April 13 2017 01:04PM
This is part of a playoff preview series based at NHLNumbers.com
While some of the playoff landscape is not quite what we've been used to -- welcome back, Leafs and Oilers -- we're at least in familiar territory with the Central Division. Stop me if you've heard this before: The Chicago Blackhawks coasted to a first place finish in the Central (and the Western Conference) and will face the second wild card in the first round. This year, the second wild card happens to be the Nashville Predators.
April 13 2017 10:16AM
Here ye, here ye, let me tell you the tale of David and Goliath. In the words of the ancient prophet who hails from Toronto, Drake, the Toronto Maple Leafs "started from the bottom, now we here". The Maple Leafs finished in last place, and despite upgrading their goaltending and goal scoring, with those being their biggest problems in their last place finish, many still picked the Leafs to finish bottom five. However, they proved everyone wrong (except Jeff Veillette), on route to their best season in the cap era, thanks to young rookies Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, and William Nylander.
Meanwhile, the Washington Capitals had another Goliath season, with their second consecutive Presidents trophy. And as if the team wasn't good enough, they added Kevin Shattenkirk at the deadline to an already stacked team. They had a slight bump after that, but are red hot going into the post season to face the inexperienced Maple Leafs.
April 13 2017 08:00AM
The Flames and the Ducks! What a classic matchup! Right? Right?!
The Calgary Flames come in featuring a lineup of Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, and "18-year-old" Sam Bennett, while the Anaheim Ducks sport an older contingent of Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan Kesler, and Corey Perry as their core trio.
While neither team gets their rival matchup in Edmonton and San Jose, the teams get to fight it out against one another in a season where both teams were quite uncertain of their expectations going into it.
The teams have no playoff history in recent times as they haven't played since 2005-06, when the Ducks were still going by the "Mighty" moniker. The Ducks won that series in seven games, that also took place in the first round. The Ducks lost to the Oilers, who then made it all the way to Game Seven of the Stanley Cup Finals. I'm not sure what happened, but I don't think they've won the Cup since 1990.
April 12 2017 04:44PM
Two teams that just plain old don't like one another face-off tonight.
The Blue Jackets and the Penguins are Metro division rivals who both finished with above 100 points on the season. What do they get for their troubles? A rough and tumble first round match up against one another.
Who emerges victorious?
April 12 2017 02:45PM
Ladies and gents, we have ourselves a choke-off.
In one corner, we have the Minnesota Wild, who in four years of making the playoffs, have a grand total of two wins past the first round. In the other corner, we have the St. Louis Blues, who in five years of making the playoffs, finally made it to the Conference Finals last year. Both teams have reputations that they don't want, and this series is a great place to start. The Blues are in a transition period, while the Wild are looking at a closing window.