Apart from me, a handful of other writers and only the most optimistic/foolish Habs fans, no one saw that upset coming. The East saw a lot of big name star power get kicked out of the bubble, but that’s not to say there’s not some intriguing matchups set for the first round.
Westy - The Flyers looked pretty damn good in their round robin games. The Canadiens were pretty damn...lucky to beat Pittsburgh. Luck has run out. Flyers in 5
Bailey - While I don’t discount what the Habs did in beating the Pens, the Flyers look like a well-oiled machine right now, picking up where they left off in the regular season. I still think Price steals a few games, but it won’t be enough. Flyers in 6
jimmi - The smart money is on the Flyers. I don’t like smart money, because it’s always showing off. So... despite the Flyers being all oiled ‘n stuff, we’ve been in inconceivable territory for months. Le Habs in 7
Rob - The Price is wrong. Flyers in 5
Beggsy - On the one hand, if the Canadiens can beat the Penguins, why can’t they beat the Flyers?
I could see it happening, but I have a harsh Coach Vigneault bias, and I think he finds a way to coach his team to victory. Flyers in 7.
Kent- Back when the Flyers hired Alain Vigneault, our pals at Broad Street Hockey had me on one of their podcasts, panicked at the thought of AV running their bench, after seeing what had become of the Rangers. I told them not to worry, and that he would bring the good times back to Philly. If you hear from them, let them know I accept couriered cheesesteaks (no sesame seed buns though, allergies...). As much fun as it was to see the Habs take down Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Co., it probably isn’t going to happen against this Flyers squad. Flyers in 5
Markus - I understimated the Habs last time but Philly is so much better and they’re my cup pick, so I’ll say Flyers in 5
#2 Lightning vs. #7 Blue Jackets
Westy - This series is going to be a close one. The Lightning have the skill and the talent, while the Blue Jackets have the system in place to make Tampa’s life hard. Tampa has better 3rd and 4th lines this year. Lightning in 6
Bailey - I think some parallels can be drawn here to the Canucks against the Hawks in 2011. The Jackets will bring this series down to the wire against a far more talented team, but ultimately Tampa will exorcise some demons, just barely. Lightning in 7
jimmi - The Lightning have this series in the bag. A bag of all-weather scorpions. If they tale the BJs lightly, (who would?) and play like they like getting bounced two years in a row, it’s over. But they won’t. So... Lightning in 7.
Rob - Tampa slowed by injuries. The Torts’ train rolls on. Blue Jackets in 7
Beggsy - Dream Round One matchup for fans...not so much for Tampa Bay. Can’t wait to see if Tampa learned anything from last year. My guess is that they haven’t. BJs in 6.
Kent- This is a can’t lose series. Rematch of last year, two teams that definitely don’t like each other, and the perpetual circus that is John Tortorella. Either team losing brings some kind of comedic joy to the souls of hockey fans, so sit back and watch this one in all it’s glory. I tossed a coin and it said Lighning in 7, but it stood on edge for an hour before a breeze knocked it over. Just sayin...
Markus - It will be funny if they lose again, but Tampa will be determined as ever. BJs will give them a scare, but Tampa is just too good up front. Tampa Bay in 6
Westy - I don’t know about this series. Washington was missing John Carlson in the round robin and Ovie had trouble getting going. The Isles were cruising, but that was against a Florida team that sucked. Experience may still mean something though. Caps in 7
Bailey - I’m feeling an upset in this one. The Caps didn’t look overly sharp in the round robin, and it seems like age may be catching up with them. The main thing that will push the Islanders ahead, though, is Barry Trotz. He’ll know how to beat his former team, and it’ll be over surprisingly quick. Islanders in 5
jimmi - Gotta go with Bailey on this one. Younger, hungrier team with a coach who knows how to exploit a team that exploited him. Isles in 6.
Rob - Ovi makes the difference. Caps in 7
Beggsy - I’m honestly not a fan of slow, tight-checking teams like the Islanders/BJs beating the Caps and Lightning, but that’s how I see it playing out in Round One. I’m down to be wrong on this one. Isles in 6.
Kent- I think the days of Washington being a sexy pick are gone, with their Cup drought over and their window not nearly as open as it used to be. Much like Boston they didn’t look that impressive in the Round Robin, and they will face a young, fast and hungry Islanders team that will give them all they can handle. It’s a toss up, but I will say Caps in 7, but just barely.
Markus - This one isn’t super interesting. Isles are fine, but I think Caps take it. Caps in 6
#4 Bruins vs. #5 Hurricanes
Westy - My heart says Carolina, but my hockey pool say Boston. Bruins in 7
Bailey - This will be the shocker of the 1st round. Well, not exactly a shocker in who wins, but in the fashion that it happens. Carolina will do to Boston what Boston did to them last year, and for the second year in a row the Presidents’ Trophy winner will fail to win a game in the 1st round. Hurricanes in 4
jimmi - I like the tone of Bailey’s shocker. And often enjoy his flavoured beverages. And the possibility of a bunch of jerks beating a bunch of douchebags is tasty indeed. Canes in 6.
Rob - Carolina rolls over the aged Brown Bears. Canes in 5
Beggsy - Bailey’s got me even more excited for this series. Carolina won’t roll over to Boston this time. Bunch of Jerks in 5.
Kent- The time for the Revenge of The Jerks is at hand. If you didn’t get enough of crying Brad Marchand in last year’s playoffs, wait til you see his waterworks when they bow out early. And yes, it’s because we broke them earlier in the year. You’re welcome, world. Jerks in 6.
Markus - Cream of the crop for this round. Two great teams, but Canes are deep, have the momentum, and may get Hamilton back. I’ll go Canes in 7