Ah, NHL playoff action – does it get any better than this? With the playoffs underway, 16 cities all believe that this could be their year. But alas, some will find out very quickly that the end is near. Still, no matter the results in Game 1 across the board, and no matter the NHL betting odds that an underdog must overcome, it’s not over. You can win a series opener 7-0 like the Penguins did or you can win 1-0 like the Golden Knights did. Either way, it only counts for one win. You need four to move on. So cool your Jets, Winnipeg! See what I did there?
2018 NHL Playoff Series Advice
I believe that several series are earmarked to go the distance, regardless of what happened in Game 1. And sure, some of these predictions below already differ from what I was prognosticating a few days ago. Lay off, okay? Just kidding. But seriously, analysis of early matchups and key injuries and suspensions permit me to change my mind.
Kings vs Golden Knights
The Opener was as close as it gets. Los Angeles proved their point that they will push Vegas to the limit. The Kings have eight two-time Stanley Cup winners on their roster, and I think their experience will begin to show.
Sharks vs Ducks
Could these two teams be any more evenly matched? They finished within a point of one another in the regular season standings and they’ve both had deep playoff runs recently. Since Martin Jones could stand on his head or fall flat on his face in any given game and since John Gibson can either be incredible or injured, it’s hard to predict what will happen in this NHL playoff matchup. This one is going the distance.
Blue Jackets vs Capitals
Columbus has been a trendy pick by experts to upset Washington. But the Caps have continuity and a formula that usually works in the first round of the postseason. Beyond that, no one knows. The Blue Jackets really need some solid play from goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, who has not had a stellar playoff record in the past. However, Braden Holtby has been suspect for D.C. this season. So a hungry CBJ team will push Washington to the distance. And (here comes the cliche) anything can happen in a Game 7.
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.