“Sorry, honey. I’ll see you in another two months after the Stanley Cup Playoffs are over.” – Cheesy Bruin (to his lady friend).
BLOOMINGBURG, NY – For me, this is the best time of year on my dwindling sports calendar. There’s always beer and a fine selection of bourbon at my house, so just gimme a heads up if ya wanna come to this sleepy little area for a night of NHL Playoff hockey. The only thing I ask is to keep conversation to a minimum if the Bruins are on TV. Short Matt, I’ll duct tape your mouth shut if you’re anything like you were the night we attended a Bruins-Rangers game a few years ago. It’s nice to see that somebody took advantage of their college English degree but communications during Bruins hockey is a no-no. Here are my first round predictions if you’d like to invest a wooden nickel on them.
You’ve got all four teams who can emerge out of this side of the bracket. Outside of the Caps, the goaltending is top-notch and the defense is stout… The Isles struggled somewhat toward the last quarter of the regular season… the Bruins were the best since the trade deadline… the Caps held on for home ice… and the Penguins fared well even without Malkin for a while. I’m not picking the Bruins-Caps series but know this: the Bruins are favorites to win the series and not too many are picking the Craps and Tom Wilson. I just frigging hate it when any of my teams are the overwhelming consensus. HATE IT!
Penguins over Isles in 6. Historically, the Isles almost always beat Pittsburgh in the post season. John Tonelli after Randy Carlyle misplayed the puck in the right wing corner in the 80’s and David Volek’s OT winner in the 90’s. There’s too much momentum with the Pens to ignore, they’re getting scoring distribution, Malkin is coming back and the goaltending tandem of DeSmith and Jarry is very present.
Carolina over Nashville in 5. The ‘Canes have been ultra consistent with their workmanlike approach to the game and fits well within the style of playoff hockey. Rod Brind’amour gets his troops ready and is one of the best kept coaching secrets in the NHL. This won’t be as easy as a five game series would seem. I see one-goal and overtime outcomes.
Tampa Bay over Florida in 7. Before Florida gained two NHL franchises, the Sunshine State was the rumored landing spot for Reg Dunlop and the Charlestown Chiefs. This matchup will be the best opening round series. The Cats have some learning to do in the post season while the Bolts have been there and done that. Excellent goaltending in Vasilevskiey and Stamkos and Kucherov ready to go.
Montreal over Maple Leafs in 6. This series is what Eastern Canada has been craving forever. The two storied Original Six franchises collide in hopes of getting hockey hosers north of the border interested in hockey again. Don’t ask me how this result plays itself out. Toronto hardly ever gets out of the first round and they do so in excruciating fashion. Jumbo Joe Thornton is now Geriatric Joe, with teeth equally as long as his beard. No goaltending to go with Auston Matthews isn’t helping promote the superstar. Carey Price’s signature moment is about to come as the eighteen point standings difference means zero.
Winnipeg over Edmonton in 7. I don’t care how much McDavid and Draisitl score – and by the way – without Draisitl, McDavid’s game suffers. I’d hit both of them until they spit blood. Hellebuyck has the huge edge in net. The Jets are big and outlast the speedy Oilers.
Colorado over St. Louis in 5. Regardless of what Ryan O’Reilly thinks (he’s on record saying his mates will beat the ‘Lanche) this one’s over before it starts. Why give the team that finished 21 points ahead of you in the standings some bulletin board material? Jack ass! This might be a sweep to be honest.
Minnesota over Vegas in 6. This is more heart over smart. The Wild turned out to get a worse draw when the Avs overtook the Golden Knights since I feel Minny matched better with Colorado than Vegas. Much. Better. Robin Lehner and Marc Andre-Fleury represent the best one, two punch in the league if not the world at the goalie position. I do have complete faith in the Wild, however. The defense is active in the opposing end while the forwards play two hundred foot hockey. Kirill Kaprizov will be the face of the NHL within three years but at some point the Wild goaltenders will have to make a stop in a big spot, as I just don’t know if Cam Talbot or Kaapo Kahkonen can do so. Fingers crossed, Angry Ward!
Feel free to drop your pucks below and come back tomorrow for a guy that once played goalie for the dart team, Junoir Blaber.