And now eight has turned to four. We are halfway through the Stanley Cup Playoffs and the remaining teams need only eight more wins to lift the coveted trophy. So, who have we got left?
How is everybody’s brackets looking? A complete disaster like my own? Nice to know.
The predators going all the way is something like a fairytale – and the ducks are most definitely the villain. They seem to be one of the most hated teams in the league, and if you ask a hockey fan who ought to win then the answer is likely to be “anyone but the Ducks”. The series kicks off on Friday, giving the Ducks very little chance to breathe or prepare as they only beat the Oilers in game seven last night. The two teams actually faced each other last year, and, eerily, the first two games were also played in Anaheim. Last year, Nashville won both and will be hoping to repeat that once more. The Preds will play defensively as it’s their strongest area. Kesler and Getzlaf – both very large, skilled, and experienced guys – did an outstanding job at smothering Draisaitl and McDavid to eliminate the Oilers, so they’ll be looking to do the same to the likes of Forsberg, Johansen, and Arvidsson. Nashville needs to take two early wins in Anaheim to shake the Ducks’ confidence then hammer the nails in the coffin on home ice.
Help us Pekka Rinne, you’re our only hope.
Yet again, did anyone expect the Sens to get this far? Can anybody name more than five players on their roster? Whilst the team hasn’t got many big “superstars” like Crosby or Malkin, they do have captain Erik Karlsson who has been skating the entire playoffs on a broken heel though you wouldn’t know. At 26, he’s in his prime; he’s a two time Norris trophy winner and has points in all games of the playoffs except one. They’re not a particularly high scoring team – they finished 22nd in the league for goals per games – they’re very good at opportunistic breakaways when the opposition is napping, but these plays are often orchestrated by Karlsson. Locking Karlsson down will be key to keeping the Sens quiet. As for the Pens, they’ve just come off a game seven win against the Washington Capitals so confidence levels are high. Marc Andre-Fleury has been absolutely wonderful. Crosby, likely nursing a concussion still, is always dangerous – and the second part of the two headed monster, Evgeni Malkin is an intimidating presence on the ice and leads the team with 18 points in the playoffs. Like a hydra, you cut off one head and more appear… Guentzel, Rust, Kessel, Hornqvist, and Schultz are all firing the cannons in Pittsburgh. Ottawa needs to be water tight in defence, but with so many Penguins firing at them, it will be a tough sell. The Pens have a home ice advantage in the first two games, but after Crosby severed Marc Methot’s finger in the regular season, the Sens might be out for revenge.
One BIG reason to root for the Sens is that if a Canadian team win then Donald Trump will not get his hands on the Stanley Cup! LET’S GO SENS!