16 teams. One goal. To win 4 straight best of seven series and be crowned the Stanley Cup Champions. It’s one of the toughest prizes in all of sports to win. And for the 4th straight year, the Canucks have nothing to do with it. So we gathered the Nucks Misconduct scribes together and asked them who they like in each of the 8 opening round series. As always, we’d love to see your picks and why in the comments.
TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING (1) vs COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS (WC2)
Kent Basky - I suppose if you had money to burn, you could go down to Vegas and plunk some ‘Why the hell not?’ cash down on an upset here, but only if you really don’t care about throwing away money. Yeah, the Lightning are scary good. They also lost to the Vancouver Canucks in regulation once this year, and that tells me that if this team doesn’t show up on every given night, they can be beat. They seem so primed for an upset, and I love me an underdog. The problem is John Tortorella’s gang will need a miracle to get out of this alive and I don’t think it happens. LIGHTNING IN 5
Kyle Westy - Lightning in 5
Columbus and Trots are no match for this team of skill. Maybe if both Tampa goalies get hurt and Stamkos can’t step in net, Columbus might win.
jimmi.cynic - Lightning in 3
Ok, fine, stretch it out to 4 or 5. For Bob. However, it might even go to 6, just for media ‘adversity’ purposes. Tampa is on a date with destiny. Or her child. While it would be fun (for us) to watch the Bolts sweep every series, the NHLOA would not like it - so expectations and games will be managed.
Trevor Connors - 128 points. The Tampa Bay Lightning put up 128 points this season. 128 points. Nikita Kucherov put up 128 points this season. To put that in perspective, remember the absolutely DOMINANT regular season that the Canucks put up in 2010-11? They managed a PATHETIC 117 points that season. C’mon... the Bolts win this thing in a wash unless Sergei Bobrovsky decides to give a damn. As Bob goes, so do the Blue Jackets. I’ll give him a game, maybe two that he steals... but i’m predicting LIGHTNING IN 5.
Beggsy - Hard to pick against the best team in the league, and I surely won’t be doing that here. The only chance the Jackets have is if Sergei Bobrovsky steals the series. I do think he can steal a game or two, and I’m giving Columbus an extra win compared to the rest of my NM compadres. Lightning in 6.
BOSTON BRUINS (2) vs TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS (3)
Kent Basky - Last year the Bruins needed a full seven games to take down the Leafs. This Leafs team is better than the one that lost last season, and carrying a chip on their shoulders because let’s face it, no one believes they can actually beat the Bruins. They may not be better than the Bruins defensively, but they can go toe to toe when it comes to scoring goals. The Bruins big line will have to be stopped, and they’ll need to get scoring by committee, but I think this is the year the Leafs advance. MAPLE LEAFS IN 7
Kyle Westy - BOS in 6
This series has happened a few times over the past couple years and it’s impossible to cheer for either one. The good news is that Tampa can beat either team quite easily in the next round.
Trevor Connors - Probably the most distasteful series on the schedule from a Canucks fan perspective. If both teams could beat each other into submission and give Tampa a bye in round two, I don’t think you’d hear much arguing amongst Canucks fans. Still, the hockey in this series should be fantastic. Both the Leafs and Bruins play fast, exciting hockey and this series will be front and center on all our television screens thanks to the fine (and certainly UNBIASED) folks at Rogers. The Bruins are probably the stronger team, but I’m going with the upset by picking MAPLE LEAFS IN 6.
jimmi.cynic - Neither in 4
I predict this series will go the full 7 games plus 101+ OT periods. Not because the teams are evenly-matched, but because the advertising revenue for the Toronto team owners, media consortium led by Rogers, would make the Leafs even more important than any black hole in the universe. That’s gravitas you can’t put a price on. But they will. So Laffs in 7, after 107 OT periods.
Beggsy - Ahhhh, it’s that time of year where Canucks fans get to watch two of their least favourite teams beat the crap out of each other....expect this is 2019 so that doesn’t really happen anymore.
The Leafs defence has been a disaster for most of the season, but their offence will win them a couple of games. Still, this is one of the best Bruins teams we’ve seen since (gulp) 2011... Bruins in 6.
WASHINGTON CAPITALS (1) vs CAROLINA HURRICANES (WC 1)
Kent Basky- The defending champs avoided a slide that can come after the cathartic release of winning one’s first Cup (well, I am just assuming this is a thing. Pretty sure that happened to Carolina, right?). And while they’re not the favorites, they certainly aren’t a team that can be written off. Their opponents are a bunch of jerks. The Carolina Hurricanes are the feel-good story of not just the NHL but professional sports. They’re fun, and they as big a Cinderella story as you will find this year. I want to believe, but I think the Caps might bring the Jerk Show to a close. Maybe. Not confident in this pick at all (hedge that bet, man) because I would love to see Don Cherry lose it. CAPITALS IN 7
Kyle Westy- WASH in 6
I’m not sure how Carolina got into the playoffs, but I’m pretty sure that Ovie shows them the way out.
jimmi - WASH in 5
One flooding win cellie and done. Carolina is going in a good direction. Early first round exit. If only the Caps could borrow Bo for a round, then it would be WASH in 4.
Trevor Connors - A Bunch of Drunks versus a Bunch of Jerks... it’s like a Saturday night in Surrey. As great a feel good story as the Hurricanes have been this season, the clock always strikes midnight on Cinderella. The depth, experience and sheer talent of the Capitals will be too much for the Hurricanes to handle. Here’s hoping they get at least one or two victories on home ice though so they can bring back the Storm Surge. Having said that... CAPITALS IN 5.
Beggsy: Props to Trevor Connors for slipping a Surrey joke into this post. Makes me yearn for some Canucks playoff hockey on Scott Road.
Let’s hope we don’t turn into the Hurricanes, which would mean another five years without playoffs...I do think the Hurricanes can challenge Washington in this series. Their quicker and more dominant at five-on-five for every possession metric.
The one area where Washington is better at five-on-five? Scoring. They don’t need many chances with the embarrassment of talent on this team. The Capitals had the best shooting percentage at even-strength, where hard-working Carolina was way down at 28%. Talent wins out here. Caps in 6.
NEW YORK ISLANDERS (2) vs PITTSBURGH PENGUINS (3)
Kent Basky - If there actually is a hockey god (and we’re likely to find that out Tuesday at the Draft Lottery), then she will give us what we need: a first round Penguins exit and a series that features the Islanders facing the Leafs. Much like the Bruins, we’re all a little tired of Pittsburgh being successful, and having planted the defensive time bomb that is Erik Gudbranson in their midst, perhaps the Isles can dismantle Sidney Crosby and the rest of the Penguins. ISLANDERS IN 6
Kyle Westy - PITT in 7
This series might be the one I watch. The Pens were able to regroup and get into the playoffs after a stinky 60 games. The Islanders without Tavares is a feel good story. Crosby/Malkin is just too much for Lehner to stop.
Trevor Connors - Assuming my prediction about the Leafs upsetting the Bruins comes true, we could be blessed/cursed with a John Tavares vs New York Islanders matchup in round two. For no other reason and because I guess it’s annoying how much Sidney Crosby wins, I’ll go with the Isles here. Actually... could you imagine the amount of coverage JT vs the NYI would get from the Toronto media? No thanks. Scratch all that... PENGUINS IN 6.
Beggsy - I’m still not fully believing in the Islanders, but I do believe in whatever the hell Barry Trotz has done this year. Still, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin will be too much for the Isles to handle. Pens in 6.
jimmi - Pens in 5
Sid and the kids aren’t getting any younger. They will minimise physical wear and tear by eliminating this upstart youthful team as early as TV revenues will permit.
NASHVILLE PREDATORS (1) vs DALLAS STARS (WC2)
Kent Basky- This BBQ battle should be on the Food Network, but it won’t be on for long. Nashville would love dearly to get another trip to the Finals and they’re gonna take out on a Dallas team that’s really not much better than 4 or 5 of the teams that finished beneath them in the West. Unfortunately for Jamie Benn and the Stars, they’re going down. PREDATORS IN 5
Kyle Westy- NASH in 5
I can’t watch this battle of US teams. Both crowds sing at every opportunity.....blech.
Trevor Connors - Finally out West. I’ll be honest, this is a tough one to choose. I’ve liked the makeup of the Preds’ roster for a few seasons now and they’ve been my annual Cup pick since about 2016. BUT... don’t look now but Ben Bishop has been absolutely phenomenal down the stretch for the Stars. He’s been playing in pressure packed games and he’s allowed just seven goals total in his last 10 games. Again, I like the Preds, but what I like even more is a good upset so that’s why I’m choosing STARS IN 7.
Beggsy - This won’t be a fun matchup for the Preds, facing a Stars team that doesn’t give up a ton of chances. Everyone talks about the big four on Nashville’s defence, but the Stars’ big three of John Klingberg, Esa Lindell and Miro Heiskanen is nothing to sneeze at.
Still, the Predators are a much deeper team on offence. Unless Tyler Seguin goes Ryan Kesler against the Preds, it’s Nashville moving onto Round Two. Preds in 6.
jimmi - NASH in 6
While it would be satisfying to watch Carrie shed a few tears, prefer the Preds to topple the pretend dynasty from Dallas. Like Westy, I won’t watch this battle of US teams. Not just because of all the bad singing. Although that it is on a very long list of rah-rah-rahness that US TV will exploit to best nauseating effect.
WINNIPEG JETS (2) vs ST LOUIS BLUES (3)
Kent Basky- I know everyone is drunk on the Blues right now, and the way they turned around their season is truly remarkable. It doesn’t guarantee anything though, and as we’ve seen in the past, red hot teams heading in can go ice cold, especially with a rookie in the crease who’s going to be facing pressure unlike any he’s ever faced. The Jets have been fumbling along, but this team is too good to not win a round at least. JETS IN 6
Kyle Westy- Blues in 7
I was hoping this was Winnipeg’s year, but the Blues got hot at the right time.
Trevor Connors - I like the Jets. I want to cheer for the Jets. I just feel like whenever the stakes have risen, the Jets have fallen. Connor Hellebuyck is THE key to this entire series. If Blues rookie Jordan Binnington outplays Hellebuyck like he has with almost every other goaltender in the NHL during the back half of this season then the Blues win this in a wash. If Hellebuyck decides to turn back the clock 14 months, then we’ve got a series. I’m just not confident that he’s got it in him right now so I’ll predict BLUES IN 7.
Beggsy - Kent is right, everyone is drunk on the Blues right now...including me.
Winnipeg is clearly the more stacked team on offence, but even then, their game at five-on-five wasn’t great this season. They tend to rely on power plays, which isn’t a great recipe for success against a Blues team that ranked 24th overall in penalty minutes this season.
The Blues have the better defence and goaltending at the moment. While that could change in a instant, I’m riding the hot-hand to Round Two. Blues in 7.
jimmi - Jets in 6
Because Kent and I were left as the sole supporters of “Canada’s Team”, must drive down to Portage and Main with the sign waving “The Blue Peaked Too Soon” - never mind that the Jets peaked around Xmas. The Peg are due for another peak. Hopefully this month, not next Xmas.
CALGARY FLAMES (1) vs COLORADO AVALANCHE (WC 1)
Kent Basky- As much as it pains me to say it, here goes: The Calgary Flames are really good. Are they Stanley Cup good? Probably not, but with a little help, some luck and good goaltending they could go on a run. Their first task is a team that can roll with them when it comes to scoring. It’s gonna come down to which team has the hot goalie and I would say, even with the knowledge one of these teams has Mike Smith, it’s still gonna be Calgary, but this will be a fun series to watch. FLAMES IN 6
Kyle Westy- Flames in 6
I hate predicting a Calgary win. Unfortunately Colorado only has one scoring line.
Trevor Connors - Ugh... the Calgary Flames are good, guys. Like actually REALLY good. I don’t wanna even think about it. FLAMES IN 5.
Beggsy - I wish I had the gonads like my Silky N’ Filthy co-host Kyle Bhawan, who picked the Avs to win in 7. Calgary is a deep team on offence, which is their biggest edge in the series. However, I’m not sold on the goaltending, nor the defence after Mark Giordano and Noah Hanifin.
While a Flames win would make most of Canucks nation want to puke, this has the potential to be one of the most fun series of Round One. These two teams combined for 24 goals in three games this season, and there’s a good chance that both offences keep rolling in the playoffs. Still, it’s the Flames series to lose. Flames in 6.
jimmi - Avs in 6
First round upset? Check. NucksNation schadenfreude? Check. The only way I’d condone a Flames win is if they played the Boo-urns in the first round. HNIC, however, have already scheduled a Flames/Leafs SCF. Fortunately, it’s only a tentative 5,000 hour special series broadcast 24/7 through August. You wanted to know what brand of nail clippers Tavares uses before each game? Now you can!
VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS (2) vs SAN JOSE SHARKS (3)
Kent Basky- One thing is for sure: Vegas isn’t gonna surprise anyone this time around. We all now know this team is legit. They should be able to handle a very good Sharks team that simply isn’t getting the kind of goaltending it needs to go on another long run. If they do, this could be a coin toss, but I don’t think San Jose can pull this off. GOLDEN KNIGHTS IN 6
Kyle Westy- Vegas in 7
This might be the series the ends Doug Wilson. He has assembled a team that should go far and yet might never leave Vegas.
Trevor Connors - This is THE series that I’ll be most interested in following. Both the Sharks and the Knights play with speed and both teams have a heavy forecheck. The Sharks obviously have the edge on the blueline and the Knights obviously have the edge in goal. This series is shaping up to provide us with some excellent hockey. There’s a bit of a built in rivalry given the teams’ second round series from last post-season. I’ll be honest, my heart is pulling me in two directions on this, as is my head so here’s what I’m doing... I’m calling 7 games and I’m flipping a coin. Gimme a min here... okay... found a loonie... flipping aaaaaaaaaad SHARKS IN 7.
Beggsy - Perhaps I’m too negative on the Sharks here, but I think their roster will have a hell of a time keeping up with the high-flying Vegas Golden Knights. If there are two x-factors for the Sharks, it’s Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson. Can those two continuously drive play on offence? If not, the Golden Knights will skate circles around this aging Sharks team.
In fact, I think that’s exactly what they’ll do. Golden Knights in 5.
jimmi - Vegas in 6
Not just because the ferocious puck-hounding Stolen Knights are fun to watch (when we’re not playing them), but because the long suffering fans in Vegas have waited too long for the half billion dollar franchise to deliver the Cup they were assured was included in the entry fee. Also because SJ is not permitted by NM Fairness in Hockey Policy to advance past the first round ever again until the Stanley Puck is rolling down Davies.