Reviewing the must watch matchups for Stanley Cup Playoffs

Reviewing the must watch matchups for Stanley Cup Playoffs

Brian Barr, Staff Writer

 

The NHL’s Playoffs have just started, and hockey fans are eager to declare a Stanley Cup champion.  The President Trophy Winner, the Florida Panthers, are playing the Washington Capitals in the first round of the playoffs.  The Panthers have 115-point scorer Jonathan Huberdeau while the Capitals are led by their 36-year old captain Alex Ovechkin, who had 50 goals and 90 points this season.  The Panthers have a 64.4 percent chance to make the second round and a 10 percent chance of winning it all according to MoneyPuck.  

“I think the Panthers can go very far in the playoffs as long as they do not suffer from too many injuries and the goaltending is consistent, which it hasn’t been so far this season,” said freshman Ryan Baxter.

The second best team during the regular season was the Colorado Avalanche, who are set to play the Nashville Predators in the first round.  A huge matchup to watch is Avalanche winger Mikko Rantanen playing against Predators defenseman Roman Josi.  Rantanen had 92 points in 75 games this year while Josi had 96 points.  The Predators are unfortunately plagued by an injury to their number one goalie, Juuse Saros, who could be out for the entirety of the playoffs. 

 “Due to the injury of Saros, I think the Avalanche are in a good position to win it all if they can get past the first round,” said freshman Dylan Saunders. 

The Avalanche have a 77.1 percent chance of getting to the second round and a 12.9 percent chance of winning the Championship according to MoneyPuck.  

The Carolina Hurricanes are playing the Boston Bruins in their first round series.  The Hurricanes and Bruinsboth have very strong defensive teams, allowing the first and fourth fewest goals against this season.  While the Hurricanes have Sebastain Aho, who is a great scorer with 81 points over 79 games, the Bruins’ David Pastrnak had 40 goals this season and is one of the best goal scorers.  The Bruins have the upper hand, at a 54 percent chance of making it to the second round and a 9.5 percent chance of winning the championship although it is deemed unlikely.

The Calgary Flames are having a breakout season and will play Stanley Cup finalists from  two years ago, the Dallas Stars.  The Flames’ Johnny Gaudreau had 115 points, the first time he broke the 100 mark in his career.  The Flames also are sixth in scoring and third in goals against per game, some of the best marks in the league.  The Stars best scorer is Joe Pavelski, who has 81 points this season, a career high for him.  The Flames have an 80.6 percent chance of getting into the second round and a 14.7 percent  chance of winning the cup.

The matchup between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the back-to-back champs, Tampa Bay Lightning in the Atlantic has some of the most star power.  The Maple Leafs have Austin Mathews, who scored 60 goals and had 106 points this season.  The Lightning, on the other hand, have former Hart winner Nikita Kucherov as well as Captain Steven Stamkos who also had 106 points.  This series should have tons of good scoring with the Leafs averaging 3.81 goals per game and the Lightning averaging 3.48 goals per game.  The Leafs have a 67.4 percent chance of beating the Lightning and a 12.9 percent chance of winning the cup, very similar odds to the Avalanche.

The New York Rangers are playing the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round, which has arguably the best goalie this season, Igor Shesterkin.  He has a .935 save percentage, the best in the league by a wide margin.  

“I think that the Rangers are going to do pretty well.  They have a well rounded team and can do great stuff,” said freshman Nathan Jackman.  

The Penguins have an aging core with Sidney Crosby being 34 and Evgeni Malkin being 35.  The Penguins have a 65.1 percent chance to advance and a 5.4 percent chance to win the cup.  

The Edmonton Oilers are playing the Los Angeles Kings in their first round series.  The top player is Oilers Captain Connor McDavid who had a great display of 123 points this season.  The Kings have Anze Kopitar as their best player, a good all around center with 67 points.  The Oilers have a 55.5 percent chance of advancing.  The Minnesota Wild are playing the St. Louis Blues in a Central Division rivalry.  The Wild have 47 goal scorer Kirill Kaprizov, and he will be trying to best Vladmir Tarasenko of the Blues, who has 82 points this season.  The Wild have a 71.3 percent chance of advancing.

While there is a lot of hockey to be played, there is a lot of optimism that this year’s playoffs can be some of the best hockey ever seen.  There is a great mix of new and familiar athletes competing against one another which should make for a must-watch playoffs.