In my last article I broke down each team that had made the playoffs and went through all of the matchups in both conferences. I went 5 out of 8 in my predictions due to the fact that I had Montreal, Chicago, and Boston winning their series’. Round two starts on Wednesday where eight teams will battle to advance to the conference final. Not one series in the first round was pushed to seven games and there were two sweeps. Including a huge upset of the Nashville Predators taking down the Western Conference leading Chicago Blackhawks.
In the Nashville vs. Chicago series not many people would have expected Nashville to beat Chicago, nevertheless sweep them. Pekka Rinne was dominant and the Blackhawks looked nothing but flat. Nashville’s defense shut down Chicago holding them to 3 goals in 4 games. Nashville mounted an excellent comeback in game 3 to put a stranglehold on Chicago after being down 2-0 heading into the 3rd. I had originally had Chicago going all the way to the final once again but the Predators proved they are here to play.
Minnesota and St. Louis was very surprising to me. I had picked the Blues to win in 7, but based on their play throughout the series Minnesota probably should have swept them. Jake Allen was spectacular for St. Louis posting a .956% save percentage allowing only 8 goals in 5 games. Minnesota dominated the Blues in the possession/shot attempts category but were unable to solve Allen who was a big question mark heading into the series.
Anaheim swept Calgary in what was also very surprising to me. Calgary’s top line of Gaudreau, Monahan, and Ferland looked fantastic but Brian Elliott was shockingly bad along with below average play from Dougie Hamilton. The Flames are a better team than they showed but need to improve their goaltending this offseason. Shea Theodore was excellent for the Ducks on the blue line.
Edmonton managed to defeat the reigning Western Conference champs in the San Jose Sharks in just 6 games. Connor McDavid was surprisingly quiet for the Oilers. Cam Talbot was great for Edmonton (besides game 4) as he still posted a .921% after the 7-0 game. Oscar Klefbom had two key goals for Edmonton on their blue line and played great alongside Adam Larsson.
In the Eastern Conference I had Montreal beating New York as I thought Carey Price would be too much for the Rangers. I was wrong as New York won in 6 games. This series was very boring to me as it was low scoring and it had little star power outside of the goaltenders. I thought Max Pacioretty played very well for Montreal despite not getting a point.
Ottawa vs. Boston was my favorite series to watch outside of the Caps and Leafs. I was blown away by the play of Erik Karlsson as he was all over the ice making plays for Ottawa. Craig Anderson was strong in net for the Sens. Bobby Ryan was also very good scoring clutch goals for Ottawa after having a tough season. David Pastrnak and Patrice Bergeron are always fun to watch for Boston. I thought the games in this series were very even despite only going 6 games.
Washington vs. Toronto was totally unexpected as a Leafs fan. I was blown away by the Leafs ability to hang with Washington in all six games as five of them went to overtime. Toronto clawed back from being down 4-1 in the first period to only end up losing the game 5-4. TJ Oshie was very impressive to me on the Washington side as he led his team in scoring. It was a very even goaltender battle too as Holtby looked human and Andersen gave the Leafs the chance to win each night.
Pittsburgh vs. Columbus was over too quickly. I wanted that series to get uglier than the stupid Matt Calvert play. Pittsburgh handled the Blue Jackets so easily as Malkin, Crosby, Kessel, and Guentzel absolutely lit it up. Marc-Andre Fluery was also great as the backup for the injured Matt Murray. Sergei Bobrovsky turned into a pumpkin after having a Vezina quality season which led to the Blue Jackets defeat.