Edited: I had a brain fart and wrote that the Rangers had home ice in round 2. I realized this after the fact. They do not. Ottawa does.
Wow, round one had some surprises and a few series which were pretty great at busting brackets — mine included. Let me recap for those who aren’t paying attention, and also predict where we go from here:
First, I’ll address what may be the single most stunning part of the playoffs so far: the first round sweep of the Chicago BlackHawks by the Nashville Predators. As the blue furball says, Oh my stars and garters. This one probably ruined nearly every bracket out there. I had Chicago going near all the way, losing in the finals. Nope.
Also this round: the Pens did better than I expected against the Blue Jackets. I expected a win, but not nearly in that decisive a fashion. A lot of that came down to goaltending at both ends, but also the sheer talent of the Pens.
I also did not see the Leafs being as strong as they were. They squeaked in on the last weekend, and were the eight seed. Yet they played five of six games to overtime, and six overtime periods in total (though five were interrupted before the end by game winning goals). Toronto is going to be downright scary in the future. Good for them; Babcock is one of the best coaches in the game, hands down.
I’m disappointed by the Bruins losing in the first round. A lot of people cite this and the Pens/CBJ series as proof the divisional-based playoffs are bad, but I actually like it despite one of my adopted teams being on the short end. Ottawa earned the series win, and Boston limped into playoffs. That’s how things shake out sometimes. It also will better build rivalries within the divisions, which to me are far more interesting.
The Rangers beating the Canadiens isn’t what I predicted, but I am not very surprised. Of the series I was wrong about this is the least surprising. The Rangers have a good team, and their goalie is legendary.
The Ducks and Oilers winning isn’t surprising, but the Ducks getting a sweep took me by surprise. Finally, wow — the Wild might be the team with the strongest argument they got screwed by the format, because St. Louis took it to them. Here’s the next round:
– Blues vs Preds, with the Blues having home ice (they play games 1, 2, 5, and 7 in St. Louis, for those unsure of what that means, and games 3, 4, and 6 in Nashville).
This could be an epic series, but I think the Preds will win out. Why not after banishing the Hawks? I’ll say this goes to six, though, with the Preds advancing on home ice.
– Ducks vs Oilers, and the Ducks have home ice.
The Oilers will put up a good fight, but the Ducks have a lot going for them. Ducks in seven, though this’ll be only a slight upset if the Oilers win.
– Rangers vs Ottawa with the
Rangers Senators having home ice.
The Rangers will win this every day of the week. Six games maybe, but I won’t be surprised by five or seven. (A sweep would be genuinely shocking, though).
– Caps versus Penguins, and the Caps have home ice (through playoffs, actually).
A lot of the narrative right now is that the Caps might have a hard time with the Penguins since the Maple Leafs gave them fits. I’m not sure that applies. The Penguins don’t have Anderson in goal, for one, and that guy was on fire. I wouldn’t put it past Flower to put in some amazing performances, but I think this is the year for revenge from Washington.
Caps in 5, with the home team winning every game except game 4.
Final Note, the Blues, Preds, and Caps have never won the Stanley Cup. The Rangers last won in the 90s, the Penguins last year, the Ducks in 2007, the Oilers in 1990, and an Ottawa Senators team won as recently as 1927, but they are not the same club. It is quite possible that the Final will be against teams that have never won the cup — which I think would be great for the sport. But we’ll see in mid-June.