Folks, it’s the first time ever here at Blue Seat Blogs that we’re doing a playoff preview without our beloved Rangers. Sure, we can be sad and lament a lost season, but instead, let’s look at the bright side. For starters, no home bias! Woo!
Let’s take a look at the bracket:
And now, for our (non-)expert takes on the series….
New Jersey Devils vs. Tampa Bay Lightning — the blowout
Rob: TBL in 4. Sweeps are extremely rare in the NHL playoffs, but I’m going to be bold here. Tampa Bay is firmly a contender, while the Devils are more of a “nice story” on their way back to relevance. In many ways, they’re similar to the 05-06 Rangers, who we all remember fondly but were crushed by a more talented and experienced Devils team in that year’s playoffs.
Dave: TBL in 5. This is clearly TBL. It isn’t even going to be close. Plus I can’t in my right mind pick the Devils. It’s anti-American.
Pat: TBL in 6. Obviously Taylor Hall is the real deal but so is Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point, Victor Hedman, Anton Stralman, Ryan McDonagh, Mikhail Sergachev, and so on and so forth. Taylor Hall can still drag his team kicking and screaming through a bit of a series at least though.
Justin: TBL in 6. I obviously hate the Devils (except Brian Boyle), and there is a high probability of them irritatingly hanging around this series. However, the Lightning are too good for the dregs of the Hudson.
Chris: TBL in 5. The Devils needed Corey Schneider and Martin Brodeur playing goalie at the same time to have a chance in this series. They have Keith Kincaid.
Becky: TBL in 5. This makes me sick because I hate Tampa now more than I hate the Devils, but my hatred hasn’t completely wiped me of my logic. There’s no way the Devils pull this off.
Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Boston Bruins — the seven game series
Rob: TOR in 7. his is one of those matchups that happens due to the NHL’s divisional playoff format which pits two of the Conference’s top 4 teams against one another in the first round. Boston’s reward for finishing with 112 points is a date with the absolutely terrifying Leafs, who scored the second-most goals in the league this year (277, tied with Winnipeg). This is probably my favorite first round series of the eight. It’s a coin flip.
Dave: BOS in 7. I am torn on this one. Not because of any attachment to Nash, whom I want to win a Cup. I think these are two evenly matched teams. I think eventually Rask wins out over Andersson though.
Pat: TOR in 7. This one tears at me too because I hate the Bruins but want to see Nash win it, I kinda love the Leafs but hate Leafs fans, and also both teams are very very good. I think the “it was 4-1” curse is lifted by now at this point, so I give it to the Leafs.
Justin: TOR in 7. Hmm, who would be less annoying to listen to yammer on about winning this round? A bunch of chowder heads screaming in a butchered Irish accent about how “wicked good” their team is? Or a bunch of entitled Canadians still pissing and moaning about all their suffering (yeah, like we Ranger fans don’t know suffering) while they are building a future winner? I’d love to see Nasher win a Cup, but my hatred for Boston is too strong.
Chris: BOS in 6. Both teams are really good, but Frederik Anderson is too inconsistent to leave him out to dry with Ron Hainsey: Professional Top Pair D-man.
Becky: BOS in 6. I think Toronto has obviously improved, and were they playing a weaker team, they would be moving on. I just feel like this year will boast Boston from the East.
Columbus Blue Jackets vs. Washington Capitals — the possible upset
Rob: CBJ in 6. For some strange reason, I don’t buy Washington this year; probably because their 5v5 xG% for the season was 46.88, one spot beneath THE RANGERS. As we know, the Rangers sucked. Washington, despite their record, kind of sucks too. Teams like this usually get exposed in the post-season.
Dave: WSH in 6. Bob can’t stop a puck if his life depended on it right now. In the end, that’s all that matters.
Pat: CBJ in 7. Going to have to disagree with Justin about all the boring in the world: it’s this series. Ovechkin notwithstanding, I have no interest in either of these teams, they both just feel stale and old and CBJ hasn’t even been in it as much as the Caps have this past decade but oh well. Maybe it’s the intra-division thing, maybe it’s past history – in any event the Caps are the worst so this one’s going to end in OT, Game 7.
Justin: CBJ in 7. Oh, Torts. What else can really be said about what a complete treasure you are? Can you block shots into opposing nets? I’d like to see Torts mandate it. Maybe you could fist-fight Barry Trotz in the least athletic scuffle the sport has ever seen? You know what, it doesn’t matter. You could have your players cover themselves from head to toe in actual jam and grit and it wouldn’t help the Caps get out of the first round. Especially with Grubauer starting, for some reason.
Chris: CBJ in 7. The Capitals should have traded Holtby last year after his flameout against the Penguins for a top 4 defenseman and a depth forward to replace Nate Schmidt and Marcus Johansson. But I guess that’s why Brian McClellan gets paid big bucks to lose in the first round.
Becky: CBJ in 6. Just because the Caps choke. That’s all.
Philadelphia Flyers vs. Pittsburgh Penguins — the gong show
Rob: PIT in 6. Despite my hatred for both teams, Pittsburgh-Philly in the playoffs is truly entertainment at its finest. The games teeter on the edge of absurdity (if I remember correctly, there was a Sidney Crosby vs. Claude Giroux fight a few years ago), and the scores often get out of hand. We could see some 12 or 14 goal games in this one. Ultimately, the Penguins’ quality will win out.
Dave: PIT in 5. I can’t believe the Flyers are in the playoffs. The Penguins are better than their record, especially from the beginning of the season. This is a dangerous Pittsburgh team.
Pat: PHI in 7. One of these teams I hate a lot and the other is the Flyers. If you thought there’s not choosing between two awful choices, well, I have to say I’m actually kind of excited to see a new and improved Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier, Ivan Provorov, and Shayne Gostisbehere. That’s about it, but still.
Justin: PIT in 6. You know what? I don’t even care who wins, as long as these teams go all bath salts on each other. I know that hockey has moved on from its more, we’ll say, barbaric past, but there is something special about watching these two teams seek to literally decapitate each other. I can only assume that during this melee that Matt Murray will go from mediocre to bulletproof and carry the Penguins through.
Chris: PHI in 7. The Penguins have been paper tigers who rode a wave of PDO luck (see: last year’s Capitals series), a watered down Eastern Conference (see: last year’s Ottawa series) and injury luck (see: Tyler Seguin and Steven Stamkos 2 years ago, Ryan Johansen last year), to fall ass backwards into two cups. The party stops here.
Becky: PHI in 6. What can I say, I low-key love the goal horn in Philly. Also, I think that luck eventually wears thin. Hell, even Bill Cosby was eventually exposed. Philly isn’t great, but I think they have more, shall we say intangibles? and pull this off.
Colorado Avalanche vs. Nashville Predators — Colorado made the playoffs?
Rob: NSH in 7. I think Nashville wins this series, but Colorado is going to give them more trouble than they should. The Preds will have to survive a seventh game, but will ultimately take it.
Dave: NSH in 5. Nashville is my Cup pick. Colorado is…….I dunno. Colorado I guess? Nashville in 5.
Pat: NSH in 5. So I know Nathan MacKinnon is the truth, but is there any doubt that Nashville is, top to bottom, a much better team? They’re good enough that Eeli Tolvanen is going to start the series as a scratch probably! Come on!
Justin: NSH in 5. PK Subban. That is all.
Chris: NSH in 5. NSH 4-1 That’s not just my series preview, that’s the number of good defensemen each team has respectively.
Becky: NSH in 6. I just can’t take the Avalanche seriously. Unless you clone MacKinnon and teach him how to play defense, the Preds will run over them.
Minnesota Wild vs. Winnipeg Jets — the Actually Good Jets?
Rob: WPG in 6. Because this series pits the small-market Wild vs. the Canadian Jets, it probably won’t get the attention it deserves. These are two very good hockey teams, with different styles, backed by strong goaltending. Again, the NHL’s playoff format is probably unkind to the Jets here, who with 114 points finished second in the Western Conference but will play the 4th place Wild instead of the 7th place (and much weaker) LA Kings.
Dave: WPG in 7. Winnipeg is very good, scary good. I like Minnesota too, and it stinks that one needs to lose. But I think Winnipeg’s depth is too much for Minnesota.
Pat: WPG in 6. Winnipeg is so fun and exciting and I want them to win the Cup, and also they have an infinitely better roster, the end.
Justin: WPG in 6. Man, Minnesota is like someone took all the boring the world and dumped it into one roster. There is not a single interesting player in the entire franchise. It’s like an American cheese sandwich on white bread with vanilla ice cream for dessert. Contrast that with Winnipeg, who are actually fun, and this one is a no brainer.
Chris: WPG in 6. Devan Dubnyk can still a couple of games for the Wild, but since Ryan Suter is out, the league’s most overrated coach (Bruce Boudreau) can’t fall from ahead like he normally does.
Becky: WPG in 5. Please see Justin’s response. I echo those sentiments 100%.
Los Angeles Kings vs. Vegas Golden Knights — the Battle over whose Twitter is more Extra
Rob: VGK in 5. Vegas gets its first taste of playoff hockey, and it should be fun. While I don’t think the Golden Knights are quite as good as their 109 points indicates, they should dispatch the Kings with relative ease.
Dave: LAK in 6. The Cinderella season ends for VGK. Thankfully, that means their God awful Twitter account is done for the year too.
Pat: VGK in 7. I think both of these teams are incredibly dumb and bad and I hate them, so honestly just kinda spitballing let’s say it’s seven games and the more annoying team loses.
Justin: VGK in 6. I’m sick of the Kings. They can go spend the rest of eternity in hockey purgatory for all I care. Vegas, on the other hand, while not good, are at least interesting and kinda fun. It’s all house money (see what I did there?) for them at this point, anyway. Go forth and spoil.
Chris: VGK in 7. THE GOLDEN KNIGHTS ARE NOT AN EXPANSION TEAM. Thanks to the gift of an expansion draft from Gary Bettman, and the free top line that Dale Tallon gave them, VGK was provided a deep and fast team with none of the salary cap issues other teams had to worry about. They were never going to be as bad as people thought, so while they’ve outplayed expectations, they’re still better than this run of the mill kings team.
Becky: LAK in 6. It’s all fun and games til you get to the playoffs. Think this Vegas team is super talented, and has experience, but I’m just not buying into it this season. Thankfully, one of their Twitter accounts will temporarily die soon.
Rob: SJS in 6. For some reason, this series is just very blah to me. I don’t have much insight to offer, either. I’m throwing an imaginary dart while blindfolded here and saying Sharks in 6.
Dave: SJS in 6. I don’t like any teams in California, I’ve come to realize. But hey, Joe Thornton is someone you can root for, right? I like SJS to not choke this time around.
Pat: SJS in 6. I’m very much down for Joe Thornton to land a Cup before retiring, and I’m also always here for “so and so went to such and such team because they wanted to win a championship but then didn’t” stuff (see, for example, Philippe Coutinho on this very day April 10th the year of our Lord 2018) so to see Jumbo lift that silver Stanley while his BFF Patrick Marleau watches after a round of golf with the rest of the Leafs would be especially satisfying.
Justin: SJS in 7. They both can’t lose in the first round, right? Martin Jones is wildly mediocre and Corey Perry is a despicable human being. Actually, you know what? I could probably go back and forth on both of their entire rosters like this. Except Brent Burns and John Gibson. They are awesome. Flipping a coin for this one.
Chris: ANA in 6. The Ducks might have won a cup had John Gibson started over Freddy Anderson in the 2015 WCF, but now is his real coming out party. With the Ducks finally healthy again, they may be a dark horse (or lose in 5. who knows?)
Becky: ANA in 6. Really I’m just here for the emo Logan Couture post-loss tweets.
Share your picks and breakdowns in the comments, and enjoy yourselves tonight!"Stress Free Playoffs: Round One Staff Preview",