April 14 2016 02:00PM
The idea of exercising demons is a narrative as traditionally ascribed to the playoffs as any. When you're as successful as the Los Angeles Kings, though, you find you're more often the demon than exorcist. The San Jose Sharks, a consistently dominant regular season club, have yet to take up that mantle.
It's not all that difficult to envision a scenario where the roles are altogether switched. Just two short seasons ago the Sharks held a 3-0 series lead over the Kings in Conference Quarterfinals action. Jonathan Quick bounced back from a moribund three-game stumble and the rest, as they say, was history. San Jose lost that series, and for all intents and purposes, the window to contend too seemed lost. Los Angeles earned a shiny new trophy.
All this is to say that the margin between a Stanley Cup and infamy can be pin-hole small. One game, in fact. There's four such occasions in this series already scheduled and likely another two or three on the horizon. Let's break it down and see which club has the better of the other in this rematch from seasons past.
April 14 2016 01:00PM
It's the battle of the North Stars!
In one corner, we have the Dallas Stars. Often accused of being weak on the backend, this season, they decided not to care and went on to become the best of the West in the regular season, their 50 wins behind only the Washington Capitals. They scored more goals than everybody else with 267, and they also picked up Kris Russell at the deadline, ensuring Calgary would be cheering for them (for the first two rounds, at least).
In the other corner, we have the Minnesota Wild. Making the playoffs with just a paltry 87 points, they beat out the Colorado Avalanche for that final wild card spot in the West, securing it by five whole points. They're well behind the rest of the playoff teams, though - even the Detroit Red Wings have 93 - so their lacklustre regular season may see them in tough in this first round matchup.
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.