Series 1: Montreal Canadiens vs Ottawa Senators
C: Possibly my favorite of all the underdog teams, Ottawa is the first team to ever overcome a 14 point deficit to make it into the playoffs. And they did it on the back of their rookie goaltender, Andrew Hammond, nicknamed “the Hamburglar”, and Mark Stone, another rookie who is probably going to get snubbed for the Calder (not that Stars fans know what that’s like or anything). It’s basically the best narrative going into playoffs, and they were directly responsible for Boston’s precipitous fall from grace, so I have a lot of love for this Ottawa team. That said….
Realistically, Hammond is an untested goaltender (24 games) who has had beyond phenomenal numbers (.941 Sv%) that is getting matched up against Carey “probably winning the Vezina and the Hart” Price.
Montreal is probably my least favorite team on the list, statistically, as they’ve had abysmal possession numbers all year, and have been riding their hot goaltending to wins.
M: Riding their hot goaltender.
C: If only we were all so lucky.
ANYWAY. Montreal’s 20th in goals per game, but they’re ridiculously good at locking down a lead – 2nd in winning % when they score first.
M: This is the matchup that my dad and I watched in my first playoffs, when there were 236 penalty minutes in one game. Ottawa’s relying on a rookie goaltender right now, but Montreal is relying solely on Carey Price without giving him a lot of defensive support or scoring assistance. IDEK y’all.
Carolyn’s Prediction: Montreal in 6
Merrin’s Prediction: Ottawa in 7
Beards To Watch: PK Subban, Andrew Hammond (Ginger Alert!), Eric Gryba (full Brent Burns style)
Series 2: Tampa Bay Lightening vs Detroit Red Wings
C: Ugh, I don’t even care.
M: Tampa BAE. I care because Bae Bishop and Ryan Callanbae. I mean. I care a little. Also Sam Gagner was on their team for that 40 minutes that one time.
C: Good point, I’ll probably root for them for that trade alone. Ok, well, statistically, Tampa’s offense should scare everyone, as they’re the only team that has managed to put up more Goals Per Game than the Stars (3.16) but they managed to keep their goals against to a much more reasonable 2.51. They have a top 10 Penalty Kill, but are weak on the Power Play (which means most of those goals are scored 5v5).
On the other hand, Detroit is a monster on the Power Play, second only to the Caps, but their biggest weakness is in net. They started the season with Jimmy Howard, but he went out for awhile with injury and hasn’t been posting the same numbers since (currently sitting at 0.922 Sv%). Instead, they’re throwing out Petr Mrazek for starts recently, and while he’s been posting an impressive 0.931 Sv%, he’s only 22 and has played 29 games this season. It’s a larger sample than most back up goalies get, but with no playoff experience, he’s still an unknown variable.
M: So I just looked at NHL stats and the Red Wings are 3rd in the league in winning when the other team scores first. ON THE OTHER HAND, Tampa is 10th in the same scenario. Look, I looked at a stat chart.
C: I’m so proud. *wipes away a tear* (And it means that the Red Wings are better at coming from behind)
M: (Yeah I figured that one out, thanks.)
Carolyn’s Prediction: Tampa Bay in 7
Merrin’s Prediction: Tampa Bae in 6
Beards To Watch: Brian Boyle’s pirate mustache, Henrik Zetterberg (even MORE beard!)
Series 3: New York Rangers v Pittsburgh Penguins
M: Raaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaangers. President’s Trophy winners, which means unless they’re the Hawks in 2013 they’re probably going out first round. #DontTouchThePresidentsTrophy
C: I mean, basically. The Pens are a shell of the team they could be right now, thanks to literally everyone who goes into that locker room turning to glass. They ran 5 Dmen deep on a game WHEN THEY WEREN’T EVEN IN A CLINCHED PLAYOFF SPOT.
M: They’re 5th in man games lost, actually, behind another playoff team. The Ducks have more than them.
C: I’m not huge on the Rangers, but with Letang out (rest of the season), Ehrhoff out (returning at some point, maybe???) and the slew of rotating injuries to their bottom 6 group, the Penguins are lacking the depth to make any real run except through voodoo.
M: Plus Crosby seems to not be Crosby right now. Still great, but not what he could be.
C: He AND Malkin have been out with injury already a few times this season, and that never spells good things for the Pens.
What does look interesting in this series is the goaltending match ups. Marc-Andre Fleury is quietly having one of his best seasons, posting a 0.926 Sv% and really doing a lot of work to bail out his flailing team. Lundqvist hasn’t had nearly the workload this year, going out for months after a horrific incident when he took a puck to the throat, so he still has some kinks to work out in his game. That said, he’s still posting Lundqvistian numbers, with a 0.93 Sv% over 46 games played. The Rangers have also proven they have depth in goal, with their back up, Cam Talbot, playing 36 games and posting a 0.93 Sv% as well.
M: Rangers fans were already lamenting their missed playoff chances when Lundqvist went out. And look at them now.
Carolyn’s Prediction: Rangers in 5
Merrin’s Prediction: Rangers in 5
Beards to Watch: Lundqvist, Martin St Louis (Touch of Grey), Malkin (lack of beard), Marc Staal (Ginger Alert!), Pascal Dupuis (Honorable Mention – Get Well Soon!)
Series 4: Washington Capitals vs New York Islanders
M: I wonder how pissed Tavares is that he played before Jamie on Saturday.
C: We’ll never know because he’s incapable of showing emotion.
M: I’m so excited to be in the Olympics. Yeah. It’s a huge honor. [read in monotone]
C: The Islanders seemed to be a lock for the President’s Trophy earlier in the year, as they were steamrolling over everyone, but seemed to lose the plot in the last few months. On Feb 1st, their record was 32-16-1. Since then they went 15-12-6, taking them from first in their division to a very precarious 3rd as the Pens nipped at their heels.
M: The Isles should try not to take any penalties the entire series, because (as previously mentioned) Caps Power Play is deadly.
C: And with a 4th line that includes Matt “Leads the League In Hits” Martin, that might be a little difficult.
M: ffffffffffffffffffffffffff that guy. I’m still pissed about the knee-on-knee with Daley.
C: Yup. This is going to be a great series, I think. You’ve got two top 5 Scorers as captains (Ovechkin vs Tavares) and two of the best goaltending stories this year as well (Holtby vs Halak). The Caps and the Isles actually tied in total points over the regular season, so they’re extremely well matched.
M: Plus the Isles have former Hawks teen dream Nick Leddy.
C: And Johnny Boychuk, who played with the Bruins in their playoff runs. So they have some good experience.
M: And who the Bruins never replaced, which is part of what led to their current predicament. (That being missing the playoffs LOLOLOLOL.)
C: On the other hand, both Ovechkin and his heterolifemate Backstrom have run deep in the playoffs before, too. And Backstrom’s top 10 in scoring, too. Tavares’s best liney, Okposo, has been back from IR for awhile, but his production has tailed off. Halak is good, but I don’t know if he’s good enough to bail them out night after night against such a high powered offense. Neither team has much of a back up goalie to speak of.
Carolyn’s Prediction: Capitals in 7
Merrin’s Prediction: Capitals in 5
Beards to Watch: Holtby (goalie beard is already impressive), Leddy, Wilson & Latta (they make Really Terrible Choices), Troy Brouwer (will be full on the first day)