Yesterday at 1:45 PM the National Hockey League’s (NHL) regular season ended, thus setting the stage for one of the most exciting sporting events of the year: the NHL Playoffs.
This year’s playoff matchups are chocked full of great first round matchups and are expected to live up to the historic hype surrounding the event. Below are a list of upcoming must see matches:
First round matchups to watch:
- Chicago v. St. Louis- The Blues and Hawks finished the regular season neck and neck. These two teams met five times over the course of the regular season. The Blues won the majority of these games (three). However, if the previous meetings between these two teams are any indication of how this playoff series will go, then fans are in for some quality hockey as three of the five regular season matchups between these two teams resulted in overtime.
- San Jose v. Los Angeles- The battle for California has turned into one of the great modern rivalries in hockey. Last time these two teams met in the playoffs, the result left the Sharks in a state of disbelief as they blew a 3-0 series lead to lose in game seven of the series. The Sharks hold a tiny advantage over the Kings entering the series as they have won three of the five meetings between the two teams this season.
My first round predictions
- Dallas Stars v. Minnesota Wild- Lead by Captain Jamie Benn, who is second in the league in points, the Stars are playing great hockey and peaking at the right time. They finished the regular season with 109 points which was enough to place them a top of the Western Conference. Stars will win the series in five games.
- St. Louis Blues v. Chicago Blackhawks- Despite the Blues having a great regular season and finishing only two points behind the Stars in the Western Conference, I am taking the Blackhawks in this series. The Hawks historically always perform well in the playoffs and have won the Stanley Cup three times in the past five years. The Hawks will win this series in seven games.
- Anaheim Ducks v. Nashville Predators- The Ducks will enter this series on a two game win streak. I think Veteran players for the Ducks for example, Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf, will perform well in this series. The Ducks will win the series in six games.
- Los Angeles Kings v. San Jose Sharks- The battle for California will shape up to be an exciting series. Fueled by the disappointment of the 2014 playoff results, the Sharks will pull the upset and win the series in seven games.
- Washington Capitals v. Philadelphia Flyers- Comfortably sitting a top of the Eastern Conference with 120 points, the Capitals are the clear favorite for this series. Captain Alex Ovechkin is having a remarkable season as he leads the league with 50 goals. The Capitals will win this series in five games.
- Pittsburgh Penguins v. New York Rangers- Only three points separated the Penguins and Rangers in the regular season standings. Despite predictions of a decline for the Penguins with the absence of power-forward Evgeni Malkin, who suffered an upper body injury and isn’t expected to return to the lineup until May, the Penguins are 13-1 without Malkin in the lineup. Captain Sidney Crosby is also having a good season as he is third in points and seventh in goals. The Penguins will win this series in six.
- Florida Panthers v. New York Islanders- The Panthers are having a great season as they clinched a playoff spot for the first time since the 2012-2013 season. The Panthers finished the regular season only a point out of second place in the Eastern Conference. The Panthers will win this series in seven games.
- Tampa Bay Lightning v. Detroit Red Wings- With rumors swirling around the hockey sphere about this possibly being Pavel Datsyuk’s last year, the Red Wings will be motivated to do well in the playoffs in order to ensure that Datsyuk can finish his remarkable career with a bang. The Wings will win in seven.