Another year, another NHL season in the books. And now, the best time of year is upon us again. The Stanley Cup Playoffs. And, same rules apply as any other year – I yet again have watched less hockey than I did in the previous year. Or at least it seems that way. I get to watch games on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and it’s not always the Hawks. Also sometimes on Sundays. Last year I stopped listening to the radio broadcasts and just stuck to the NHL’s website game center. This year the NHL completely nuked their website into something atrocious and unusable so I couldn’t even do that effectively. I basically just had to refresh Twitter constantly and hope to see that someone scored for the Hawks and avoid Blues fans being morons or people bitching about Patrick Kane possibly being a rapist. (We know, we know. I CAN’T DO ANYTHING ABOUT THAT. Go back to my “Blackhawks Fan’s Conundrum” post and don’t bitch at me for liking the rest of the team please: https://mzrc.wordpress.com/2016/01/13/a-blackhawks-fans-conundrum/).
I don’t have much else to say so let’s just get straight to it.
(1) Washington Capitals vs. (WC2) Philadelphia Flyers
The Washington Capitals are the best team in the league. Or at least that’s what their record says. I mean, President’s Trophy, right? Sure enough, whenever I would see that they were playing, it seemed like they were always winning. Braden Holtby will win the Vezina. Ovechkin reached 500 goals. And while they’re clearly good, does that make them unbeatable? No. Let’s be fair here – the entire Eastern Conference is the Washington Capitals and a ton of shit to average teams. And the Eastern Conference plays 50 games within the conference. So while they’ve got the best record, they’ve had a fairly easy time of it being up against much lesser opponents almost every night. So I’d feel comfortable saying the Capitals will likely come out of the East to make the Finals – it seems like a no brainer to me – but their real challenge will be whomever they would face in the Finals. The West is the inarguable tougher conference.
The Philadelphia Flyers won their second to last game to make it into the playoffs. Hurray.
Capitals have got this, easily.
(2) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. (3) New York Rangers
The Penguins have Phil Kessel and are better than they were a year ago, and the Rangers don’t seem nearly as good as they were a year ago.
THIS SERIES NEVER HAPPENS GUYS. LIKE, IT NEVER DOES. IN FACT IT WASN’T TOTALLY A FIRST ROUND MATCHUP A YEAR AGO. OR A SECOND ROUND MATCHUP TWO YEARS AGO.
While last year it seemed like a slam dunk Rangers win, this year, as long as Fleury is good, I feel like a Pens win is more probable.
(1) Florida Panthers vs. (WC1) New York Islanders
Guys. Guys… The Florida Panthers made the playoffs. The Florida Panthers won their division, guys. The Florida Panthers broke 100 points, guys. I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH MY HANDS. Like, this is a thing. It’s not a drill. The Panthers are #1 in their division and I feel like I know nothing about them outside of that they have Luongo and Brian Campbell.
The New York Islanders have made the playoffs for the second straight year and yet they seem like a non-factor to me. They seemed good last year. And this year, they just seemed to be losing more than they won.
As much as the Isles don’t seem as good as they were a year ago, I feel like they’ve got an edge because the Panthers have only made the playoffs once in the past who knows how long amount of years.
Shut up, here’s a scarf, go Nets!
(2) Tampa Bay Lightning vs. (3) Detroit Red Wings
Hey, don’t you love when you have less points than the wild card teams but you make the playoffs and get second and third place instead? These teams sure do.
Tampa Bay seems nowhere near as good as they were a year ago and now they don’t have Stamkos. Detroit is lucky Boston choked in their final game of the season so their precious little playoff streak survives another year.
Kind of a difficult choice to make here, but Tampa. Also this series totally wasn’t a first round matchup a year ago. It totally wasn’t.
(1) Anaheim Ducks vs. (WC1) Nashville Predators
It’s really sad that the Anaheim Ducks were able to be so bad for so long at the beginning of the season, losing so many games and barely even scoring any goals for like a month, and now they’re number one in their division. Way to fuck that one up Pacific Division. You suck.
The Nashville Predators are still here to annoy the fuck out of us, I guess.
Ducks. (This series totally didn’t happen in 2012.)
(2) Los Angeles Kings vs. (3) San Jose Sharks
Hey the Kings are back in the playoffs!
Hey the Sharks are back in the playoffs!
Kings. Sharks are good but they don’t really strike me as really good like the Kings do.
(1) Dallas Stars vs. (WC4) Minnesota Wild
Hey the Stars didn’t make the playoffs last year, got Patrick Sharp, and now they’re number one in the conference. Obvious correlation there.
The Minnesota Wild are only in the playoffs because the Blackhawks decided to let them win five games against them. It’s a shame because Wild fans probably think they’re better than the Hawks when the only logical and valid reason the Hawks have lost 9 straight regular season games against Devan Dubnyk is that they simply do not give enough of a fuck to try against them. Also Parise is hurt now so that’s not good for them.
(2) St. Louis Blues vs. (3) Chicago Blackhawks
The Blues are still here, as dickbiscuit-y as ever. And still with only one real scoring threat.
The Chicago Blackhawks are as Blackhawks as ever. God, that February/March slump seemed worse than it usually is, didn’t it? I’ve learned to never count the Hawks out it, ever. No matter how much it looks like the Hawks can’t do it, they like to take that assumption and spit it back in your face. And as long as the Hawks are healthy going in to game 2 (Keith will miss game 1, sorry Wild announcers who got super pissy about the length of the suspension which was the correct length of the suspension. What? You thought he should get more? Why? It’s not like you’re going to make the second round so it’s not like it affects you. Fuck off.) then I have a hard time thinking they can’t do it.
Crawford’s going to have to be lights out for the entire playoffs if they want a chance to win. Which is good, because he pretty much has been all season. Unfortunately he was out near the end for a few weeks, and had he not he’d be the rightful Vezina winner.
Say what you want about Kane but he had a 106 point season and more than 40 goals. Panarin’s going to win the Calder. If Anisimov (even better than Richards, btw) is healthy and line is as good as they have been, then they should be good.
Ladd being back is amazing. Him, Toews, and Hossa is also a great line. Kruger being gone for a long time hurt the PK a lot. The fourth line could use some work.
After Keith, Seabrook, and Hjalmarsson, the rest of the defense still is pretty bad. And Keith hasn’t been as good as he usually is this year, either.
The power play has been better. So hurray. (Although good power play usually means bad playoff run for reasons unknown.)
As far as this series is concerned, I have to pick the Hawks as long as they play to their full potential. Losing to the Blues is unacceptable. (Losing to the Ducks is also unacceptable.)
So, outside of the Hawks, there are only a few other teams I would hope would win in their place if they fall short. I’m a Dallas Stars fan for as long as they have Sharp. I still like the Sharks even though their Raffi Torres years killed some interest and they are nowhere near as good. I wouldn’t mind an Islanders or Rangers win if those were possible. Tampa Bay would be fine but Stamkos is hurt so that makes me care a bit less. Hell, I wouldn’t mind a Penguins win because of Kessel. And hell, why not Florida? I mean, they’re here so why not?? And I guess I wouldn’t mind a Caps win either. (Although, they do have T.J. Oshie…) I don’t know – the days where I hated Crosby and Ovechkin have ended so my hatred of those teams are gone and now belong to other teams. The teams I would hate to see win would be the Wild or Predators just because I’d probably vomit endlessly, or the Kings because I’m so sick of the same winners (if it’s not the Hawks of course), the Blues because fuck the Blues, and the Ducks because fuck the Ducks. The last three are the only ones that absolutely cannot win. The rest I’m indifferent to.
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