The 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs are shaping out to be exciting as usual. Five of seven Canadian teams made it back to the playoffs after none made it in 2016. Pittsburgh is looking to repeat as champs as they face Columbus in the first round for the second time in three years. Chicago takes on Nashville as they look to continue their reputation for winning the cup every other year. Washington is looking to end their playoff failures beginning with the young and surprising Maple Leafs in their first matchup. Edmonton clinched their first playoff berth since going to the cup final in 2006 and will face off against San Jose who will be looking to repeat as Western Conference champs once again. Mike Yeo is facing the team that fired him last season as head coach of the Blues as Bruce Boudreau looks to lead the Wild past the second round. Randy Carlyle will look to bring the Ducks back to the promised land like he did in 2007 against the young Calgary Flames. Montreal and New York have not liked each other since Chris Krieder took out Carey Price in 2015. Finally Boston looks to defeat the banged up Ottawa Senators as they fired Claude Julien back in February.
In the Western Conference I have Chicago defeating Nashville in 6 games. Pekka Rinne is very inconsistent in the past three to four years and has not been excellent in the playoffs. Nashville’s d-corps is one of the best in the league with Subban, Josi, Ekholm, and Ellis in their top four. Their offense has come into its own with rising stars like Viktor Arvidsson and veterans like Mike Fisher, Filip Forsberg, Ryan Johansen, and Colin Wilson. Rinne is too much of a liability to lead Nashville to victory over the experienced and Western Conference Champion Blackhawks.
Minnesota has not been very good lately posting a 4-6-0 record to end the season. Devan Dubnyk has also trailed off for Minnesota. Jake Allen will be a big question mark for St. Louis without the comfort of having Brian Elliott to back him up. St. Louis is 8-2-0 heading into the playoffs as they had a strong finish to the season. I am giving this series to the Blues in 7 games.
Anaheim is taking on the Calgary Flames who have had their fair share of goaltending issues. Their bottom 6 is also very weak on both offense and defense. If Anaheim can do a good job of shutting down the top 2 Calgary lines they should cruise to a victory in 6 games.
Edmonton and San Jose are facing off as Edmonton makes their first playoff appearance in 10 years. Connor McDavid has been the Edmonton Oilers key to success along with Cam Talbot. The Oilers are also red hot winning 8 of their last 10 games as the Sharks have won 4 of their last 10. Im giving this series to the Oilers in 7 games due to the fact that Martin Jones has the talent to keep the Sharks in games and Marc Edouard Vlassic has the ability to shut down the oppositions top lines.
In the Eastern Conference Montreal is taking on New York. Montreal has been the hottest team in the Eastern Conference since the trade deadline after being criticized for making bad moves. Jordie Benn has been a great add to the Montreal blue line. Dwight King has also been a good add to Montreal as a forward. Carey Price and Henrik Lundqvist will be the keys to their teams’ success. It will be a very low scoring series and is very hard to predict. I chose Montreal in 7 games.
Boston and Ottawa are playing as Ottawa is limping into the playoffs with injuries. Erik Karlsson is banged up for Ottawa as is Marc Methot, two of their top 4 defenseman. Craig Anderson has the ability to steal playoff games as he has always been excellent in them. Boston has added defenseman Charlie McAvoy who was excellent at Boston College and for the USA in the World Juniors. Boston has quite a bit of playoff experience compared to Ottawa and I will pick the Bruins to win in 6 games.
Washington is taking on Toronto after a close finish for the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. Washington has alot to lose this year as they have many UFA’s to deal with this offseason along with RFA’s and their window to win is closing. They are going to have alot of pressure on them even against the young Leafs who were not expected to be here. They are playing with house money and have essentially nothing to lose. Despite that Washington should handle Toronto easily in 5 games.
Lastly we have Columbus and Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh is without Kris Letang once again but has the best 1, 2 punch in net with Marc-Andre Fluery and Matt Murray. Not to mention Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, or Phil Kessel. Columbus has dropped off a bit since their hot start but Bobrovsky has easily made himself the Vezina winner. He will be able to steal a few games for the Blue Jackets but it will not be enough to contain the Penguins as I have Pittsburgh winning in 7 games.