Stanley Cup Playoff Round One Preview

It is everyone’s favorite time of year again, the time where teams go all out to win the Stanley Cup. The playoffs represent two months of absolute mayhem. There are hits, scrums, fights from time to time, beautiful goals and amazing saves. Between mid-April and mid-June, the players put everything on the line to win the ultimate prize. So who is ready to watch some intense hockey? I know I am. Let’s get it on!

Eastern Conference

Columbus Blue Jackets vs Tampa Bay Lightning

 

Series Schedule

Wednesday, April 10, 7 p.m.: Blue Jackets @ Lightning | USA, SN360, TVA Sports

Friday, April 12, 7 p.m.: Blue Jackets @ Lightning | CNBC, SN360, TVA Sports

Sunday, April 14, 7 p.m.: Lightning @ Blue Jackets | NBCSN, SN360, TVA Sports

Tuesday, April 16, 7 p.m.: Lightning @ Blue Jackets | CNBC, SN360, TVA Sports

*Friday, April 19, TBD: Blue Jackets @ Lightning |  TBD

*Sunday, April 21, TBD: Lightning @ Blue Jackets | TBD

*Tuesday, April 23, TBD: Blue Jackets @ Lightning | TBD

 

Keys to the Series

For Columbus

The Blue Jackets need to use their depth on defense and they have a strong netminder in Sergei Bobrovsky who will be an integral part of their success.

For Tampa

For the Lightning, the key will be to come at Columbus with speed and force the Blue Jackets defense into making mental mistakes. They are not the fastest in the league and Tampa can exploit that.

 

Prediction

Tampa Bay in Six. I just think their offense is too high powered for the Blue Jackets defense and Bobrovsky can only do so much. I would also guess this could be the least physical series of the bunch.

 

Toronto Maple Leafs vs Boston Bruins

 

Series Schedule

Thursday, April 11, 7 p.m.: Maple Leafs @ Bruins | NBCSN, SN, CBC, TVA Sports

Saturday, April 13, 8 p.m.: Maple Leafs @ Bruins | NBC, CBC, TVA Sports

Monday, April 15, 7 p.m.: Bruins @ Maple Leafs | CBC, TVA Sports, NBCSN

Wednesday, April 17, 7 p.m.: Bruins @ Maple Leafs | CBC, TVA Sports, NBCSN

*Friday, April 19, TBD: Maple Leafs @ Bruins | TBD

*Sunday, April 21, TBD: Bruins @ Maple Leafs | TBD

*Tuesday, April 23, TBD: Maple Leafs @ Bruins | TBD

 

Keys to the Series

For Toronto

The Maple Leafs have to come out and take game one and plant doubt in the Bruins mind. If they can do that and they can sweep games three and four at home it puts Boston in a bad spot. But for the Maple Leafs, it is important to get off to a 1-0 series lead.

For Boston

Play the body, Toronto is not that big of a team. Make the Maple Leafs pay the price. And Tuukka Rask has to be good in this series, Boston has the lesser offense in the series but not by much. But Rask needs to make the timely save.

 

Prediction

Boston in Six. I think the Bruins are too strong and deeper on defense and because of those two things, I think they will be able to withstand the Maple Leafs offensive attack. Mucking for the puck and paying the price is something Toronto is going to have to prove they can do.

 

New York Islanders vs Pittsburgh Penguins

 

Series Schedule

Wednesday, April 10, 7:30 p.m.: Penguins @ Islanders | NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports

Friday, April 12, 7:30 p.m.: Penguins @ Islanders | NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports

Sunday, April 14, 12 p.m.: Islanders @ Penguins | NBC, SN, CBC, TVA Sports

Tuesday, April 16, 7:30 p.m.: Islanders @ Penguins | NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports

*Thursday, April 18, TBD: Penguins @ Islanders | TBD

*Saturday, April 20, TBD: Islanders @ Penguins | TBD

*Monday, April 22, TBD: Penguins @ Islanders | TBD

 

Keys to the Series

For New York

The Islanders finished the season as one of the top defenses and if they want to continue to play into round two they will have to find a way to get

For Pittsburgh

The key for the Penguins is capitalizing on their scoring chances, the Islanders have a great defense and they do not allow a lot of chances. So the Penguins better cash in on the ones they get.

 

Prediction

Penguins in Five.  think the Penguins’ experience mixed with their depth will be too much for the Islanders. The one thing I am not sure on is the length of the series, I think either five or six but I can’t foresee four or seven.

 

Carolina Hurricanes vs Washington Capitals

Series Schedule

Thursday, April 11, 7:30 p.m.: Hurricanes @ Capitals | USA, SN360, TVA Sports

Saturday, April 13, 3 p.m.: Hurricanes @ Capitals | NBC, SN, TVA Sports

Monday, April 15, 7 p.m.: Capitals @ Hurricanes | CNBC, SN, TVA Sports

Thursday, April 18, 7 p.m.: Capitals @ Hurricanes | SN360, TVA Sports

*Saturday, April 20, TBD: Hurricanes @ Capitals | TBD

*Monday, April 22, TBD: Capitals @ Hurricanes | TBD

*Wednesday, April 24, TBD: Hurricanes @ Capitals | TBD

 

Keys to the Series

For Carolina

Stick to the gameplan and frustrate your opponent to no end. That is all you can do here, don’t try to do too much. It will not work for you.

For Washington

The Capitals just need to play like they know they are capable of. Carolina is not a deep team so it is and Washington is coming off of a Stanley Cup run so they know what needs to be done.

Prediction

Washington in Five. Between the skill and experience levels, I just don’t think Carolina has what it takes to pull off an upset.

St. Louis Blues vs Winnipeg Jets

 

Series Schedule

Wednesday, April 10, 8 p.m.: Blues @ Jets | SN, TVA Sports, NHL Network

Friday, April 12, 9:30 p.m.: Blues @ Jets | SN, TVA Sports, CNBC

Sunday, April 14, 7:30 p.m.: Jets @ Blues | CNBC, SN, CBC, TVA Sports

Tuesday, April 16, 9:30 p.m.: Jets @ Blues | CNBC, SN, TVA Sports

*Thursday, April 18, TBD: Blues @ Jets | TBD

*Saturday, April 20, TBD: Jets @ Blues | TBD

*Monday, April 22, TBD: Blues @ Jets | TBD

 

Keys to the Series

For St. Louis

The Blues just need to focus on playing their game and having a goalie that is on a tear like Jordan Binnington is a luxury to have at a time like this. The Blues have solid depth and one of the best goal scorers in the NHL in Vladimir Tarasenko.

For Winnipeg

The Jets need to use their depth to their advantage. They have possibly the deepest forward group 1-12 in the Western Conference based not just on scoring but also as two-way hockey players which out West is huge.

Prediction

Winnipeg in Five. I think it will be a series of close games but ultimately the Jets have the strongest of the two lineups, the biggest hole for the Jets is defensive depth and even that isn’t bad.

 

Dallas Stars vs Nashville Predators

 

Series Schedule

Wednesday, April 10, 9:30 p.m.: Stars @ Predators | USA, SN1, TVA Sports

Saturday, April 13, 6 p.m.: Stars @ Predators | CNBC, SN, TVA Sports

Monday, April 15, 9:30 p.m.: Predators @ Stars | NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports

Wednesday, April 17, 8 p.m. Predators @ Stars | USA, SN, TVA Sports

*Saturday, April 20, TBD: Stars @ Predators | TBD

*Monday, April 22, TBD: Predators @ Stars | TBD

*Wednesday, April 24, TBD: Stars @ Predators | TBD

 

Keys to the Series

For Dallas

For the Stars it is simple. Their leaders need to produce, and Bishop has to be lights out. The defense for Dallas is young but skilled. The one thing that hurts Dallas is a lack of forwarding and defensive depth.

For Nashville

The Predators defense mixed with a solid offense is a pretty good recipe for success and I think they will be in for a long playoff run. I want to see Pekka Rinne not lay an egg on the ice though in an important time.

Prediction

Nashville in Five. Nashville is too deep and too good for the Stars to compete with. This isn’t a Dallas issue, this is a Western Conference issue. Nashville is one of the deepest teams in the NHL.

Colorado Avalanche vs Calgary Flames

 

Series Schedule

Thursday, April 11, 10 p.m.: Avalanche @ Flames | SN, CBC, TVA Sports, NBCSN

Saturday, April 13, 10:30 p.m.: Avalanche @ Flames | SN, CBC, TVA Sports, NBCSN

Monday, April 15, 10 p.m.: Flames @ Avalanche | CNBC, CBC, TVA Sports

Wednesday, April 17, 10 p.m.: Flames @ Avalanche | NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports

*Friday, April 19, TBD: Avalanche @ Flames | TBD

*Sunday, April 21, TBD: Flames @ Avalanche | TBD

*Tuesday, April 23, TBD: Avalanche @ Flames | TBD

 

Keys to the Series

For Colorado

Colorado needs secondary scoring. They cannot just get contributions from the top line only if that is how they plan on winning they are in for a long series.

For Calgary

The Flames have a deep offense and a good defense. I just wonder if the goalie by committee thing is really going to be successful for them. Sure it has worked so far, but Mike Smith scares me.

Prediction

Calgary in Six. The Flames are a high powered offense and I feel like they can overpower the Avalanche. I do wonder if the Avs have an advantage in experience and wonder if that can be a tool for them. Even if it can, I don’t see it being enough of an advantage at the end of the series. So again, Flames in six.

 

Vegas Golden Knights vs San Jose Sharks

 

Series Schedule

Wednesday, April 10, 10:30 p.m.: Golden Knights @ Sharks | NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports

Friday, April 12, 10:30 p.m.: Golden Knights @ Sharks | NBCSN, SN360, TVA Sports

Sunday, April 14, 10 p.m.: Sharks @ Golden Knights | NBCSN, SN, SN360, TVA Sports

Tuesday, April 16, 10:30 p.m.: Sharks @ Golden Knights | NBCSN, SN360, TVA Sports

*Thursday, April 18, TBD: Golden Knights @ Sharks | TBD

*Sunday, April 21, TBD: Sharks @ Golden Knights | TBD

*Tuesday, April 23, TBD: Golden Knights @ Sharks | TBD

 

Keys to the Series

For Vegas

The Knights have the advantage in strength and I think that will eventually help them in the playoffs. I can’t say if it will be enough to propel them towards a Stanley Cup. But if strength is a measurable asset to have in the playoffs they have plenty of it.

For San Jose

To counteract the Vegas physicality the Sharks have to use their speed and offense to get an advantage in the series. They are not going to combat the Golden Knights by playing a heavy game. They have to play a speed game. And if they try to outmuscle the Knights they will be in for a long series.

Prediction

Vegas in Six. The Golden Knights are just too good on defense and they have the strength advantage. As much as I like the Sharks and their talent. They got a tough-luck draw facing one of the hotter teams in the NHL right now.

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