NHL playoff preview
Even the experts are having a hard time picking these NFL playoffs
Author: Harrison Brooks – Contributor
Alright, alright, alright, (said in best Matthew McConaughey voice), NHL playoffs are right around the corner, and I could not be more excited for them. I’m especially excited since my team, the Calgary Flames, have a chance to make the playoffs for the first time since 2009! That being said, they have far from clinched a spot. In fact, half of the Western Conference playoff spots are still up for grabs. The East, on the other hand, is mostly set other than a couple teams battling for the last spot. It may be a little early to write a playoff preview, due to the current state of the western conference, but this is the last issue of the semester, so I’m doing it anyway.
One thing to note about the playoffs this year is that, they are not based on the seeding system of years past. This year the playoffs are based on divisions. The top three teams in each of the two divisions makes it, with the last two wildcard spots going to the teams with the highest points of the remaining teams. How the match-ups will work is the two teams with that finished first in their divisions play the two wild card teams and #2 and #3 in each division play each other.
With that cleared up, let’s start with the less complicated Eastern Conference. As it stands right now, it is between Montreal, New York Rangers, and Tampa Bay, battling for the top spot in the conference, and the chance to play the lowest wildcard spot, which is still being fought for between Boston, and Ottawa. Assuming the East stays how it is for the rest of the season, here is how the match-ups would look.
First series would be Montreal vs. Boston. There is a ton of hostility between these two teams and it always makes for intense exciting hockey. However, Montreal always seems to have Boston’s number, so I will give the edge to the Habs. Next will be the Rangers against the Washington Capitals. With New York’s strong D, plus the addition of Keith Yandle, they should have no problem stifling Ovechkin and company. For the first of the two divisional series, we will see the Lightning take on the Red Wings, which should be a relatively easy win for Tampa. The second should be an exciting one with Crosby’s Penguins facing the rising New York Islanders, led by John Tavares. I am not even going to predict who will win because, honestly I have no idea what to expect.
On to the Western Conference, this is where things get interesting. Minnesota has established themselves as a playoff team and it would take them losing almost all their remaining games to miss. That leaves four teams fighting for three spots. I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to say that L.A. will find a way in, so in essence, it’s Calgary vs. Winnipeg for the last spot, and, coincidentally, it may literally come down to Calgary vs. Winnipeg as they play each other in the last game of the regular season. Because of the fact that I’m a huge homer, and the Flames are the most resilient team in the league, I’m going to predict that the Flames hang on to their current place of third in the Pacific division, meaning L.A. will take the last wildcard spot, and Winnipeg will fall just short. If this comes true it will make for three of four series between rivals in the first round. Those three series would be St. Louis – Chicago, L.A. – Anaheim, and the one I’m most excited for, Calgary – Vancouver. The fourth series should be a pretty good as well, with Nashville facing Minnesota.
I won’t even bother with predictions other than an Eastern Conference team will win the Stanley Cup based on how beat-up whoever comes out of the West will be. However it all turns out, you had better prepare yourself for the blood bath that is going to be this year’s NHL playoffs.