April 14 2015 04:06PM
This post is part of the Nation Network's Playoff Preview series, running this week at NHLNumbers. For more of our series previews and projections, head over to NHLNumbers.com.
Ah, it sure is good to be back. It's been a year since the Vancouver Canucks were last in the playoffs, but for Calgary, it has been much longer than that - this season puts an end to a streak of five consecutive on the outside looking in come mid-April. And with Vancouver having the most successful period of their (admittedly pretty sad and depressing) franchise history over that same time span, the once red-hot Canucks-Flames rivalry has kind of fizzled to just a spark of what it once was.
The two teams now get a chance to rekindle this rivalry in their first playoff meeting since 2003-2004. How can we expect this series to shake down, and who's going to come out on top? Find out on the other side of the jump.
April 14 2015 11:46AM
The Ottawa Senators and Montreal Canadiens aren't heading into the playoffs in polar opposite directions, but one team has been on fire and the other has been below average. Since the trade deadline passed, the Habs have won 45 percent of their games. The Sens? 72.2 percent.
There are a ton of great storylines in this series, and while it would be tough to argue these two teams will produce the highest quality hockey in the first round, it might produce the most exciting hockey (as seen in the video above).
This series has one of the best goalies in the league going against the hottest goalie in the league, two of the best defensemen in the NHL, possibly hamburgers, and some up and coming good young forwards on each team. Oh, and it’s an all-Canadian match-up.
This should be pretty fun, but let’s take a deeper look to see who will win.
April 13 2015 04:35PM
The Central Division is stacked. All seven of the teams in the division finished the season with at least 90 points and three teams, St. Louis, Chicago, and Nashville, finished in the top seven in the league’s standings. As a result, the matchup between the second and third placed teams in the division looks a lot more like a Western Conference Final than a first round series.
Despite being two of the better team in the NHL, both the Predators and Hawks limped into the playoffs on a pretty ugly losing streak. The Predators haven’t earned a win in six games, dating back to March 28, while the Hawks lost their final four games of the season in regulation. Basically, this series will come down to which team can figure it out and get back to playing how they did for the majority of the regular season.
Who wins between the Central Division foes? Let’s take a look.
April 13 2015 01:00PM
Weighed down by a mess of injuries along their blue line, the Pittsburgh Penguins, who were eliminated by the New York Rangers a year ago, sagged down the stretch and are limping into the Stanley Cup playoffs in a wild card spot. The Rangers meanwhile won the Presidents' Trophy despite injuries to key contributors like Derek Stepan and Henrik Lundqvist, and have been as resilient and polished as anyone in the league all year.
Who will win when they face-off this week in an all-Metropolitan division first-round Stanley Cup playoff series over the next two weeks?
April 13 2015 08:00AM
Jamie Benn finished the season on Saturday night with a four point effort to pull himself ahead of John Tavares and Sidney Crosby in the 2014-15 Art Ross Trophy race. Benn finished the year with 35 goals and 52 assists, good for 87 points. Obviously I don’t want to take anything away from Benn’s phenomenal season, but leading the league with 87 points seem pretty strange. In fact, it’s the lowest league leading total the NHL has seen in a season that wasn’t derailed by a lockout since Stan Mikita won the Art Ross with 40 goals and 47 assists in 1967-68. Benn’s strangely low scoring title marks a trend in the NHL that we haven’t seen since before the 2004-05 lockout.
There’s tons of factors that could go into why this season saw a really low scoring title race, but it seems the major factor in decreased scoring throughout the league has been the result of fewer penalties being called year after year. We’re a far cry from Joe Thornton’s 2005-06 MVP and Art Ross campaign largely because we’ve seen the average power play opportunity figure nearly chopped in half over that time.
Let’s take a look.