in front of Henrik Lundqvist and he can win the game. Holtby’s job is not to beat him, it’s to tie him. This series is all about the close matchups. I think the Caps will benefit from home ice. Caps is seven.

Bruins (4) Vs. Leafs (5)Washington Capitals v New York Rangers

The Bruins struggled in April in a big way. One thing you need in the playoffs in confidence. The Bruins lack that confidence. The Leafs have a separate issue. They will play without their captain Dion Phaneuf. He is big and strong, just like the Bruins offensive core. Tukka Rask has been up to the task of replacing Tim Thomas in the regular season. But I question his ability to remain emotionally sturdy throughout his first playoff run as a starter. James Reimer is also in his first playoffs as a starter, but he is known to have a stiffer lip. There is going to be a lot of checking, and chipyness in this series for sure. This emotional style is how both these teams like to play. This series is a lot about question marks; not a lot about facts. Overshadowing all that remains to be discussed going into this series, I am alarmed at how poorly the Bruins have played in April. This tells me that one thing is certain; the winner of game one will surely win the series. Leafs in six.

 

Filed under: Mohl Gross, NHL


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