Did everyone see my 18-19 season prognostications piece?! You didn’t?!? Good…don’t….
I guess I should start this off by saying, I’m back! First blog I’ve wrote since January, and that one was the first I had written since early December. Life got in the way, started wondering why I was doing this for pretty much no reason at this point in my life (to be really honest), but the playoffs are here, it’s the off-season, and I got a little bit of the itch to do some writing and podcasting so I don’t know if it’ll keep going, but for today I’m putting out some new stuff.
I’m not sure why I’m calling these prognostications. They really aren’t, they’re guesses. Do we know what injuries will take place? How the schedule might impact each team? What game plan’s coaches may have in place? We don’t know shit! Yet, if these are right, you know I’ll be the first guy to let everyone know. And if they’re wrong, I’ll never speak of them again. Stupid either way. So let’s get to all this stupidity, shall we?
P1 Calgary vs WC2 Colorado
Of all the first round series, this is the one that should be a cake walk. The more I gave this series thought, the more I found myself saying that the Avs just match up horribly with the Flames. The Flames one weakness might be in net, and the Avs have almost identical goaltending. The Avs have a fast team with two big-time scorers, but the Flames have as fast of a team with two big-time scorers and much better depth…not to mention a centre in Backlund who will likely see a lot of Nathan MacKinnon and the Norris trophy winner who’ll also see a ton of him. The Avs got hot down the stretch to get in, but Cale Makar isn’t walking through that door…til game 3 at the earliest…and Bowen Byram isn’t walking through that door…until late June.
P2 San Jose vs P3 Vegas
First of all, I’m going to say that I’m officially done doubting the Knights…despite who I have winning this series. This is 100% about Martin Jones, or maybe Aaron Dell. Whoever starts for the Sharks anyway. If they get the goaltending, they win the series. The Golden Knights top four on D is suspect at best. I know they have pretty good depth up front, but the Sharks easily match that depth. So this is about goaltending and we know how good Fleury can be. Jones has been terrible this season, but I’ve seen this guy play tremendous in too many big spots over the last three seasons to believe he’s going to be shitty in the playoffs. Remember, Braden Holtby struggled so much last season that he didn’t even start for the Caps in the playoffs, and then led them to a Cup. I’m going to GUESS that this is Jones and all I am honestly doing is completely guessing here, as either team can win this.
Sharks in 6
P1 Calgary vs P2 San Jose
The big thing here is that Jones gets going for the Sharks. To put it simply, if the Sharks get past the Knights it’ll be because Jones gets going. If Jones gets going, then the Sharks matchup real well with the Flames, and would own a big advantage in the experience department.
Sharks in 7
C1 Nashville vs WC1 Dallas
This is going to be a very tough matchup for the Preds. The Stars have a terrific young and emerging blueline, and both Ben Bishop and Anton Khudobin have had terrific seasons. The Stars definitely can win this series, and I expect to hear a lot of people pick the Stars either to win this series or as a dark horse team in the playoffs in general. It wouldn’t be a dumb thing to say. But I believe what people are going to miss on the Preds is how much better of a team they are this season. I don’t care that it didn’t show during the regular season. They’ve been to the final, they’ve won the President’s trophy, the regular season for them now mean’s nothing. Simmonds, Granlund, even a kid like Dante Fabbro, these are very key upgrades for an already stacked team. And I honestly can’t imagine Pekka Rinne will fall flat on his face like he did last spring. I like the Preds to win this series and make a deep run, but this series won’t be easy.
Preds in 7
C2 Winnipeg vs C3 St. Louis
Sucks to say this, things couldn’t be more wrong for the Jets entering the playoffs. Awful end to the season, awful first-round opponent. The Blues are one team that can match the Jets major advantage which is their size. That’s the one thing that the Jets could maybe rely on in the playoffs, and the Blues are just as heavy of a team. Blues have the better D, hotter goaltender, gone through major adversity, nothing to lose, this just couldn’t be a worse matchup for the Jets in my opinion.
Blues in 6
C1 Nashville vs C3 St. Louis
I gave big consideration for both these teams to go all the way. Tough to pick against the Blues given they’ve been the best team in the Western Conference in 2019. But again with the Preds, the regular season hasn’t meant shit to them. They have another level or two that they can crank it up, and I believe they are going to and once they do, I don’t see the Blues matching it.
Preds in 6
Nashville vs San Jose
I think everyone in hockey believes this will be the West final…if both squads get the goaltending. As far as the combination of forwards and defence go, these appear to be the best rosters in the West. I’m banking on them getting the goaltending they need to get to this point. And if they meet, I like the Preds goaltending a little more, and I believe the Preds also own advantages both down the middle and on the blueline, where the size and speed are saw-offs in my mind.
Preds in 7
A1 Tampa Bay vs WC2 Columbus
My upset special! This will probably be extremely wrong, but I do actually see how the Blue Jackets are a brutal matchup for the Lightning. Bobrovsky hasn’t been himself all season, but we know how hot he can get. They aren’t better than the Lightning anywhere but have similar depth, and the Jackets are a team better built to play playoff hockey. Everyone in the hockey world right now is pointing and laughing at the Blue Jackets for loading up at the deadline only to get Tampa in the first round. When everyone goes one way, I love to go the other and even though I had Tampa and Nashville in the final to start the season, I’m taking the Jackets here.
Jackets in 7
A2 Boston vs A3 Toronto
My tune on this has changed the last two or three weeks. I was all in on the Leafs pulling the win, and still believe that they should. But the vibe around them couldn’t be worse right now. Sounds like a ton of issues within the organization right now, the Bruins seem to be 100% in their heads, Andersen has been overplayed this season, I worry about the team wearing down as the season’s gone on, it just feels all wrong. And the people who I’ve heard take Toronto love to point out how last year the Leafs were up going into the 3rd in game 7. That’s avoiding the truth of what went on in that series. The Bruins were the better team in at least five of the games, and maybe six. The games the Leafs lost without Nazem Kadri, he wouldn’t have made the difference. And while they’ve added Tavares and Muzzin since last season, they’ve lost Bozak, Komarov, and JVR. I expect a better series than last year, but again I just can’t get over how in the Leafs heads the Bruins seem to be.
Bruins in 7
M1 Washington vs WC1 Carolina
So in case anyone hasn’t noticed, and I’m pretty certain they haven’t, nobody is saying shit about the Caps entering the playoffs…again. Last year these guys finally faced no pressure. This year it’s even less. Nobody is picking them to go back, and nobody is crushing them for not ever getting over the hump. Personally, I see that as a scary recipe for the rest of the league. The Canes are a solid team, but I see them as having won their Cup by getting in the dance.
Caps in 6
M2 NY Islanders vs M3 Pittsburgh
I believe most will be calling the Pens to win this in 4 or 5, and the Islanders know this. They’ve been the underdogs all season and that won’t change in this series. Even though the Penguins win just about every matchup in this series, the Isles are playing with house money, have tremendous goaltending, and I believe will push the Pens to the limit before finally bowing out.
Pens in 7
A2 Boston vs WC2 Columbus
Boy would the Bruins ever be pumped up about catching a break like this would be. And it’s funny that while I actually really like how the Jackets matchup with the Lightning, I feel they don’t at all with the Bruins. The big thing is that against the Bruins they wouldn’t have the edge in the grit department. Even though the Bruins aren’t big, they won’t get pushed around.
Bruins in 6
M1 Washington vs M3 Pittsburgh
I really believe that we’re going to see this matchup again, and I believe that this time around people are going to be pretty disappointed with what occurs. The Caps have always felt to me like the more talented squad, but they couldn’t get over the mental hurdle. Even though last season to me was more about the Pens gassing out then the Caps being the better team, it removed the mental hurdle for the Caps. I just don’t like the Pens at all coming into these playoffs and I believe Jim Rutherford did a terrible job upgrading the club for another run at a Cup.
Caps in 5
Boston vs Washington
This is one that I could see going either way if it is to happen. Some might go with the Bruins thanks to maybe believing the Caps will wear down. I don’t know if we’ll see that from the Caps until maybe the final should they get there. And if you had to give one team an edge in this series, I’d say the Caps depth skill is something the Bruins can’t match.
Caps in 7
Stanley Cup Final
Washington vs Nashville
I wouldn’t cry about this being the final. The Preds love to push teams around, and the Caps proved last year that they’re capable of pushing back. Not the speed in the final most may expect given the way the game is going, but what it would lack in speed, it’d more than makeup for in skill and physical play. As I hinted at with the East final, I believe that by THIS point, we might see the Caps simply running out of gas. Combine that with an extremely talented Preds team desperate to win a Cup, I’ll stick with my pick in the fall of the Preds winning their first.
Preds in 6
Subscribe to the Podcast
Follow me on Twitter @TJ_Soups
Like the fan page on Facebook
Follow me on Instagram @Soups_on_Hockey