And so continues the best tournament currently happening in sport right now — the NHL Playoffs
Ottawa Senators (A2) vs. New York Rangers (WC1)
(Round 1 results: Ottawa defeated Boston in 6 games / New York defeated Montreal in 6 games)
The surprising and emotional season for the Senators continues after eliminating an absolutely decimated Boston team. Being driven by the heart-touching story of goaltender Craig Anderson’s wife, the Senators have been a great and surprising story of the season. The Rangers are a team who were expected to be in the postseason, and have followed expectations. They ousted a Montreal team who gave them fits for six games. So, what wins out here? Experience or emotion?
I will take experience, but barely.
-New York Rangers in 7
Washington Capitals (M1) vs. Pittsburgh Penguins (M2)
(Round 1 results: Washington defeated Toronto in 6 games / Pittsburgh defeated Columbus in 5 games)
This is THE matchup everyone has been waiting for, talking about, etc. The rematch of last year’s (and other seasons’) classics between these two hated rivals. The NHL’s two biggest stars meet on the brightest (or at least the brightest that the league’s formatting allows) stage. Washington completed a surprisingly tough match-up with Toronto with an OT win in game 6 Sunday, this series which saw 5 out of 6 games go into OT. Pittsburgh has been waiting in the wings after defeating Columbus last week in 5 games. We all know the story line in this one: Ovechkin versus Crosby. Penguins success versus Capitals failures. Can the Capitals FINALLY erase the demons of years past?
The Penguins are beat up, but playing very well…the Capitals are built to win, and built to win now. This will be the year the Caps finally put this flightless fowl down.
-Washington Capitals in 6
St. Louis Blues (C3) vs. Nashville Predators (WC2)
(Round 1 results: St. Louis defeated Minnesota in 5 games / Nashville swept Chicago in 4 games)
Was there a more surprising result in round 1 than Nashville sweeping the Blackhawks? Pekka Rinne was brilliant in net for the Preds only surrendering just 3 goals in 4 games. On the other side, Jake Allen was spectacular for the Blues, who sent a Bruce Boudreau team packing early from the postseason once again. This may be one of the most exciting series to watch in all the playoffs. Two teams who, at times, underachieved in the regular season are now clicking on all cylinders. I would love to say that the experience of the Blues would carry them to victory, but Nashville has proven that being the “new guy to the party” doesn’t faze them in any way. I still think the Blues are the better team, but this one is almost impossible to pick.
-St. Louis Blues in 7
Anaheim Ducks (P1) vs. Edmonton Oilers (P2)
(Round 1 results: Anaheim swept Calgary in 4 games / Edmonton defeated San Jose in 6 games)
-Anaheim cruised to a sweep of Calgary in round 1, in a series which the Ducks looked relatively untested at all. The youthful Oilers, finally cashing in on the numerous #1 overall picks in recent years fought adversity and the experience of the Sharks on route to the franchise’s first playoff series win in 11 years. The Ducks are a hard hitting, gritty team who will try to get under their opponent’s skin while Edmonton is playing with speed and skill that is almost unmatched in the rest of the Western Conference. I like the youth movement that’s happening right now in the West.
-Edmonton Oilers in 6