The reigning Stanley cup champion Pittsburgh penguins look to retain the cup and the title of champions and that road starts Wednesday night against a gritty Columbus team. Although the penguins seem to be limping into the playoffs, don’t think for a second that they are at any kind of disadvantage. They are a fast, skilled team that turns mistakes into goals. With Malkin making his return after being out the last month along with the return of speed demon Carl Hagelin, the penguins seem to have enough weapons to spread out across three lines. The only weakness in this team seems to be on the defense. Missing Kris Letang for the whole playoffs could be disastrous. Losing a veteran offensive defenseman who averages nearly 25 min p/g is a huge loss.
On the other side of the rink is Columbus, led by their brick wall of a goalie Sergei Bobvrosky. The rival to Sidney Crosby has to be Brandon Dubinsky. It’s no secret that there is no love lost between these two. Get used to seeing these two paired up all series long. John Tortorella is a coach who certainly knows how to get the most out of his guys and get in the opponents head. This series should have plenty of physicality and maybe even a fight here or there. Overall I really don’t see how Columbus can stay with Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh simply has too many weapons spread out over their lines and no matter who you have in net; they will find a way to score. Columbus will steal a game or two but I believe their luck will run out relatively early.
Penguins in 6.
The Boston bruins are always a fun team to watch in the playoffs. They’re “that” team that never say never. Ever since that unbelievable comeback in 2013, I gained a newfound respect for the Boston bruins. They have that “in your face” mentality which can wreak havoc on the opposition. This mentality starts with the leader in almost every category on the bruins, from goals to penalty minutes, Brad Marchand. Marchand is the X-factor in this series. If he can be his usual annoying self, he can dominate the game both physically and on the scoreboard. Hate him or love him, the guy is a game changer. Coming fresh off his suspension you bet he has a lot of built up anger and energy. If he uses this energy and takes stupid penalties, he’s only gonna hurt himself and the B’s chances of winning. Another area of concern for the bruins is losing stud defensemen, Torey Krug. Krug was seen on crutches this weekend after a “lower body injury”. Bruins signed Charlie McAvoy, a BU star defensemen, to an entry level contract to fill the void. There has been a lot of buzz around this kid so keep an eye out for him to make some noise.
The Senators have certainly got their hands full with this bruin’s team. Now I’m gonna throw a stat at you that you’re guaranteed to hear over the next week: “the senators are 4-0 this year against the bruins.” Some say it’s important some don’t. I’ll go as far to say I don’t think we will see the same result of the first 4 games of this series. The senators play slowed down, defensively sound hockey and that seemed to work in the regular season. They have a couple studs that can score and steal games with Erik Karlsson and Bobby Ryan. This is going to be a very good series and I see it going 7 games. Both goalies are playing well and these teams are pretty evenly matched up.
this is a toss up but I can’t see how a Boston team can lose this early on.
Bruins in 7.
This one should be relatively easy. Toronto is full of promise and young stars that are gonna be a force to be reckoned with…. Just not this year against the powerhouse formerly known as the Washington capitals. Washington simply put is the superior team in this series. Braden Holtby hasn’t had the best luck over the years in the playoffs, but you gotta root for the guy. He is the best goalie this year putting up a 42-13-6 record with 9 shutouts. You HAVE TO feel bad for him. Combine a goalie like Holtby with players like Alex Ovechkin, TJ Oshie, Kevin Shattenkirk and Evgeni Kuznetsov I find it near impossible for the caps to lose this round.
The one thing the maple leafs have going for them, besides a handful of young guns is a coach who knows a thing or two about winning, Mike Babcock: “They’re not going to believe me and then it’s going to happen,” he said. I would probably listen to the guy who coached in 144 playoff games.
“No space. Zero. Battle for every inch of ice, from the opening faceoff to the end,”
“If you want to dip your toe into the water you’re going to find out it’s boiling. You might as well just jump in,” Babcock said. “Run down the dock and jump right in and don’t be putting your foot in the water, you might not get in.”
Nothing like a little inspiration from the coach to get the boys going.
Caps in 5
Montreal- New York
The rangers have been locked into the wild card 1 position for a decent amount of time now and the common argument is “can they turn on the switch and start playing meaningful hockey again?” we’ll find out this Wednesday. That’s a great question too, sitting pretty in that spot to try and get the easier road is always dangerous and can come back to bite them in the ass. Lundqvist struggles BAD against the Canadiens at the Bell Centre posting a 4-9-2 record with 3.8 GAA. yikes… The offense is there for the rangers, something that hasn’t always been there over the years. The defense? Not so much. That’s what, as a fan, worries me the most. It’s so frustrating watching this defense just stand there and watch people skate by and score goals. I’m getting a headache just thinking about it.
Carey Price is equally as good as Braden Holtby, if not better. You HAVE to be worried if you’re a ranger fan having to go against a healthy price. Let’s face it, the rangers got lucky two years ago when Price was injured in game 1 of the 2014 series. Assuming no freak accidents happen, it should be a real duel between these teams.
The key is special teams. The rangers are HORRENDOUS on the PK.
As much as it pains me to say it.
Canadiens in 6