The playoffs are here! Finally! I know, I used two consecutive exclamation marks, but I am just so excited for better hockey. The postseason for the National Hockey League is so much better than the regular season. Emotions are high, there’s overtime until someone wins and there’s more hitting. It’ll be fun. At press time, the NHL odds favorite to win the cup is the Nashville Predators at 15 to 4, followed by the Boston Bruins at 11 to 2. The two-time defending champs, the Pittsburgh Penguins, are 10 to 1 to threepeat. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Here are the our prognostications for all 8 series.
Lightning vs Devils
Tampa hasn’t played great defense over the last month, and Steven Stamkos is banged up. But the Devils are a one-man team with Taylor Hall. I just don’t think that he has enough help to keep up with the Lightning. Give me Tampa Bay in 5 games.
Capitals vs Blue Jackets
Everyone assumes that the Caps will win this one easily. But the Blue Jackets have flopped recently in the postseason and they will be playing with a chip on their shoulder. I think this one surprisingly goes the distance. Give me the Caps in a full 7 games.
Bruins vs Leafs
The Leafs can score with anyone in the league. But can they stop the puck? Hmm, not so sure. That’s why I like the Bruins. They have more experience, depth of scoring and the better goalie. Give me Boston in 6 games.
Penguins vs Flyers
If you’re looking to bet the over on some NHL playoff action, do it for every game in this series! The Flyers don’t have the goaltending, but the Pens haven’t been stout in nets either. I like the champs to prevail, though. But it won’t be easy. Penguins in 7 games.
Predators vs Avalanche
On paper this is a mismatch. And in reality it’s also a mismatch. I just don’t like anything about this matchup for Colorado, including the goalie comparison. Jonathan Bernier? Yeesh. Give me Nashville in a 4-game sweep!
Golden Knights vs Kings
I smell an upset. The experience. The clutch play. The thought of the clock striking midnight on the Cinderella Vegas squad. But the Knights do have a legit home ice advantage. So give me Vegas, but in a full 7 games. I could easily see L.A. also winning here.
Jets vs Wild
This has got to be the year that Winnipeg finally wins a playoff game. They’re tremendous, top to bottom. The Wild have some veterans, but they’re simply not fast enough to keep up. Give me the Peg in 5 games.
Ducks vs Sharks
Both of these teams are deep and experienced. The loss of John Gibson was perhaps a death-knell for Anaheim, who has legit Stanley Cup aspirations. I don’t buy Ryan Miller keeping up. But Martin Jones is no MVP in nets for San Jose, either. This one will go the distance. I like the Sharks in a mild upset, in 7 games, with more than one matchup heading to overtime.
Matthew Ross is a sports commentator and a radio host on TSN 690 Radio in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. He’s also a contributor to ESPN 101.3 Plattsburgh/Burlington. Follow him @MatthewWords.