April 13 2016 02:00PM
The battle of the Central Division is here with the St. Louis Blues facing the Chicago Blackhawks. We ask: who will take the series?
Will it be the upward trending Blues carrying a 8-2-0 record in their last ten games played? St. Louis looks strong and poised to succeed where they have failed before, but the Blues have a history of falling short on expectations in the playoffs. Will it be the consistently post-season dominant Blackhawks who can never be counted as out? Chicago is not the dominant team of 2013, but neither were the 2015 Stanley Cup Winning Hawks either.
April 13 2016 01:00PM
The Washington Capitals were the run away favourites of the East. The Philadelphia Flyers, in contrast, squeaked into the playoffs thanks to an unlikely late season charge. This should be one of the biggest mismatches of the 2016 playoffs, but this series may turn out to be closer than what seems apparent when glancing at their regular season results.
April 12 2016 03:18PM
Well, here it is! The Florida Panthers vs. New York Islanders playoff series that we've all been anticipating and gushing over for years!
In one corner, we have the Panthers from Sunrise, Florida, making their fifth playoff appearance in franchise history and their first since 2012. Thanks to excellent play from Roberto Luongo and the ageless wonder Jaromir Jagr, the Panthers had their most successful season in franchise history, and are looking to go on their first major playoff run since they clawed their way to the Cup Final back in 1996. In the other corner, we have the Islanders from Brooklyn, who are looking to do better than they did last year when they lost to the Washington Capitals in seven games. The Islanders haven't won a playoff series since 1993, so regardless of what happens here, somebody's slump is going to be busted.
April 12 2016 02:00PM
Remember when Pittsburgh was looking like they might miss the playoffs? Those days are long gone, and the Penguins hit the ground running after a midseason coaching change as one of the league's hottest teams heading into their first-round matchup with the New York Rangers.
Phil Kessel never scored the 50+ goals some thought he might (he scored 26), but a second-half "rebound" from Sidney Crosby saw him sit third in league scoring and lead a strong playoff push. The team finished with 104 points, good enough for second in the Metropolitan Division. Besides Crosby and Kessel, Evgeni Malkin (when healthy) and Patric Hornqvist added 27 and 22 goals each. The Penguins' 241 goals ranked third in the league.
The Rangers, on the other hand, boasted five 20-goal scorers (Derick Brassard, Mats Zuccarello, JT Miller, Chris Kreider, and Derek Stepan) in one of the more well-balanced attacks in the league, which ranked seventh in total goals. The team had its own surprises throughout the year, as likely the player with the most offensive talent on their team, Rick Nash, picked up just 36 points in 60 games, after potting 42 goals in 79 games the year before. The Rangers picked up 101 points.
Both teams were full of shocks this year, but once the season came to an end, neither team could be too disappointed with their placing in the standings. All in all, the teams come in fairly evenly matched up in their performances this year over 82 games, in what has all the makings of a classic first-round series.
As you'll recall, these teams faced each other in each of the past two playoffs, with the Rangers coming out on top both times in last year's first round (4-1) and in the conference semifinals in 2014 (4-3.)
April 12 2016 01:00PM
Something about this series feels oddly familiar... once again, the Detroit Red Wings and Tampa Bay Lightning will take each other on in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, though it appears that what would have previously been a battle of powerhouses will be a stumble across the finish line. Let's take a closer look at how these two teams stack up.