The Los Angeles Kings are out, the Flames are in.
Now I am thinking about the Blues or Flames final. Wouldn’t that be grand?
The team I have loved to hate for the past 4-5 years is officially no better than my Toronto Maple Leafs. Proof that in this wonderful league, anything is possible.
Reason to rejoice for every single team that does make it in, they won’t have to put up with those once-no-name kids from California who weren’t even that good prior to 2011.
I have always thought that pressure was never a problem for that Kings team, now apparently I am wrong. They don’t get a crack at their 3rd Stanley Cup in 5 years.
Now it is officially time to take a look at the Canadian Stanley Cup playoff teams, along with a reason or 2 why each may do what those Kings were able to do, almost at will.
The Winnipeg Jets: where did the Winnipeg Jets even come from? At the start of the season, like Calgary, nobody ever gave them any respect. Now all of the sudden, they are looking like one of those teams that all of the experienced teams do not want to play against. Like the Kings the year they won the Cup in 2012 and 2014, they are going to be one of the teams with zero pressure on them. I think that all they have to do is go out and try and have fun, and they could be having fun all the way to the Final. Winnipeg is so pumped right now they have a playoff anthem recorded to the tune of Eminem’s ‘Without Me.’ Look it up on youtube. Count Winnipeg as one of the few teams with nothing to lose.
First round opponent: Anaheim Ducks
Prediction: Jets, if they don’t play afraid
The Ottawa Senators: the Sens are going to the playoffs. The best news for them? They won’t have to face my Leafs in the playoffs. Technically that means they could win it all. I don’t know much about Mark Stone or Mika Zibanejad, or even the burger guy, but they sure seem to have been playing well lately, plus they have a GM whose health lately hasn’t been great, and it actually seems to be serving as some kind of motivation. Ottawa’s recent tear has been absolutely ridiculous. Twenty wins and three losses and three OTLs is one of the most impressive late-season stretches ever.
First round opponent: the Montreal Canadiens.
Prediction: I don’t think the Habs could lose if they tried to lose. Hopefully the Sens will make an interesting series but I can’t see them beating Carey Price enough to win 4 games.
The Montreal Canadiens: not much more needs to be said other than Carey Price. He plays well, Habs win. Pretty simple. I would love to get a copy of the Senators’ game plan for Game 1.
The Calgary Flames: can we all recognize the season that former Red Wing Jiri Hudler is having? He’s 31 years old and he has the same number of goals. Hudler ranks eighth in the league with almost a point-per-game production (76 points in 78 games) and has been vital in helping the team clinch a playoff berth. Sean Monahan and Johnny Hockey have the ability to light it up. They are playing against a team that doesn’t have a whole lot of playoff success in recent years.
First round opponent: the Vancouver Canucks.
Prediction: a Canadian team is going to win this series, that is about the only guarantee right now, but I think the Flames have a slightly better-built team. It’s Eddie Lack, likely for the Canucks vs Jonas Hiller for the Flames.
The Vancouver Canucks: Whether or not Vancouver can survive this series will depend largely on whether or not goaltender Ryan Miller will be able to hold the fort; if he cannot, Calgary will win, maybe even easily. When Miller played for the Blues last year, he lost four in a row.
Vancouver has the Sedin twins but I think I like Calgary’s younger talent (Gaudreau, Monahan, Josh Jooris, Markus Granlund) can probably do more damage. I don’t think either of these 2 teams will have much pressure on them, especially considering how surprised I am that I am writing this at playoff time. I predicted early in the season that Canadian teams will definitely make the playoffs, just not these 2 teams.
Henrik and Daniel Sedin are going to have an impact on this series, if they do not, Calgary win cruise easily. Henrik has 69 points, Daniel leads the team with 72 points.
The last three times the Flames and Canucks have met in the post-season, the winner went to the Stanley Cup final.