Stanley Cup Playoffs Round Three

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?

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How is everybody’s brackets looking? A complete disaster like my own? Nice to know.

Ducks/Preds

The predators going all the way is something like a fairytale – pekkarinne.jpgand 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.

Penguins/Senators

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!

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Stanley Cup Playoffs Round Two

It’s with a heavy heart that we bid farewell to half of our teams until next season. See ya in October: San Jose Sharks, Calgary Flames, St Louis Blues, Chicago Blackhawks, Columbus Blue Jackets, Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins, and the Montreal Canadiens. But to the remaining eight… welcome to round two – four wins down, twelve to go.

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Preds/Blues

For the first time in NHL history, an 8th seed swept a first seed and I think we all became fans of the Nashville Predators for the way they took out the trash. When Shea Weber was traded for PK Subban, a lot of people thought it was a crazy move. Blackhawks captain, Jonathan Toews, certainly was relieved, but too bad… the lmao.pngPreds are more than one man! Elite goal tender, Pekka Rinne saved 123 of 126 shots he faced giving him a tasty .976sv%, but rival goalie Jake Allen has also been incredible with a .956sv%, and since Mike Yeo took over the Blues _ months ago, the team have allowed less than two goals a game average. Yet before players can get to the goal, they have to get past Josi, Ellis, Ekholm, and Subban, who have been defending spectacularly. Firing from the offense, Blues have Vladimir Tarasenko, Vladimir Sobotka, who has tumblr_oorr91sO9T1wngza3o1_500returned from three years in the KHL, and Paul Stasyny, back from injury. The Preds have Ryan Johansen, Viktor Arvidsson, Filip Scorsberg Forsberg, and should hopefully have Colin Wilson back from injury after missing round one. This will be the tightest series in the Western Conference because the teams are so evenly matched.
Prediction: Blues win in seven (I’d really love it to be Nashville though…) 

 

Ducks/Oilers

The Oilers will be feeling pretty proud that they knocked out the San Jose Sharks in six games as the Sharks were last year’s runners up, and the Oilers haven’t been in the playoffs for a decade. That being said, the pressure from fans is high, but they have captain Connor (McJesus) McDavid who has won the Art Ross trophy this year for most points – in only his second season. (Let us not forget that he spent a few months out in his rookie year following a dirty hit into the boards that broke his collar bone). The Ducks always surprise me when they consistently make the playoffs… I forget they exist because I never come across their fans (should have stayed as the Mighty Ducks). In their 22 year history they’ve made the playoffs 12 times, and of those twelve times, they have been the division champion a staggering six times, and won one Stanley Cup. They swept Calgary, so they’re doing something right. Talbot was outstanding in goal against the Sharks, and the Oilers have no significant injuries in the team, but they’re inexperienced – particularly in the playoffs – and up against a very physical, (sometimes dirty) experienced team with the likes of Kesler, Bieksa, Getzlaf, and Perry.
Prediction: Ducks win in six. 

Rangers/Senators

I’m not sure if anybody expected the forgotten Canadian team, the Ottawa Senators, to make it past the first round but the Bruins were sluggish this season and niggled by injuries, so they had an easier opponent. Last time the New York Rangers faced the Canadiens, the Habs were without Carey Price and were beat in six. They declared that if they had their brickwall of a goaltender they’d have beaten the Rangers; well they had him this time and they still got whooped by the Rangers. The Sens are carried more often than not by Erik Karlsson, but so far Bobby Ryan and ex-Ranger, Derick Brassard, are leading in goals and assists in the post-season. The Rangers are favourites to win here. In their last fifteen matches, NYR have taken ten of them. Rangers have good depth; Zuccarello led the team in points, but hot on his tail were Miller, Stepan, and Kreider then they also have the King of Sweden, Henrik Lundqvist in goal.
Prediction: Rangers to win in five. 

Penguins/Capitals

This is gonna be the best match up – without a doubt. I am biased as HELL but I’ll be cheering for Pittsburgh – but they have the players to back it up. They’re without Kris Letang and Carl Hagelin who are on injured reserve, as well as

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The End of Crochkin? Say it ain’t so!

Matt Murray who is unable to skate. Their fourth highest point scorer was Sheary with 53 points in his first full season… to put that into perspective Zuccarello, the point leader for rangers, had 59. Kessel notched up 70, Malkin had 72, and Crosby leads the league with an 89 point season. However, hot on his tail was all star Nicklas Backstrom with 86 points. Ovi scores 33 goals and 36 assists – don’t accuse him of not passing again. Big scorers all round in these battles. It’s not just about the points; both teams are notoriously close in terms of cohesion and play like well oiled machines. Whilst Holtby has a .925sv%, Fleury has the edge at .933sv% for the playoffs. However, the Pens are without Murray to back him up, and Fleury can be shaky at times during playoffs in previous years. The big worry for the Caps – besides the two headed monster and the other penguins – is that they tend to fall apart during the playoffs despite being a regular season juggernaut. Still, the Caps ended Toronto’s playoff dreams in game seven whilst Justin Bieber was in attendance in his Maple Leafs shirt, shame.
Prediction: Penguins take it in seven (I really hope)