What’s the ceiling for this Winnipeg Jets team?
For this year, I think they could not only make it to the playoffs, but they could do some damage once they get to the big dance.
For this year, I think they could not only make it to the playoffs, but they could do some damage once they get to the big dance.
We’re now in the second week of NHL free agency and one of the greatest players to ever play the game is still available: Jaromir Jagr. He is coming off a 46-point season, whilst playing all 82 games for the first time since 2014 when he was with the New Jersey Devils.
The Florida Panthers announced that they do not want to bring Jagr back to the organization, and according to Jagr, neither does any other organization.
Despite the apparent lack of interest, Jagr is no rookie when it comes to moving teams. Since returning to the NHL, after three years in the KHL, the 45-year-old has played for five different teams in six years.
Regardless of his age, Jagr’s numbers indicate one thing: he still knows how to score points.
Jagr has totaled 159 points in his last three seasons with both New Jersey and Florida – more points in fewer games than Patrick Marleau (151), who just signed a three-year $18M contract with Toronto.
Last Tuesday, another top free agent, Alex Radulov, just went off the board to one of Jagr’s former teams, the Dallas Stars. Radulov signed a deal worth $31.25M, $6.25M per year, over the next five years. In 2017 against even strength opponents, Radulov scored 31 points (goals, 23 assists) whilst Jagr scored 33 points (eight goals, 25 assists).
Numbers don’t lie. Scoring wise, Jagr can still compete with the top free agents on this year’s market yet he is still unsigned. Take away the age and your team will be getting a scoring winger, which plenty of NHL teams need.
Jagr has proven year after year that age will not define him. People can complain about his speed as much as they want, but if he keeps scoring points does it really matter?
With the list of free agents getting smaller each day, the Czech is becoming the top free agent available.
Jagr is obviously in search for another Stanley Cup ring to add to his collection, however, a team in the lower half of the standings should show interest in him as a mentor. A team like the Arizona Coyotes could be one of those teams. During his time in Florida, Jagr was a major part of the success the Panthers experienced from both Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau. The Coyotes are in a similar stage of their rebuild much like the Panthers were. The future Hall of Famer could do the same in Arizona but this time with the likes of Dylan Strome, Maxi Domi, Clayton Keller. The list of young talent is really endless in the Copper State. As previously mentioned, Jagr is in pursuit of a Stanley Cup ring, however, he would be waiting a long time in Arizona for that ring, making an Arizona unlikely destination. On the other hand, most old people eventually move to Arizona later in life so why wait till then?
Until the last few days, the Dallas Stars would’ve been a great destination for the 45-year-old. Over the summer, GM Jim Nill has made some huge moves in order to not only get his team back in the playoffs but to go all the way. Trading for Ben Bishop and signing two of the biggest names on the free-agent market, Martin Hanzel and Alex Radulov, would attract any player at the back end of their career. The Stars did lose offense at the trade deadline in Patrick Eaves, and then Patrick Sharp, Ales Hemsky, and Jiri Hudler to free agency. Jagr seems like a great fit. However, with the Stars resigning both Radek Faska and Brett Ritchie it now leaves no room for the future Hall of Famer.
Another talked about destination for him is in Western Canada with the Edmonton Oilers or Calgary Flames. The Flames seem like the more likely stop in this situation, now that the Oilers have signed Jussi Jokinen. Edmonton will likely want to give Jesse Puljajarvi another chance in Alberta’s capital after spending the second half of the season in Bakersfield.
Now as for the Flames they’ve been busy bringing in defense, resigning Mark Stone, signing Travis Hamonic, and trading for Mike Smith. Last season, the Flames ranked in the lower half of the league in goals for, meaning it is probably time for them to invest in some offense. Jagr could slide perfectly on the top line complementing Calgary’s two stars Monahan and Gaudreau.
Over in the East, the Columbus Blue Jackets emerged last season as one of the best teams in the NHL. On draft day, they bolstered their offense with the addition of Artemi Panarin in exchange for Brandon Saad. Their only real loss this off season has been Sam Gagner who left to join the Vancouver Canucks. Jagr could easily come in and fill the void left by Gagner: he’s a much better player. They are a young team on the rise with only one player over the age of 30 on the offensive side of the puck, Brandon Dubinsky. With the current Vezina winner and one of the best defensive cores in the league, Columbus is ready to go on a deep playoff run and win the cup, just what Jagr wants.
Other teams that could be potential new homes for Jagr are the Montreal Canadiens who are looking for more offense, or the Carolina Hurricanes who want to take that next step.
Personally, I would love to see Jagr back in the black and white of the Pittsburgh Penguins. The right side of their offense may be crowded with Phil Kessel, Patric Hornqvist, and Bryan Rust but that could work in Jagr’s favour. He won’t be forced to play in every game and with him being the age he is it may actually extend his career to 50 like he believes. Also, with the talent on the Penguins roster, he would have a great shot at hitting the 60 point mark, again. The Penguins have just won back-to-back cups, I wouldn’t put it past them to win it again and obviously, Jagr wants another shot before he hangs up the skates.
I could easily make a case for every team and why Jagr would be a good fit, but ultimately we won’t know what will work best until we see him skating next season with his new team.
Round one was really good. Round two got pretty close to living up to that hype. A couple of game sevens and the two best storylines in the playoffs (Nashville, Ottawa) continued onto the next round.
Here are 10 things I took from the four conference semi-final series:
Remember when Pittsburgh was almost relocated (I remember you Jim Balsillie) or when Chicago played games in front of a mainly empty arena. Bring some success into the picture and now you have two stable hockey markets.
Well, the same thing has happened to Nashville. They have a young, exciting team and are in a city that loves to party and rowdy. Watching the crowd erupt during their country music themed national anthems or seeing videos of fans partying in the streets has been one of my favourite parts of these playoffs.
The only thing more exciting than their fans has been their play on the ice, which brings me to my next point:
They have one of the most well-rounded d-men in the league, Roman Josi. Add the electrifying PK Subban who can move the puck up the ice like few others. Throw in Ryan Ellis, who has been contributing 5v5, on the powerplay and on the PK, and doing an incredible job with it. Mattias Ekholm doesn’t make many mistakes, just gives Peter Laviolette good, honest minutes. Matt Irwin was in the minors at one point this season, now he’s anchoring the 3rd pairing in the conference finals. It’s an incredible combination of raw ability mixed with everyone clicking into their best form at the same time.
A defense like that wins you games and can cover when Pekka Rinne has an off night (even though he hasn’t had one yet) but there’s another group of defenders that I can’t say the same about…
Teams can overcome not having a superstar forward (Ottawa, Nashville), and teams can be brought along by a hot goalie as well. But when you have a blueline that is as poor as the New York Rangers, it’s tough to have any success.
This is not a knack on Ryan McDonaugh, who was absolutely incredible in my eyes. But this is on the old and slow Dan Girardi and Marc Staal who is a shadow of his former self. This is on a management group and coaching staff who brought in Brendan Smith to try to fix a poor defensive group. They also refused to give more minutes to two of their more competent players, Brady Skjei played less than Staal and Girardi, while Nick Holden averaged 3 minutes less per game than Girardi.
Man, if you want an inspiring story, look no further than the Ottawa Senators. From Bryan Murray’s health to Craig Anderson and his wife Nicholle going through an un-imaginable time right now.
Then there’s Clarke MacArthur, who was really never supposed to play hockey again, never mind be scoring series-clinching goals in round one and making an impact late in the playoffs.
It’s an incredible reminder as to why someone like myself loves to watch sports. Sometimes the stars align and everything works out, and it’s amazing to see that happen to this Senator’s family.
The stories on the Senators have been great, but Erik Karlsson has been THE story on the ice. Averaging over 28 minutes a game, with more than a point a game, he had his coming out party in round two, which is weird to say about a player with multiple Norris trophies.
He’s a top 3 player in the World right now, and I have no doubt about that. We throw the term “generational” around a lot, but that sums up Karlsson. His commitment to defense, while still pushing the offensive pace the way he has this year is incredible.
A young core with two top ten scorers almost made the Conference Finals. In fact, they were two botched goalie interference calls away from being in the NHL’s final four.
Emerging defensemen like Klefbom, Nurse, and Benning only add to the white-hot future Edmonton has. They didn’t make it this year, but you’d be a fool to bet against them being in the big dance soon, and often.
Shea Theodore has been solid on the incredibly mobile Ducks defense, while up front, Rickard Rakell put up 30 goals this season and Jakob Silfverberg gave the Oilers fits during this past round. Which raises the expansion problem that the success of these three individuals will bring.
Silfverberg brings the classic power forward game, with a habit to fire the puck often. Rakell is just all around solid but has a knack for finishing plays. Theodore is a future top 4 defensemen, and one of them has to be traded, or be lost in the expansion draft. A good problem to have, but a problem none the less.
Take away their best d-man, give Crosby a rookie winger, take out their starting goalie… it doesn’t matter. The Penguins and Sidney Crosby are damn near impossible to win.
As much as it might be boring to watch a repeat champion and not have a young fresh team like Nashville win, witnessing the greatness that is Crosby (and Malkin and Fleury) is quite incredible.
Hardly needs any explaining. They call PK Subban for diving, which puzzled me. They miss calls late when Nick Bonino is given the phantom high stick from TJ Oshie. They blow goalie interference calls on the Oilers, which may have cost them the series.
The NHL Referees have a habit of giving respect to players who have been in the league a while, and this past round has taught me that is not the right way to do things.
Why have a rule book when it only applies to certain players, at certain points in the game, at certain times of the year. The game should be called the same way during game one in October, as it is in Game 7 of a playoff series. It’s sad that the officials became such a dominant story line, and it makes the NHL less pleasant to watch.
Things get going tonight between the Columbus Blue Jackets and Pittsburgh Penguins, and many think this one will end with the defending Cup champions advancing to round two.
Myself, on the other hand, I’m not so quick to jump to that conclusion. This Metro match-up should be one of the most entertaining out of the 8 first round series for a variety of reasons.
For one, it’s pure speed and skill against a roster of players who more or less rely on hard work. Thats not to say the Penguins dont work hard, or that the Blue Jackets done have any skill players (Atkinson, Werenski, Wennberg, Saad). But for the most part, these teams rely on two different styles of hockey to be successful and win hockey games.
The other thing, these two teams hate each other. Need proof, just youtube Dubinsky vs Sidney Crosby or go watch a highlight pack from any of their games this season. The players hate each other and the fans have built up quite a rivalry. This series will be fun to say the least.
Still, although some agree it will be close, most say it’s the Penguins series to lose, so I decided to take a look at how the Blue Jackets could pull this off and consequently win their first ever playoff series.
Tyler Yaremchuk: I don’t see a scenario the Maple Leafs outscore the Capitals, simply based on depth. I don’t see a scenario where Braden Holtby is outplayed by Frederik Andersen. I don’t see a scenario where a blue line that features Matt Hunwick and Roman Polak can outplay a team with Shattenkirk, Niskanen, Carlson (if healthy) and Orlov. This should be a sweep, so I’m not even going to complicate things.
Liam Horrobin: It’s fair to say that this is the most one-sided series out of all of them this post-season. The Maples Leafs have plenty of scoring on their side but the Caps can pretty much double that. We still don’t know what’s happening with Andersen too which will be a big fact. Overall, the Caps will just simply overpower the young leafs.
Taylor Paniccia: While it’s exciting times in the 6ix for the Maple Leafs and the hype around the kid phenom Auston
Matthews, this is the worst matchup for the Leafs to get involved in. While I believe the Leafs will be an offensive powerhouse in the near future I don’t see them keeping up to the big guns of the Capitals. From goaltending in Brayden Holtby to their sound defense core, to the deep forward roster, topped off with offensive horses such as Ovechkin and Backstrom, I believe that the Caps are the most well-rounded team in the NHL. The Capitals ceiling for cup potential is higher than ever in recent years and look for the President Trophy winners to blow away the Leafs quickly.
Brayden Engel: This is absolutely the best case scenario for the Leafs. They came into the regular season with no expectations and now enter the postseason with similar optimism. Getting to watch the best team in the league skate circles around them will really help keep their egos in check and show them just how far away they are from where they need to be. I think they’re incredibly outmatched but have the ability to outscore even the best team and give the Caps a bit of a scare before they wake up and pull away.
Josh Goodings: Poor Leafs fans. So close to having an easy ride to the second round against Ottawa, but fall one point short and have to cross over to the big bad Metro division and face the best team in the NHL. The Leafs are probably going to lose to Washington, who very well could win the Stanley Cup this year, but they should have no shame in that. What the Leafs did this year was amazing, going from 30th in the NHL in 15/16 to a playoff berth in 16/17, lead by three-star rookies in Auston Matthews, William Nylander, and Mitch Marner. The future is very bright for the Leafs, but I think they’re gonna have to wait another year to win their first playoff series since 2004.
Devin Horne: This Caps team is insanely good, like really, really good. Third overall for goals scored and first in goals against, by quite a gap too. The next closest team, Columbus let in 193 pucks this year while Washington only 177. That’s 2.15 goals against the Caps a game. Add to that Braden Holtby, Alex Ovechkin, and a deadline pickup in Kevin Shattenkirk, dude has 14 points in 19 games with Washington. I think this may be the year we see Ovie hoist, Lord Stanley. Leafs are pretty exciting, but they’re too young and too inexperienced. They’ll be a pretty exciting team this decade. Again, because of this awful playoff format, we’ll see the Caps and Pens in the second round, instead of the Eastern Conference Final. NHL fix this!
Tyler Yaremchuk: I’ve toss and turned on this series for a long time. The Blue Jackets are an incredibly difficult team to beat. They never stop checking and will out work all game if nothing else. If their offense can wake up, I have no problem taking them in six or seven. On the other hands, could I really bet against a team with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin? Even with a depleted defense, they’re so solid. This could really go either way, and these two teams hate each other, which will only add to the excitement of this first round matchup. One of the hardest predict, but I’m going with my heart on this one.
Liam Horrobin: It’s disappointing to see these two heavyweights going at it in the first-round but it is what it is. The Penguins have just lost Kris Letang which will be a huge loss for them and I believe could be a series decider. The Blue Jackets, with Bobrovsky between the pipes, have got all they need to take down the Pens. Rookie star Zach Werenski will also have to lead by example at the back end for the Jackets.
Taylor Paniccia: A season series won by the Blue Jackets this matchup is possibly the most tightly matched round one series. The Blue Jackets key to winning this series is their Vezina favoured goalie in Bobrovsky shutting the door and the all important shut-down matchup between Dubinsky and Crosby. Home-ice to me will be big in this one as well as special teams as both teams are good at home and on the special teams. Based purely on gut feeling and Stanley Cup defenders look for the Penguins to take down Lumbo in a long back and forth series.
Brayden Engel: After a white-hot streak in December, Torts’ Jackets have cooled off of late which is not something you want to hear about the team who’s about to take on Sidney Crosby and the defending Cup champs. While it’s hard to repeat these days, I don’t see the Pens having much difficulty with Columbus. Too much skill up and down the lineup, even with Letang out.
Josh Goodings: This is a very tight matchup between the 2nd and 3rd ranked teams in the East. Pittsburgh vs Columbus has become a heated rivalry ever since the two teams met in the playoffs in 2014. Columbus is now a very well rounded team with a great young defense core in front Sergei Bobrovsky, a soon to be two-time Vezina trophy winner, who I believe could be the key to Columbus winning this series. Pittsburgh also has a very good goaltender in Matt Murray, who was a big reason the Penguins won the cup last year, and I think he’ll hold his own in this goalie battle. The biggest difference in this series is that CBJ doesn’t have a Sidney Crosby, or an Evgeni Malkin. With those two healthy Pittsburgh is capable of beating anyone. The one red flag in Pittsburgh’s title defense is the injury of Kris Letang, that’s a massive blow to the Pens and could be their downfall if they meet Washington in the second round. Despite that, I still think they can get past Columbus without Letang.
Devin Horne: You can’t bet against Sidney Crosby and the Pens, last year’s Cup champs. Crosby and Malkin are just deadly, and who hasn’t loved this renaissance of Phil Kessel? Losing Kris Letang is a huge loss, but those three forwards alone have 70 plus points this year. Columbus will give them some trouble, especially with Bobrovsky between the pipes. Again, playoff experience is huge especially in the first round when teams haven’t had that first round victory to boost them. Cam Atkinson, Brandon Saad, and Alexander Wennberg just can’t match the Pens firepower.
Tyler Yaremchuk: Price vs Lundqvist? I take Price every day of the week. The only way this series goes to the Rangers is if Lundqvist steals it himself. The Rangers defense is awful, their offense lacks a scoring superstar, they simply aren’t built for a long run in my mind. The Habs have been up and down all season, but they at least have all the ingredients for a team ready to take a plunge into round two in my mind.
Liam Horrobin: Carey Price will be challenged in this series against a Rangers team who finished fourth in the NHL in goals. Despite that, the Rangers finished the season freezing cold losing seven of their last 10 games. With the Rangers recent form and Carey Price being the best goaltender in the world, I can see the Canadiens taking this one.
Taylor Paniccia: A matchup that can easily go both ways. As far as I’m concerned this can be a sweep by the Canadiens as Price purely dominates the declining New York Rangers or the Habs can pull out their inconsistent ways and get beaten in a long and fast series. The Habs swept the Rangers in the season series three straight. All eyes will be on the goaltending matchup that should most likely be won by Carey Price. Price has shutout the Rangers seven times in his career the most against any team and poses a 15-5-1 record against them lifetime. Both these teams have a very loud home-ice advantage but look for the Bell Centre to be a little bit louder with a Canadiens series win.
Brayden Engel: I see most of us feel the same way about this series and it’s tough to disagree. Price is the best in the world and has an insane record in elimination games which means he can turn it on when it counts. He’s carried this team before and this won’t be any different.
Josh Goodings: This is a pretty close matchup between two similar teams. Both the Rangers and Habs are pretty average teams that are held up by world-class goaltenders, and it will likely come down to the goalie matchup. That matchup isn’t nearly as close as it was the last time these teams met in the playoffs in 2014. Despite having a few rough months this season, Carey Price is still one of, if not the best goalie(s) in the world, and is capable of winning this series largely by himself. Lundqvist, on the other hand, seems to be falling off at the age of 35, posting a .910 SV% this season, the lowest of his career. This might be because the Rangers defense is not nearly as good as it was when they won the President’s trophy in 14/15. Although they’re pretty close, I’d say the Habs are the better team and have the better goalie. They also swept the season series 3-0. So as long as Chris Kreider doesn’t take out Price again, the Habs should be fine.
Devin Horne: The Rangers looked pretty great earlier this season, but the holes in their defensive core are pretty glaring now. I don’t think Hank alone can bring them a victory here, his GAA and save percentage both slipped a bit this season. Habs have been pretty good this year, Carey Price is back to his usual self and the addition of Alexander Radulov has been a great pick up.
Tyler Yaremchuk: Two teams being thrown around by injuries to end the season. Two teams who have struggled with inconsistency all season. This is as much of a toss up as any other series. In the end, I like the Senators to take it. It’s incredibly close and will likely come down to one goal in game six or seven. Boston drives possession and creates chances better than Ottawa, and if they can keep things at 5v5 they should have the edge.
Liam Horrobin: I can’t wait to watch this series, said nobody ever. Both sides are rigged with injuries to important players and don’t have too many superstars. This series will not be one to remember in the 2017 Stanley Cup playoffs, however, we’ve still got to give a prediction. In my eyes, Brad Marchand will help the Bruins come out on top over the Ottawa Senators.
Taylor Paniccia: The Ottawa Senators are the only team in the post-season with a negative goal differential. Weird. But this is a good first round matchup for them as they swept the season series four games straight as this could be a big mental boost for them. Just based on season series I have the Senators taking down the Bruins but making a quick second round exit.
Brayden Engel: This is must miss TV. These are the two worst teams in the playoffs as far as I’m concerned with the Sens being riddled with injuries and the Bruins being old and dirty. That said, it will likely be a tightly contested series with a lot of variables. Karlsson has to play every game for the Sens to have a chance but that will be for naught if Anderson can’t find his game. In the end, I’m going to err on the side of experience in Rask, Bergeron, and Marchand.
Josh Goodings: The Senators are the worst team in the playoffs this year. They’re the only team in the playoffs with a negative goal differential, and if they didn’t have Erik Karlsson they’d have a pretty good shot at drafting Nolan Patrick this summer. Despite being swept in the season series by Ottawa, Boston is the better team and should be moving on to the second round.
Devin Horne: Both teams suffered from injuries and inconsistency this year, and both nearly limped into the postseason. Ottawa does not generate enough offence, they’re the worst offensive team to make the postseason. The Bruins power play was seventh best this year, and they finished the season with the league’s best penalty kill. Also, I love Brad Marchand, a pest who also finished sixth in league scoring. That most recent incidents was pretty disgusting though.
We’re officially “deep” into the Stanley Cup Playoffs and that means the question of “Who are you cheering for to win The Cup?’ is being thrown around more and more.
BTI back at it again, this time predicting round two of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Washington Capitals (1) vs Pittsburgh Penguins (2)
Tyler Yaremchuk: This one is going to be so tight. It’ll go the distance (6-7 games) and I really like both of these teams, whoever can escape here is my pick to win the cup. Holtby has been a monster in the playoffs and the Capitals have better offense in my mind. This Caps team also plays much better when the games get close, their Goals For % is 57.1% when the games are close. Ill take the Capitals in 7.
Taylor Paniccia: Sit back and sort of relax? This series is going deep. Crosby, Malkin, Kessel, hell even depth players for Pittsburgh are chipping in. Pittsburgh’s offense can’t be tamed and it won’t slow down this series. Washington had troubles against a weak Philadelphia offence and the Pittsburgh Penguins will now expose Washington’s lack of scoring from round 1. You can argue goaltending for the Washington Capitals but it doesn’t seem like Pittsburgh’s goaltending has blemished. Pittsburgh in 7!
Josh Goodings: This series is very hard to predict, but I’m confident that it very well might be the best series of the playoffs. I agree with Tyler, whoever takes this series will be my pick to take it all. The Pens have been on another level for months now, and looked amazing taking out the Rangers in 5, but the Caps have been at the top of the standings all year long for a reason. Each team has plenty of stars up front, Crosby-Malkin-Kessel, Ovi-Backstrom-Kuznetsov, but in terms of overall forward depth I like the Caps. Kris Letang is the best defenceman in the series, but once again I think the Caps take the edge in overall defence depth. Although they’re facing some of the best offensive players in the game, I think both Murray and Holtby will be impressive in this series, but I don’t think the rookie will outshine the soon to be Vezina winner. I’d love to see the Pens move on, but this is the Caps year, it’s their time. Capitals in 7.
Niti Krasniqi: It’s safe to predict it’ll be a long series (Can you imagine a sweep? That would be something). Even with Crosby, Malkin and Kessel I can see Holbty standing his ground. Over the past 2 playoff campaigns Holbty is sporting a .950 SV%. We did see that Washington had some trouble scoring against the Flyers, but, I think that will turn around. They’re facing Matt Murray, and Washington has enough fire power to rattle the rookie. Though, even if it was Fleury in net, I don’t think I would feel any different given Fleury’s history. I have Capitals in 7.
Consensus Pick: Capitals
Tampa Bay Lightning (6) vs New York Islanders (5)
Tyler Yaremchuk: On paper, this should be the Lightning easily. If Ben Bishop can play like the Vezina Finalist he is then Tampa should be going to their second straight Conference Finals. But it’s never that simple. Tavares and Greiss are giving the Islanders a lot of hope. If they can get a few players to contribute some secondary scoring (Lee, Nelson, Nielsen) then they could take this series. Although the Islanders finished higher in the standings, it will still be an upset if they win and I like upsets. Islanders in 6.
Taylor Paniccia: Tampa Bay’s roster is deeper and more experienced and you can’t leave out the fact that Greiss is going up against a Vezina finalist in Ben Bishop. While the Islanders did prove me wrong in round 1 it was a very tight series not very many mistakes were made. Look for this series to be a little more offensively open than the Islanders 1st round and Tampa will run away with their better transition game and high powered scoring offense. Tampa in 7.
Josh Goodings: This series shouldn’t be a problem for the Lighting, they have better forward depth, better defence, and a Vezina candidate between the pipes. Even without Steven Stamkos they’re the better team. But not so fast, John Tavares and Thomas Greiss were amazing in the first round and carried that over into Game 1 of this series, giving the Isles a 1-0 series lead and taking away home ice advantage from the Lightning. I still think the Bolts are the better team and will win this series but don’t count the Isles out. Tampa in 7.
Niti Krasniqi: Tampa Bay may be missing their best player, but, they’re still a deeper team with Vezina candidate goaltending, backed up by a very solid Vasilevskiy. The Islanders deserve more credit than they’re getting from the hockey world, but, they were outplayed a lot of the time during their first round match-up against the Panthers. However, John Tavares was outstanding for them in the first round and if he can keep it up this could be a long series. I’ll take Lightning in 6.
Consensus pick: Tampa
Dallas Stars (1) vs St. Louis Blues (2)
Tyler Yaremchuk: Dallas proved me wrong in round one, I dont think they can do it again against a much better St. Louis team. Elliot is too hot and they’re getting contributions from all parts of their lineup. A Seguin return may spark something but I don’t think it will be enough. Blues in 6.
Taylor Paniccia: Dallas simply can not fall asleep like they did at times against the Minnesota Wild. They are going up against a much better St. Louis team. Based on goaltending and how good Elliot has been I have the Blues taking this one quickly. Blues in 5.
Josh Goodings: The Blues biggest challenge in the west were the Chicago Blackhawks, and they conquered them. I think by beating the Hawks they proved they’re the top team in the Western conference, and I think it’s easy sailing to the west finals. Dallas did look impressive against Minnesota… at times, but that just won’t be enough to beat the Blues. Throw in a Tyler Seguin injury and a very hot Brian Elliot and I think this is an easy series for St.Louis. Blues in 5.
Niti Krasniqi: One of these teams is better all around than the other. Though, 3 of their 5 regular season matchup’s needed OT. The other 2 were 3-0 victories for each side. I can see the Dallas Stars putting up a fight and dragging this one out longer than they probably should. Stars obviously miss Tyler Seguin but his production in the post season is pretty poor in comparison to his regular season stats. (0.83 PPG vs. 0.42 PPG) – almost slashed in half. At the end of the day I don’t think Seguin’s absence will be the deciding factor in this series. Blues have the better team. Blues in 7.
Consensus pick: Blues
San Jose Sharks (6) vs Nashville Predators (7)
Tyler Yaremchuk: A battle of two strong possesion teams (both top 10 in CF%) and whoever can take this series is who I will be rooting for to win the Cup. Nashville played very well against Anaheim in round one, but I still look at that series as Anaheim loosing not Nashville winning. Rinne has been spectacular and Smashville’s defense is the best in the league, but this is San Jose’s year, I think beating the Kings gives this team so much confidence/momentum. Sharks in 5.
Taylor Paniccia: Wow did Nashville shock me. While they played well and shut down the Anaheim ducks they will not do that against a way heavier offense in the San Jose Sharks. The Sharks are high as ever coming off that big series win against the LA Kings and will take this series because Nashville will not be able to keep up with their scoring. Sharks in 6.
Josh Goodings: This will be an interesting series, both teams coming off of first round upsets looking to prove they’re not a one and done team. The Sharks finally got their redemption with the Kings, looking dominant and finishing them in 5 games. The Preds were up and down in their series with the Ducks, losing games 3, 4, and 5 in a row, but still taking the series in 7. I think these two teams match up quite evenly, but the likes of Pavelski, Thornton, Couture, and Marleau, will be too much for the Preds to handle. Sharks in 6.
Niti Krasniqi: Sharks have more ability on the offensive side of the game and I think they’re good enough defensively to top the Predators. Although Pekka Rinne had a very good first round, he’s been very unlike himself this season so it’s tough to predict which Pekka we will see this series. These two teams are Corsi Kings, but, the Sharks’ goal differential was +31, whereas the Preds was only +13. I think Jones is good enough to help them win this series, if not, they’ve got Reimer waiting. I have the Sharks in 6.
Consensus pick: Sharks
The brackets are filled and the most exciting time of the year is just around the corner. The first round of the playoffs, where you get 4 hard hitting, fast paced games every night. The match-ups this year are all very intriguing, so here are the four guys from BTI to take you a little bit deeper and give you their predictions.
(ranking are based on where they are in conference standings)
Tyler Yaremchuk: Washington might have a history of choking, but this should be a series they walk through. It concerns me that Washington hasn’t had a must win game all year and Philly has been essentially playing playoff hockey for months now. Washington is just too deep, have a great goalie as well as one of the best coaches in the game. Washington in 5.
Taylor Paniccia: Out of the three teams that were battling for those last two spots in the Eastern Conference race I believe the Capitals got the toughest matchup in the Flyers. That been said I don’t think the Flyers can beat a well-rounded Presidents Trophy team in the Capitals. Holtby is at a level no other goalie has touched this season and the Capitals offence is just too overpowered. Capitals in 5 games.
Josh Goodings: Washington in 5
Niti Krasniqi: Washington Capitals in 6.
BTI PREDICTS: Capitals in 5 is the consensus.
Tyler Yaremchuk: This one is the least interesting out of all of the playoff series in my mind. I like Tampa Bay’s goaltending and back end more, even without Stralman. Drouin will also play a huge role in this series, if he shows up and plays well then it gives Tampa some really good secondary scoring. The Lightning had a better GA/60 in the regular season, while the Wings have a healthier forward group. Its Tampa’s goaltending vs Detroit’s offense in my opinion. I’ll take Tampa Bay to win this one is 7 seven games.
Taylor Paniccia: The Detroit Red Wings will expose a beat up Tampa Bay team and take them down in the first round even though they just barely squeaked in to keep the longest playoff streak record alive at 25 years. This is also Datsyuk’s going away party which means fortune could be in their favour. Wings in 7 games.
Josh Goodings: Tampa Bay in 6.
Niti Krasniqi: Tampa Bay in 5.
BTI PREDICTS: Tampa in 6 is our decision on this one.
Tyler Yaremchuk: Pittsburgh is hot. That second line of Hagelin-Bonino-Kessel has been one of the best lines in hockey as of late. I really like the Rangers forward group, but with no McDonough their defense is suspect. Lundqvist could steal this thing, but word is Fleury could be ready for game 1 so goaltending should not be heavily favoured to either team. This really should be one of the most entertaining series from. These teams have both had really good regular seasons and know how to score goals. They rank 3/4 in GF% at 5v5. But in terms of possession the advantage goes to the Pens and it isn’t even close. Pittsburgh is top 3 in both SF% as well as CF%. Pittsburgh has that ability to dominate games and I don’t see that with the Rangers. Penguins in 6.
Taylor Paniccia: A great first round Eastern Conference matchup. The Penguins are hotter than ever and so is Sidney Crosby and when Sidney Crosby is hot the rest of the team feeds off it and produces as well. With great depth players the Pittsburgh Penguins will knock out a big, fast, New York Rangers hockey club in the first round. Penguins in 6 games.
Josh Goodings: Pittsburgh in 7
Niti Krasniqi: Fleury is concussed and a little shaky. Lundqvist could steal this one even though Pittsburgh has a better team. Rangers in 7.
BTI PREDICTS: We can’t agree here either, but Pittsburgh in 7 is our democratic choice.
Tyler Yaremchuk: No Halak, a beat up forward group and Hamonic isnt 100%. Florida is young and should have a lot of energy going into this series. Luongo has been great all season and Gerard Gallant has this team going every night. Florida has one of the easiest paths to the Eastern Conference Finals and they really deserve to be there. The Panthers start their run with a 4 game sweep of the Isles.
Taylor Paniccia: The Florida Panthers have a veteran netminder in Roberto Luongo who has been there done that. While I think the Florida Panthers fluked through most of the season I like this matchup for them against a weak Islanders roster. With Halak out look for the Islanders to be out as well. Panthers in 6 games.
Josh Goodings: Panthers in 7.
Niti Krasniqi: Florida in 7.
BTI PREDICTS: Panthers in 6 games in our choice.
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