Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The Jersey City Desk 2016 NHL Playoffs Preview

Johnny didn't talk much about hockey this past regular season. He doesn't like the Rangers or most of their fans, and the Devils never did anything to get excited about. Johnny was mad at his Red Wings at several points this year as he noticed issues popping up that weren't addressed in a way Johnny liked and he watched young players not take the next step under a coach they were familiar with and should have flourished under. But, as they always do for a Wings fan, the playoffs have come around agains for the 25th straight year. Let's take a look at the conference quarterfinals shall we?

Detroit vs Tampa Bay - The Bolts should have all the advantages here but they don't do they? A lot of top flight prognosticators are taking the underdog Wings. Tampa Bay is without several key players up front and on the back end. Tyler Johnson who torched the Wings in the playoffs last year is a game time decision. There's an old adage in hockey this time of year, beware the veteran team that underachieved in the regular season. While the Wings are rather young they do have key vets in Zetterberg, Kronwall, Richards, Green and Pavel Datsyuk. A lesser Wings team took a better Lightning team to 7 games last spring before losing. This year it's Wings in 7.

Washington vs Philadelphia - Yeah, but it's Washington everyone keeps saying. Yes, yes it is but even Washington can get through one series as President's Trophy winners. The Flyers are hot coming in and playing with confidence. If they take one of the first this could be a long series with Washington winning. If the Caps win both at home it's over in 5 at worst.

New York Islanders vs Florida - The first-place Panthers on paper should have no trouble with the plucky Isles who are close to being a very good team but need to figure out how that last jump happens. It hasn't yet. The Panthers in 6 but perhaps the Isles can take a pound of flesh from Florida for their troubles like that famed Toronto series years back.

New York Rangers vs Pittsburgh - The most evenly matched of the first eastern series' to be sure. The Penguins keep telling everyone they're done with all the choking and Sidney Crosby is ready to roll. The Rangers have become a pretty reliable playoff team (Of course everyone tore up their brackets the day Michigan State lost too) with a roster built for this time of year and a coach who doesn't panic. Johnny likes the Rags in 7 here.

Still here? OK, the West, where lots of teams get opportunities to hoist the cup now that Detroit is in the East (Yes Wings fans are insufferable this time of year but also awesome).

Chicago vs St Louis - We've seen this set-up time and time again with St. Louis. They're in a home ice advantage, they have what looks like a great team and then they face a Chicago or Detroit and it all goes sideways quickly. The Hawks are battle tested and even with just one great line this time around Johnny thinks knows that until St. Louis actually wins a big series he's picking Chicago. The Blues have to be the biggest disappointment in the Western Conference come playoff time since...

San Jose vs Los Angeles - ...The Sharks. Year after year after decade we hear about how THIS without a doubt is the year Team Teal breaks through with their awesome talent, their great coaching and wild fan support and every year it's the same goddamned thing, pfffffffft. The Kings are trying to build a dynasty at the same time the Hawks are. To watch a Hawks vs Kings series later would be divine. Good thing the Kings only have to dispatch the Sharks in 6 here.

Dallas vs Minnesota - The old North Stars vs the new North Stars with he Wild name. What a wonderful reunion of Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Nobody cares

Nashville vs Anaheim - A lot of people are simply checking off the Ducks box in their brackets without giving too much thought to the series to be played. Here's Johnny's possible red light upset special. The Predators score a LOT of goals from their defensemen. A lot. They shoot hard, often and well. How many times is the deciding shot late in a tie game or overtime a tipped point shot or a screen? If the Nashville forwards can somewhat limit the Ducks one big line and they do get a couple BB's into the back of the net, this series gets real interesting real fast. Preds in 7.

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