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.
April 12 2016 11:28AM
On the seventh of every month (well, the 12th this month because things happen and I wanted to wait for the season to end), I'm going to go through and break down each team in the league, determining which teams are legitimate and which ones aren't, who's had terrible luck and who's riding something unsustainable to success, and where each team is likely to finish the season. Yes, you can look at the league's standings to see who's doing well and who isn't, but there's more to success than just a team's record. Over the past couple months, I looked at where teams stood heading into the deadline and what they should be doing, and after that, I looked at who did well at the deadline and who didn't. This month, to wrap it all up, I'm going to look at which teams had a successful season and which ones ultimately didn't.
With the NHL season coming to an end earlier this week and the Stanley Cup Playoffs approaching right around the corner, I figured it was time to look at which teams can view 2015-16 as a success, and which ones should view it as a failure. This doesn't necessarily come down to how they did in the standings, though. There are some teams who finished well out of a playoff spot, but made major strides from where they were at last year, which would make them successful. On the other hand, there are some teams who made the playoffs, but massively underachieved and have made it evident that they need to make some major changes to their roster moving forward, which makes this season somewhat of a failure. Ultimately, there's good and bad that can be taken from everybody's season, but being a success or a failure comes down to whether the team adequately put themselves in a position to achieve their goals this season.
April 10 2016 08:26AM
For the second time in two years, the Detroit Red Wings have to say goodbye to an integral part of their organization.
After a sudden onset of rumors, media speculation, and vague non-comments, Pavel Datsyuk has confirmed to Mitch Albom of the Detroit Free Press that he intends to go home to Russia after the conclusion of the 2015/2016 NHL Playoffs. "I have overstayed," the 37 year old mentioned. Though there is still to be one final meeting with Red Wings general manager Ken Holland, Datsyuk's mind is all but made up at this point. He wanted to wait until after the regular season was over to release the news, so as to not distract from the intense playoff push that colored the end of the season.