The west is more intriguing matchup wise, but we could get a couple thrillers here.
Pittsburgh Penguins (5) vs Montreal Canadiens (12)
Obviously, if the Pens are healthy, they have a shot at the cup. Jarry should get his chance in the spotlight to face off against Price who could be one of the best goalies in the world. Mtl is a very mediocre and underwhelming team though, so anything less than Pitt dominating will be shocking.
Winners: Pens in 4
Carolina Hurricanes (6) vs New York Rangers (11)
The Rags dominated during the season, but that was pretty much a year ago. This series is really up for grabs as I feel like these teams balance out evenly at all positions. I’ll give a tiny advantage to the Canes for their playoff experience last season. Shesterkin or Lundqvist? I don’t think it will matter.
Winners: Canes in 5
New York Islanders (7) vs Florida Panthers (10)
Overly defensive versus overly offensive. The Isles are responsible and could put the cats to sleep, or the Panthers could get on a roll and steamroll the Isles who don’t really have an identity this season. Jean-Gabriel Pageau needs to show up if the NYI want a chance. FLA needs playoff Bob to be on the case.
Winners: Florida in 5
Toronto Maple Leafs (8) vs Columbus Blue Jackets (9)
The Leafs have given hockey fans a good laugh for the past few playoffs, but could this unheard of pause/scenario fair well for their young guns who are struggling to get over the hump? I think so. Playoffs as we know it has always been rough, tough and emotionally fueled by crazy fans and wild atmospheres. Toronto doesn’t thrive off any of that which should lead them to smooth sailing, unless Torts has something up his sleeve.
Winners: Leafs in 4 —————————