Eastern Conference Preview – Quarterfinals
#1 Montreal Canadiens vs. #8 Carolina Hurricanes
Offense: The Habs have been a dominant force all year, riding the superstars of Seguin, Zetterberg, Galchenyuk, and Kovalchuk. They also have solid secondary pieces in Hartnell, Richards, and Bozak. The Canes aren’t as top loaded, but do sport some very good players in Staal, Semin, and Tarasenko. In terms of secondary scoring, and depth, the Canes are a force. Foligno, Bolland, Cogliano, Kruger to name a few are some of the pieces that drive this Canes team forward. The offense is a push. Habs scored 258 regular season goals, Canes 249. Nearly dead even.
Defense: The Habs are loaded with two way defensemen. Subban, Beaulieu, and Edler all chip in on offense and defense. Muzzin is more of their stay at home player, but even he has some offense to his game. The Canes meanwhile are more of the stay at home type. OEL and Franson provide some offense, but Hjalmarsson, Boychuk, Grossman are more of the stay home and play physical type defensemen. Habs allowed 207 goals, partly due also to who their goalie is, where the Canes let up 249. Edge here to Montreal.
Goaltending: Cary Price vs. Jonas Hiller. No knock on Hiller at all, but the edge here goes to Montreal. Price is one of the best OSHL goalies, and he has been the driving force behind Montreal being so successful.
Series Prediction: The Habs got a tough draw Round 1, but I think they have enough to move on. Habs win 4-2.
#2 Philadelphia Flyers vs. #7 Tampa Bay Lightning
Offense: The Fly-guys sport elite players all around. Kane, Kane, Voracek. Solid secondary players in Kadri, Reinhart, Hossa, and Jensen. The Lightning were counted on being a top 3 basement team this year. Adding a few veterans has helped push this team forward. Giroux is the Lightning staple, and added in was Krejci, Ladd, Pominville, and Horton. Both teams have solid players, but I like the Flyers just a bit more. Flyers scored 266 goals (3rd highest in OSHL), where the Bolts scored 241. Slight edge to Philly.
Defense: The Flyers have a very strong defense, relying on the stay at home guys like Methot and Morrow, and the two way players in Lindholm, Bouwmeester, and Enstrom. The Lightning will need Bieksa and Bigras on top of their game big time in order to slow down the Flyers potent offense. I like Philly’s defense here.
Goaltending: Steve Mason vs. Andrey Vasilevskiy. Mason is solid, and Vasilevskiy on talent alone is the better goalie. Will experience beat out talent? What Mason has going for him was that the Flyers have a better defense, and only allowed 227 goals. The Lightning struggle a bit keeping the puck out of their net, and let up 266 goals. I do think Andrey steals at least one game in this series. Push.
Series Prediction: The Lightning shocked us all by even making the postseason. Very admirable. Sadly, they are facing a team that I think at this stage, is just better. Flyers better not take the Bolts easy, but I see a 4-1 Flyers win here.
#3 Florida Panthers vs. #6 Toronto Maple Leafs
Offense: Will Stamkos come back and butt rape GM Jennings? I just got all tingly thinking about that. Anyways, back to hockey. The Leafs and Panthers made one of, if not the biggest OSHL Trade ever. The Leafs will look for their offensive Dynamo in Stamkos to dominate his former team. Gaudreau should be looking for payback as well. Hodgson and Gallagher also could pose some problems for the Cats. Florida has been on a massive retool this season, adding guys like Burmistrov, Johansen, Schwartz, Eberle, and Yakupov. Both teams are solid offensively, but the Cats have had issues scoring, putting up 244 on the year. The Leafs put up 258. Slight edge to the Leafs.
Defense: Overall Florida has an extremely young defensive core. Pietrangelo was the piece the Panthers wanted badly, and he has been amazing. Murray, Seabrook, and Hamilton aren’t slouches either. Jax went out and got himself a true #1 in Faulk, adding onto Shattenkirk, and the recently moved Trouba. Goals allowed by both teams was very similar this year, but I think Florida has a slightly better defense all around.
Goaltending: Antti Niemi vs. Kari Lehtonen. Niemi has a cup. Both are older, experienced, and have the same similar skills. No real edge here for either team.
Series Prediction: Considering Jax is an asshole, and I hate him, I’m not picking his team. F the Leafs. Go Cats Go. Florida wins 4-3.
#4 New York Islanders vs. #5 New York Rangers
Offense: The Isles boast some studs like Tavares, Erikson, Carter, and have a stacked secondary in Cammalleri, Sutter, Couturier, and Okposo. The Rangers are with a new GM, who will try to steer things in the right direction. Perry, Staal, Ritchie and Ennis will need to be on their game to help the Rags win. Both teams scored similarly this year, so slight edge here to Isles offense.
Defense: The defense may be the difference in this series. Isles let up 228 goals, while Rangers let up 253 goals. The Isles have a great mix of offensive dmen, and defensive dmen, and virtually all their defense does both at least somewhat decently. The Rangers, outside of Josi and Brodin, may suffer a bit. I like the Isles defense more.
Goaltending: Ryan Miller/Frederik Anderson vs. Braden Holtby. This could be the Isles undoing. If one of the goalies doesn’t step up and play well, it could turn into a goalie rotation, which rarely ever wins. Considering the Isles had a better defense/goaltending this year, slight edge to the Isles.
Series Prediction: The Isles need a goalie to step up, and I think one of them does, so I’m taking Isles to win 4-2.
Western Conference Preview – Quarterfinals
#1 Minnesota Wild vs. #8 Colorado Avalanche
Offense: The Wild are going to lean on Toews to pave the way to victory. Along with Toews, Skinner, Pacioretty, and Huberdeau will be a wrecking ball for the Avs defense and goaltending. The Avs can match fire with fire, as they will look at Backstrom, Kesler, Ryan, Marleau, and Kessel to get past the vaunted Wild defense. Both teams have the offense to score, but the Wild are just a bit better, almost outscoring the Avs by 30 goals in the regular season. Slight edge to Minnesota.
Defense: The Wild boast one of, if not the best defensemen in the league. Suter is a flat out beast. And outside of him, Orlov, Hamonic, and Kindl can hold their own. The Avs don’t have the elite #1 defensemen like Minnesota, but they do have a very good group with Bogo, Fowler, Dillon, and Krug. The Wild though are a clearly better, letting in almost 50 goals less than the Avs. Edge to the Wild.
Goaltending: King Henrik vs. Ben Bishop. Nothing against Bishop, because I do like him, but not many are going to compete with King Hank. Edge to Wild.
Series Prediction: The Avalanche got into the playoffs, but had the worst possible draw. The Wild are too good all around to lose this series. I see the Wild winning this one 4-2.
#2 Anaheim Ducks vs. #7 Arizona Coyotes
Offense: Anaheim may be the best offensive team in the playoffs. Spezza, Jenner, Datsuyk at center, Buff and Pearson at LW, Wheeler, Schenn at RW. Nearly 3 lines of stars. That is going to be a serious challenge for the Yotes. The lone star on the Coyotes is Parise. There are some solid pieces on the team, like Johnson, Lazar, Kucherov, but this team isn’t as stacked offensively as the Ducks. Edge to the Ducks.
Defense: You’d think, a stacked offense, they must be hurting elsewhere. Well, its not on defense. The Ducks have the best defensemen in the game in Shea Weber, plus Karlsson, Kulikov, and Stone. A formidable top 4. The Coyotes made waves offering McDonagh a $55 million contract, and you can say he’s been one of the key factors in the Coyotes finally making the playoffs. Behind him, MDZ, Martinez, and Depres will need to be on point to stop the Ducks high flying offense. Edge here to the Ducks.
Goaltending: Jimmy Howard vs Jhonas Enroth. Well obviously, Howard is the better goalie. But Enroth has put up a respectable season on a Coyotes team that is trending up. He had some ups and downs, but he also had some serious hot stretches. He will need that again for the Yotes to advance. Slight edge to the Ducks though.
Series Prediction: The Cinderella story of the Coyotes ends early folks. A nice season, something to build on moving forward, but this team isn’t ready to compete with the big boys. Ducks win this series 4-1.
#3 Edmonton Oilers vs. #6 Winnipeg Jets
Offense: The Oilers, for multiple seasons, have been an offensive team. RNH, Hall, Nash, Forsberg are all young solid players. Scheifele may be the most underrated player in the sim, putting up a whopping 36 goals and 30 assists. The Jets made a lot of moves this year, and will rely on Eller, JVR, Silfverberg, and Simmonds to get the scoring done. I like the Oilers offense a bit more, and I like their overall depth a bit more. Slight edge to the Oilers.
Defense: The Oilers have one of the best defensemen in Letang, as well as young upcoming star Matheson, veteran hard hitting Nikitin, and Meszaros. The Jets will look for Spurgeon, Schenn, Ehrhoff, Prout, and a few others in their defensive rotation to slow down the Oilers. Neither defense impresses me much, but I think the Oilers are a tad better from top to bottom. Slight edge to the Oilers.
Goaltending: Pekka Rinne vs. Jonathan Bernier/Jarsoslav Halak. It appears that Bernier will get the nod, and though hes not quite as solid as Rinne, he is a true starting goaltender and should steal a game I think. Rinne was signed by Edmonton this season, and he has put up decent, but not spectacular numbers. The Oilers will need Rinne to be better to advance far in the playoffs. Slight edge to the Oilers.
Series Prediction: The Oilers were the 4th best offense, where the Jets were the 5th best defense. I think the Oilers are just a bit better at this juncture, so Oilers win 4-2 and move on.
#4 Los Angeles Kings vs. #5 St Louis Blues
Offense: Jumbo Joe, Geno, Ovie, Teravainen, and Sedin. The main offensive weapons for the Kings. The number one offense this season. Leading scorer Malkin, who outscored the #2 player by almost 30 points. Oh, and the #2 player in scoring? Ovechkin. Unbelievable. The defending champs have their work cut out for them. Kopitar, O”Reilly, Sharp, Oshie, Backes. All are solid on both ends of the ice. The Blues will need their forwards big time to slow down this Kings offense. I cant knock the Kings so I’m giving a slight advantage here to the Kings.
Defense: If the Kings have a problem, its keeping the puck out of the net. I’m not impressed with their defense as a unit at all. The Blues meanwhile have Doughty, Staal, and Giordano. And all 3 better be ready to stop the powerhouse Kings offense. I like the Blues defense more, so edge here to the Blues.
Goaltending: Semyon Varlamov vs. Jonathan Quick. Quick is a top 3 OSHL goalie. Won the cup last year with almost the same Blues squad. He’s better than Varlamov as well. I think Greg is going to see that Quick never liked being moved out of LA, and he is going to step up huge for the Blues. Edge to the Blues.
Series Prediction: This is one of the most entertaining series I think to follow. Will the offense of the Kings continue? Will the Blues shutdown this high scoring group? Will Quick get some revenge on LA for moving him out? I think the Blues are going to prevail and win this series 4-3.
Hagelin - MacKinnon - Virtanen
Fabbri - Barkov - Paajarvi
Haula - Draisaitl - Vecchione
Kerdiles - Gagner - Tuch
Pietrangelo - Morin
Murray - Jones
Provorov - Werenski