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On the heels of Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau being fired on Friday morning, comes the draft-delayed second round preview of the Stanley Cup playoffs that I in no way amended after Friday night’s results. I went 6-8 with my opening round predictions, so let’s see if I can keep the toonies rolling here.
Now, most Canadians at this point have abandoned watching the playoffs in favour of thawing out the barbecue equipment in advance of the May 2-4 weekend.
That’s expected. What’s surprising is that the NHL has tried to appeal to Canadians by having four series that, on paper look the equivalent of tan, taupe, beige and maple syrup. Our national flavours! So, let’s dig in.
Eastern Conference: (* – if necessary)
Pittsburgh vs. Washington (Th, Sat, M, W, Sat*, Tu*, Th*)
- This series should be the best of the four, much like maple syrup is the best of the brown colour spectrum. High powered offence; semi-competent defence; and tacticians for coaches. The dividing factor is going to be in net. Braden Holtby for Washington is a known commodity. Pittsburgh is still waiting for Marc-Andre Fleury to stop seeing visions of Bonhomme every time he closes his eyes. If Murray and the other kid can’t keep up, it’s going to go Washington’s way pretty quickly. Washington in 6
NY Islanders vs. Tampa Bay (W, Sat, Tu, F, Sun*, Tu*, Th*)
- Well, now we enter the bland colour wheel. This is the series Gary Bettman is hoping goes his way. He’s already lost the Rangers, Blackhawks and Kings; at least the Isles can claim to be a New York market for TV purposes. If he loses them, there’ll be pretty much no East Coast interest outside of DC. That’ll do wonders for ad revenue and the salary cap next year. If Tampa were to get Stamkos back, they might’ve had a chance, but they don’t have enough lines, and Griess is having one of those playoff years NHL legends get written about. Islanders in 6
St. Louis vs. Dallas (F, Sun, Tu, Th, Sat*, M*, W*)
- This could be a good series, but could also be boring as hell. It all depends on which Dallas team shows up. If it’s the hurt, hit, and slow-down-the-game Stars, then prepare for a lot of 1-0 or 2-1 games. But if it’s the run & gun Stars, then it’s going to be fantastic, because that’s the only gear the Blues have. GOALS FOR EVERYONE! Deciding factor: Brian Elliot. The Moose is hot right now, and I think – like the Canucks in 2011 – once the Blues got the Hawks monkey off their back, they could be in for a magical run. Blues in 7
Nashville vs. San Jose (F, Sun, Tu, Th, Sat*, M*, Th*)
- I see no redeeming value in watching this series, other than the fact that I will be in Nashville in time for Game 6, so you bet your ass I’ll be looking for a ticket if it gets that far. But, it won’t, much to Covalent Blonde’s relief. Sharks in 5
At this point, Gary Bettman’s best hope for ratings is a Blues – Islanders or Blues – Capitals final. However, what would kill him would be Tampa – Nashville. Decisions, decisions…
Oh – the NHL Draft Lottery is Saturday night. All 7 Canadian teams are in it, looking to draft a Swiss kid from America – Auston Matthews – number 1. Toronto has a 20% chance of getting the first pick, which means they will probably won’t because God and Canada (outside the 416) hates the Leafs – that’s the only national sport we have left at this point.