Tag: nhl playoffs

Tampa Bay Lightning Clinch Playoff Spot

The Tampa Bay Lightning continue their historic season. Aside from being the first team to 50 wins and 100 points this season, they have yet to lose 15 games all year. And last week they tied the Detroit Red Wings (1995-96) as one of the fastest teams to reach 50 wins. The Lightning accomplished this feat in 66 games.

With 12 games remaining if the Lightning were to win every game but two they will go down in NHL history for most wins in the regular season. The Lightning are 8 wins away from the Flyers home wins in a season record (1975-76), they are 8 wins away from most road wins in a season. With 12 games remaining and a possible 24 points on the table the Lightning could be second all-time in most points in a season.

The Lightning as we all know by now clinched a playoff spot the other night with the Blue Jackets and Canadiens both losing in regulation Wednesday night.

Right now it is looking to be a Lightning vs Canadiens first round match up, the other two still in a potential playoff wild card hunt are the Blue Jackets and Flyers. No matter who the Lightning play first round I think we can assume it will be a series win for them.

With 12 games remaining the Lightning have Detroit (today), Toronto(2) Detroit, Washington (3), Arizona, Carolina, Boston(2), St. Louis, Ottawa, Montreal. Attempting to predict the future, I think we see the Lightning end with 126 points around that marker.

Why Is NO ONE Talking About The Montreal Canadiens?

The biggest WAGON in the NHL right now the Montreal Canadiens. The Canadiens are one point behind the Maple Leafs for the second spot in the Atlantic division. They are on a three-game winning streak, 8-1-1 in their last ten games and have pushed the Bruins into the Wild Card race now with their latest win on home ice vs the Central division leading Jets. That was a dominating 5-2 Canadiens win. A win that should perhaps make you re-think this Canadiens team right now.

The Canadiens came into the season projected by many reporters to be a middle of the pack, borderline at best wild card team this season. They came out the season shocking many, putting themselves on the radar and the talk early in the season was these Canadiens are not that bad perhaps. Then they fell off everyone’s radar and it seems like no one is talking about them even though they have been extremely consistent all season.

Kevin Allen of USA Today projected the Canadiens to be 28-41-13 with 69 points, the Hockey Writers website projected the Canadiens to finish 7th in the Atlantic division. But after all is said and done and we are now 60 percent of the season played and 55 games in (for Montreal) they are 31-18-6 with 68 points. They have a 17-10-3 home record, 14-8-3 road record and a +11 goal differential. They rank 13th in goals for (167) and 20th in goals against (158), 14th in goals per game (3.04) and 22nd in goals against per game (2.87). Even despite the 30th ranked power play (13.0) and 21st penalty kill (79.0) the Canadiens have been one of the most consistent and surprising teams this season.

A lot of this success rides on a healthy Carey Price, 40 games played a 23-13-4 record a 2.52 goals against, .916 save percentage and 3 shutouts is helping the Canadiens play consistent. Along with Max Domi’s team leading 47 points in 55 games, Jonathan Drouin’s 46 points in 55 games (not to mention a four point night vs Winnipeg Thursday), Philip Danault 40 points, Tomas Tartar 39 points, Jeff Petry 37 points, Brendan Gallagher 35 points, Shea Weber return and 20 points in 31 games. Overall the Canadiens are getting much needed and consistent production from their top two players, support from the surrounding cast like Tartar, Gallagher, Danault, the rookie Jesperi Kotkaniemi’s 27 points (current 4-game goal streak).

The Canadiens are getting the production they need from the right guys. They have finally seen Drouin do what they brought him here to do, Domi’s confidence and obvious liking of the switch to Montreal is paying off. Kotkaniemi playing well his first year is big, Gallagher playing consistent, the addition of Tartar, Danault having a big year. Two defenseman that are playing like top defenseman in the league and a healthy Price is the recipe for the Canadiens success.

If the season were to end right now they would be playing Toronto first round. Not an easy match up but it is not like they cannot upset the Leafs first round. The Canadiens are going to make the playoffs and they will be a very tough first round opponent. Either way first round exit or not the Canadiens are and have exceeded expectations this season and NO ONE is talking about it. Where are the WAGON shirts for the Canadiens @SpittinChiclets ?

The Wild Card Race In The Western Conference Is A Joke

I tried to make this sound as polite as possible but what a disaster this Western Conference wild card race has been. It goes to show one of the many reasons that the last three Stanley Cup winners has come from the Eastern Conference but also this could mean that maybe these teams a top the Western Conference are not that good. But back to the main point of this article.

How can a conference have a wild card race like this, a team that is basically below .500 is in the run for the wild card right now. A team that was once 16 points out of a spot is in the run for a wild card and in the last wild card spot (Blues). I am just completely blown away by the fact that at this point in the season, 52 games in 63 percent of the season played we still have no idea what is going to happen in the Western Conference wild card.

The current wild card layout is as follows: 

Minnesota Wild (26-23-5) 57 points (1st wild card spot)

St. Louis Blues (25-22-5) 55 points (2nd wild card spot)

Vancouver Canucks (24-24-7) 55 points

Colorado Avalanche (22-22-9) 53 points

Edmonton Oilers (24-25-5) 53 points

Chicago Blackhawks (22-24-9) 53 points

The fact the Edmonton Oilers are two points out of a wild card spot is embarrassing, they have won 6 of their last 15 games a record of 6-9 in the last 15 makes you a playoff team I guess now.

The Canucks who have won 4 of their last 14 games, a 4-10 record is a playoff contending team. Just looking at this race it is a complete disaster, any team can squeak in at this point so if you are a gambling man just throw money on all six teams to make the playoffs you’ll probably walk away with some money at this point. Not to mention the Ducks who have won TWO games in their last seven and a half weeks and have been outscored 31-6 are four points out of a wild card spot. Argument closed.

The reason this race for the wild card in the West irks me a little is because any of these teams that get into the first round are going to get bounced in four to five games. Which honestly just kills NHL viewership, ratings and the growth of the game in a sense. If you are not a die hard NHL fan there is not a chance in h double hockey sticks you are watching a Blues-Flames playoff matchup.

Can anyone else shed some light here? MY prediction is that the Canucks and Blues sneak into the playoffs. Or should I say those are the two teams I would like to see make it.

Capitals tie series at one, heading back to Washington for games 3 and 4…

The Capitals have done the impossible! What a win for the Capitals last night though, not many expected this too happen a lot thought it was going to be a 2-0 Vegas lead heading into Washington and home ice was going to play a huge role in this series. But now for Washington they’re heading home with a tied series and the chance to go up 3-1 before heading back to Vegas for game five, HUGE.

The Golden Knights had the chance to win this game several times and something we have not seen Vegas do, but they did not counter on their chances. The Golden Knights had a 5 on 3 with minutes left in the third and then a wide open net that Alex Tuch got absolutely robbed on, and that was it, 3-2 Washington. 1-1 series.

The story here is Alex Ovechkin does anybody think this guy may be possessed by some Russian milk or something. He is not only scoring goals but he is absolutely ruining the Vegas defenseman and forwards. Ovechkin has now registered 9 hits in two games. I don’t know what Ovechkin is doing but there is something about him this year that is different. He certainly feels the pressure being in the Stanley Cup, getting older and realizing his window is closing but still, he looks locked in and ready to run through a wall. In game one when he got hit in the face with that puck, and just wiped it off like it was a fly, that’s when I knew ok this guy is probably not human.

This Golden Knights and Capitals Cup match up has been interesting series, totaling 10 goals in game on and 5 in game two, the goal scoring is there and it has been also a back and forth battle with non stop action. The good part the teams are starting to really dislike each other, that took a total of 24 hours. Anyways, the Golden Knights should not be too worried the Capitals have lost four games this playoffs on the road, so winning on the road is not impossible for Vegas as they have also won 6 games on the road this playoff season.

This series is going to go seven games I think though but the Capitals have to hope that Evgeny Kuznetsov is healthy for game three and the rest of this series or they are in some deep trouble. Nothing has come out about his injury but it looked to a be wrist injury after Brayden McNabb hit Kuzy late in the second period.

Game three and four will be in Washington, game three airs Saturday June 2nd and game four Monday June 4th. The positive to this is that Vegas and Washington get two full rest days to refocus, recoup and get back together. The Capitals need to utilize these two rest days to do all they can to hope Kuznetsov comes back for this series. Without Kuzy this is going to be even harder for the Capitals to win.

For now, game three in Washington, 8:00 p.m….

Video summary of game two below!

FREE NHL PLAYOFF Picks: April 17, 2018

Washington Capitals vs Columbus Blue Jackets

Capitals are in some tough water now as they head to Columbus down 2-0 and have two to play in Nation Wide arena. If losing in the second round has been a horror for Capitals fans, perhaps getting swept in the first is worse. The Capitals and Blue Jackets have kept every game very close and both games have gone to overtime. The story out of this series though is the power play advantage as the Blue Jackets have converted on 4/8 of their man advantage scenarios and the Capitals are 5/11, just two games we have seen a combined 9 power play goals. Essentially if the Capitals want to take this one it is either stay out of the box or convert on their power plays more than Columbus. Also, another headline for tonight is Braden Holtby returning to the crease? As Philip Grubauer got pulled in Sunday’s game, it may be Holtby’s crease rest of playoffs. This game is a do or die for the Capitals the only way they win this game is if they stay disciplined, get off to an early lead and hold the Blue Jackets off. Holding a lead is tough in the playoffs and it’s been evident for Washington, but game three in Columbus up 2-0, will not be easy for the Capitals to take. Going Columbus here tonight.

Winnipeg Jets vs Minnesota Wild

The Jets come into this game under a little better circumstances. They dealt with major traveling issues before game three and it showed as they got pumped 6-2. I would have to guarantee we will see a different Jets team. Although the Wild are good at playing at home and they feed off the energy at the Excel Center, the Jets are going to come out buzzing after losing the way they did. The Wild have welcomed Jared Spurgeon back recently, so that is a plus and they did see offensive production from a number of guys last game. The Jets though like I said were not themselves. The Jets still managed to outshoot the Wild too, Dubynk played a great game but he won’t do that every game as he has faced 115 shots over the last three games. This is going to be an interesting one, it will be tough for the Jets to come into Minnesota and take one, but it is not impossible. With a chance to take a 3-1 lead heading back home to Winnipeg for a possible series win in game five. The Jets have to be thinking this game is a must win. As goes for the Wild. Going to be a tough one to call but I’m going Wild.

Vegas Golden Knights vs Los Angeles Kings 

Vegas is up 3-0! With a chance to be the first team to win their playoff series as well as collect their first playoff series win in franchise history. The Golden Knights have been backed by Marc Andre Fleury and his stellar performances, as the Kings, Jonathan Quick has stood tall the Kings are struggling to score goals. The real advantage the Kings have over Vegas right now is their physical play. They have thrown the body around a ton this series but it has not been proven to work as of late. The Kings need to come out and get the first one here tonight and build from that momentum. Too many times they let Vegas generate some confidence and pressure them on the front end, which has put them on their heels and in some tough spots. The Kings know what to expect from Vegas at this point, a gritty, explosive team that will be in your face all game. If L.A. manages to get to Fleury early and get a couple of quick ones here they can win. Another real tight one to call but I’m going L.A.

FREE NHL PLAYOFF Picks: April 16, 2018

Boston Bruins vs Toronto Maple Leafs

The Bruins head into Toronto up 2-0 and outscoring the Leafs 12 to 4, no one saw this coming. Not even Boston. David Pastrnak, Patrice Bergeron, and Brad Marchand have combined for 20 points over the first two games, as Pastrnak is coming off a 6 point night, and leading the Bruins with 9 points. The Leafs have struggled greatly against Boston, and it seems the whole Frederick Anderson owns Boston is no more now. The Leafs luckily get two at home here, but this will not be any different than the first two games. The Leafs have come out to slow starts in both games and have allowed 4 power play goals, giving Boston a 40 percent rate right now. It’s pretty evident what we can expect from this Toronto team, they are going to need to come out and get the first goal here and get off to a much better start. There top guys like Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner are going to need to be relevant out there. With Nazem Kadri out still due to a suspension, the Leafs will be using Leo Komarov a bit more to match up against top lines. This Bruins team is extremely deep, for some reason, people had Toronto to take this series which I am not sure why but it is clear the Bruins are showing everyone why they deserve to be a Stanley Cup team. Going Leafs tonight though, Bruins in game four.

Tampa Bay Lightning vs New Jersey Devils

This series is going exactly how everyone expected it too. Well most of us, those who are not blinded by reality. The Devils yes are going to put up a fight for a majority of the game but the Lightning are the better team and know what needs to be done this time of year. Production from guys like Brayden Point and Alex Killron have helped the Lightning take some pressure off the top guns, but still, with a line up with Stamkos and Kucherov as well, it is hard to slow these guys down. The Devils did throw 50 plus shots on net last game which is a good sign, but Andrei Vasalevskiy has stood tall for a majority of this season while Keith Kinkaid, for the most part, has not, as he has allowed 10 goals in two games. Which may open up the conversation about starting Corey Schneider possibly. The Devils run the possibility of dropping this game here tonight and facing elimination during game four. I think the Devils understand how important this game is and will for sure play a very desperate game. Going home to the “Rock” in front of home fans will help the Devils out here tonight. Going Devils here.

Nashville Predators vs Colorado Avalanche

The Predators have faced a much tougher Colorado team then they expected. Colorado has not gone down easy and each game has been neck and neck until the end. The shots are 63 to 58 in favor of Nashville and a team we expected to see very little production on the front end have scored four-plus goals in both games. The Avalanche are a hungry team for sure, and a team that is happy to be here, but the Predators are just a much deeper, all around better team. For any of those who expected Nashville to not take this series in five games or even lose the series, may want to reconsider their hockey knowledge. This series is going can one of two ways, the Avalanche rally behind the home fans at the Pepsi Center and take two here or they make it a little easier for Nashville and split the next two games with the chance of elimination in Nashville for game five. I think Nashville takes this one tonight, Colorado takes game four, then Nashville finishes business in game five on home ice. Going Nashville tonight.

Anaheim Ducks vs San Jose Sharks

No one expected this series to go how it is right now. San Jose is only the second team this playoff run to go home with a 2-0 advantage(Columbus). The Sharks did the unspeakable and took two games in Anaheim. The first was Evander Kane’s first career playoff game in which he, of course, scored two goals. Game two was a little different as the game was very tight and back and forth all game, but Martin Jones stood tall and shut the door on Anaheim’s late third period chances. The Ducks are now a game away from hitting the panic button. The Ducks drop this one tonight and stay in San Jose for game four, it could be a sweep for the Sharks. Luckily I do not see that happening, I think Anaheim’s veterans and core guys, step up big here tonight, rally the troops and take one in San Jose tonight. The Ducks veterans like Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, and Adam Henrique will need to be chipping in and doing whatever is necessary to get this team focused. The Ducks cannot afford to drop one here tonight, it is a do or die game for them and that is why I see a very desperate, physical Ducks team coming out tonight. Going Ducks here.

 

Western Conference Stanley Cup Playoff Predicitions

Vegas (51-24-7, 109 points)
Los Angeles (45-29-8, 98 points)

The Kings and Golden Knights have played each other four times this year, in which the season series is tied at 2-2, the last time they played was on February 27, a lot has changed for these two in that time so we can expect a different result then regular season play showed. The Kings are seeming to be the favorite here, with Williams Jennings trophy winner Jonathan Quick and Anze Kopitar being a Hart candidate, plus winning a Stanley Cup in the last six years. The Kings have a very solid, deep offensive group, while their defense is arguably the best top four in the league. With Anze Kopitar going from a 50 point season to a 90 point season and Dustin Brown turning his career around(sort of) the Kings come into this game as everyone’s favorite. We cannot discredit Vegas though one of the top five teams in the league, coming into the playoffs is the story of this league and winning the Pacific division their first year in the NHL. This Vegas team has been quite the story, with a veteran goaltender and two-time Stanley Cup champion, plus James Neal and other pieces they have on the front end, this team will be put to test in the playoffs. A lot of questions remain unanswered as to how this Vegas offense will perform come playoff time, William Karlsson and Jonathan Marchessault with little playoff experience will be tested to see if they can continue their tear. This series I have to go Kings in seven.

Anaheim (44-25-13, 101 points)
San Jose (45-27-10, 100 points)

This is going to make for an interesting series, two California teams going head to head in the battle of which team is Cali’s team. The Ducks and Sharks have met in the regular season four times in which three went to a shootout. Let’s just say this series is going seven. The Ducks and Sharks have met in the playoffs though just one time in 2008-2009 in which Anaheim won 4-2. The Sharks have been on a roll as of late since acquiring Evander Kane their offense has been quite the story and a hard group to contain. Plus one of the most consistent and reliable goaltenders in the league Martin Jones. Jones does not get as much credit as he should and I think he is the difference maker in this series for San Jose, they match up offensively, or some may argue the Ducks have a deeper offensive group and defensive group. But the Ducks are battling some injuries on the backend with Cam Fowler out and John Gibson questionable. The Sharks will rely on Jones to help them through this series, these two match up very well, but Anaheim comes off as the better team on paper. Luckily that means nothing and it comes down to heart and will come this time of year. This series I have to go San Jose in seven.

Nashville (53-18-11, 117 points)
Colorado (43-30-9, 95 points)

This is probably one of the easier first-round matchups, not to discredit Colorado but the Predators are going to be impossible to beat int he first round after sniffing the Cup last year and being President trophy winners this year, this team is on a mission and I don’t think anyone is getting in their way. The Avalanche and Predators have met four times this season in which the Predators won all four. On paper, the Predators are the better team and with a Vezina favorite and veteran goaltender in net vs Jonathan Bernier and his five games, playoff experience should be enough right there to determine this series. The Predators have the depth up front, the depth on the back end, the experience, in all facets they are the better team. Colorado will make it tough on these guys but at the end of the day the Predators will come out on top. Amazing to see what this Colorado team has done after having one fo the worst season in the past 15 years, to turn it around and make a playoff run. Kudos to them, but this is a positive sign for the group, just right now is not their time. Predators in five.

Winnipeg (52-20-10, 114 points)
Minnesota (45-26-11, 101 points)

The #2 and #3 seed in the division matchups always make for a great battle. The Jets come off the same as Nashville they are a dominant team up and down the lineup, they have the skill in all facets of the ice to dominate games. The Jets and Wild met in the regular season four times in which the Jets have the series advantage 3-1. The Wild are coming into this series with not much to lose, they know they are the underdog and will use that to fuel their play. The Wild have seen some offensive production out of nowhere from Eric Staal and with their depth, on the front end, it will be a big help to match this Jets team. The part that kills the Wild is that Ryan Suter is out for the playoffs and he has been someone that eats the most minutes and that leader on the back end for Minnesota. With him out Matt Dumba and Jared Spurgeon will be called upon big time. The Jets have arugably the best top-9 in the league, plus with an established goaltender, they have that reassurance in net. If their back end can hold up and play a simple game this team will be fine. The Jets are the favorites for many reasons and it is not a surprise this team is a favorite as they should win and will win. This series I’m going Jets in six.