It is that time of year again with the NHL playoffs having rolled around for another year.
With the games set to begin on Wednesday night we are going to take a look at a list of players that’ll be exciting to watch, along with some round one Eastern Conference predictions that are sure to cause debate.
1. Sidney Crosby - Pittsburgh Penguins
Having just barely clinched the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, Penguins forward Crosby and co look to get back on track and make a statement in their upcoming playoff run.
Although Crosby lies third in scoring this season with 84 points, beating the surging President’s trophy winning New York Rangers will be a tough task.
Penguin’s head Coach Mike Johnston had to mix up his offensive lines considerably to compensate for the injuries of defensemen Kris Letang and Christian Ehrhoff, and had very little success in the final games of the season. Therefore, it’ll be interesting to see if the Penguins will have the depth within their roster to battle the Rangers.
Prediction: New York Rangers win series 4-3
2. Carey Price - Montreal Canadiens
Price is coming out of a record breaking season with the Montreal Canadiens. Montreal has remained near the top of the standings in the Eastern Conference for most of the season.Brendan Gallagher has used his explosive speed all throughout the season to score goals and win games.
The superior faceoff skills of Max Pacioretty and Thomas Plekanec have also played a huge part in this team’s success. Although Pacioretty is likely ruled out for game one, Price will carry them through.
Prediction: Montreal Canadiens win series 4-1
3. Alexander Oveckin - Washington Capitals
Oveckin has been a goal scoring machine for the Capitals again this season. He finished fourth in points with 53 goals and 28 assists. But the New York Islanders have their own goal scoring machine in John Tavares. Tavares finished second in points this season with 38 goals and 48 assists.
Therefore, this series may come down to goaltending or defense. The Islanders defensive anchor’s Nick Leddy and Johnny Boychuck, along with goalie Jaroslav Halak, have done exceptionally well. But Washington’s number one goalie Brandon Holtby has done well this year too, so this series could go either way. Regardless, there’s sure to be lots of goals and excitement in this series.
Prediction: New York Islanders win series 4-2
4. Steven Stampkos - Tampa Bay Lightning
Stamkos and the Lightning have a tremendous round one challenge in the Detroit Red Wings. The series puts Lightning forwards Steven Stamkos and Ondrea Palat against the legendary veterans Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterbergh of the Red Wings.
It’s Nikita Kucherov against Gustov Nyquist. Will speed defeat experience? Or will experience outlast speed? These are the questions that arise when analyzing this series. This series will likely be decided on which team loses a home game.
Prediction: Tampa Bay Lightning win series 4-2
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