Come 7:00 EST tonight, the NHL playoffs are officially underway and hardly anyone knows it here in the south. Despite the fact that the Tampa Bay Lightning are a 3-seed, and a legitimate contender for the cup, in a competitive Eastern Conference, nobody outside of Tampa seems to really care in the state of Florida. I’d argue there isn’t enough coverage (at least not on major networks like ESPN), but here in Jacksonville we get every single Lightning game of the season.
I’m not here to write about the apathetic attitudes towards hockey, but rather give those who are interested some bullet points that will help them get through the playoffs if they choose to watch. Some of these are biased. Some of these are not.
- The Los Angeles Kings, despite winning the Stanley Cup last year, missed the playoffs this year, contributing to a wide open Western Conference. I honestly don’t know who to pick. Anaheim is good but the Flames are a better than their seeding. The Blackhawks are getting Kane back and the Blues are capable of reaching the WCF.
- Alex Ovechkin is the best player in hockey right now. I don’t care what you say. He’s a scoring machine and actually plays defense this year. He’s an incredibly skilled skater that will knock you on your ass any given moment.
- Sidney Crosby sucks but I hope he and the Penguins upset the New York Rangers in the first round because the Rangers scare the shit out of me. They are really, really good.
- Carey Price, of the #2 seed Montreal Canadiens, is arguably the best goalie in the league right now but nobody seems all that interested in picking them to make it out of the Eastern Conference, or even out of the first round against Ottawa
- The Detroit Redwings are now in the Eastern Conference, and though they aren’t spectacular, they are just one of those franchises that makes me twinge as a Capitals fan. I won’t be surprised if they are in the ECF.
- Alex Ovechkin won his third consecutive (and fifth overall) Rocket Trophy this year and is a legitimate MVP candidate this year (he already has 3). He is nothing short of amazing.
Okay, so the majority of those were biased, but that’s okay because I don’t follow the NHL that much outside of the Capitals and the Eastern Conference. But I’m exited. Playoff hockey is here and it’s one the best playoff experiences out there.
Almost Base-less Predictions
- Anaheim Ducks over Calgary Flames in 6
- St. Louis Blues over Winnipeg Jets in 5
- Minnesota Wild over Nashville Predators in 7
- Chicago Blackhawks over Vancouver Canucks in 4
- New York Rangers over Pittsburgh Penguins in 5
- Ottawa Senators over Montreal Canadiens in 7
- Tampa Bay Lightning over Detroit Redwings in 7
- Washington Capitals over New York Islanders in 6
Come back after the first round for my very casual and general analysis and predictions for the second round.