Mike Maniscalco

Good match-ups, upset potential in first round of NHL playoffs

Posted April 17, 2014

The lockers have been cleaned out, the players and head coach of the Carolina Hurricanes have addressed the media and the song remains the same, the PNC arena will be without playoff hockey again.

That doesn’t mean that the Triangle has to give up on the NHL post-season. There are plenty of good match-ups in the first round to hold your attention. The first round has upset potential with the new format, where the second and third place finishers in the division square-off against each other.

In the East

Boston looks to be the beast of the conference. This team went to the Finals last year and was a few seconds away from forcing a game seven. The first round match-up for the Bruins this year would have been a solid Stanley Cup Finals from years past. The Detroit Red Wings fresh from a move from west to east try to take out the defending Eastern Conference champs. The Wings suffered injury upon injury this year, and still found a way to make the playoffs. I have to show the Red Wings some respect, but they are too beat up to knock out the Bruins. Boston in 6.

Pittsburgh and Columbus already have a game in the books and two former Carolina Hurricanes came up big. Jussi Jokinen and Brandon Sutter netted huge goals as the Penguins erased a two goal deficit to take game one. Columbus also new to the Eastern Conference showed they have the makings of a playoff contender, but Pittsburgh has too much offense in this match-up. Pens eliminate the Blue Jackets in 5.

The Metro division playoff has longtime rivals Philadelphia and the New York Rangers dancing. Philly has Claude Giroux and toughness that can pose problems for most teams. The New York Rangers have the best goalie in the game in Henrik Lunqvist and they added Martin St Louis at the trade deadline for scoring punch. The goaltending edge is too big to ignore in this one and the Rangers have it. New York in 7.

Montreal and Tampa Bay both have the ability to score a lot of goals. Game one going to overtime showed that. Montreal taking game one in Tampa with a 5-4 overtime victory was a huge step moving forward through the round. Tampa has played great under first year coach John Cooper, playing an unorthodox style of hockey, but not having goalie Ben Bishop, who will miss the series with an elbow injury, will be huge loss for the Lightning. The Habs have the better blue line and now definitely have the better goalie in Carey Price. Montreal in 6.

Out West almost every series could go the distance

Anaheim has been invincible at home this year and the Ducks will have home ice all the way through the western playoffs. Dallas squeaked into the post season but they are no fluke team. The Stars have plenty of offense from Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn, and Hurricanes fans might remember that Ray Whitney and Erik Cole are capable of producing playoff magic. Anaheim is built for the post season, and while head coach Bruce Boudreau hasn’t had playoff success behind the bench, this team isn’t the flawed Washington teams he guided into the post season. Oh and with Teemu Selanne playing in his last post-season, the Ducks aren’t bowing out early. The Ducks took game one but not without the Stars putting up a fight. That should be the story of this series, Stars will fight but the Ducks are just better. Anaheim in 5.

Colorado and Minnesota could be played on a speed skating track. Both teams have the ability to skate circles around opponents but not around each other. Patrick Roy in his first year behind the bench has turned the Avalanche franchise back into the Av’s that were winning Stanley Cups. Minnesota has spent boatloads of cash to be a playoff team. This Minnesota group has enough to win the round but Colorado just wins. Not bad for a team that had the second worst record in hockey last year. Colorado in 7.

The defending champion Chicago Blackhawks are pitted against a team that many people think could win the title this year in the St Louis Blues. St Louis traded for goalie Ryan Miller to solidify the one thing that people thought was the weak part of the team. St Louis has size and skill but the Blackhawks have a different edge. Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane are coming back from injury and you have to kill the king to wear the crown. Chicago has skill and a defense that moves the puck quickly away from trouble. Add into the mix that the Hawks are tough, will not be pushed around, and know how to win in these kind of series. This series defines what playoff hockey is all about. It will go seven and we will want it to go more. Chicago in 7.

California has three teams in the playoffs and while Anaheim might be the best team record wise in the state, no one should be surprised if Los Angeles or San Jose hoists the Cup. This series will be physical, nasty and tough to score goals for, lack of a better term, a war of attrition. The Kings are not that far removed from a title, the Sharks have been next year’s team for the last five seasons. Trying to dent the Kings stingy defense is next to impossible when Los Angeles netminder Johnathan Quick is on and this club has no problem trying to win 2-1. San Jose is balanced, big, and this just might be next year for Joe Thornton and company. It will not be easy but this will at least be the Sharks round. San Jose in 7.

The first round this year will have something for everyone. And this time next year for hockey fans in the Triangle, hopefully it will feature the Hurricanes.

6 Comments

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  • Whistling Dixie Apr 18, 11:40 a.m.

    Thank you WRAL. I thought that because the hurricanes were out, you're nhl coverage would be... View More

    — Posted by BackwiththePack

    Why? This is garbage. We ain't in Canada. Or are we?

    — Posted by Whistling Dixie

    No but your welcome to go. If you don't like it then don't read it. You don't see me posting... View More

    — Posted by BackwiththePack

    You would enjoy it more up there. Ya know, where you came from.

  • tllight Apr 18, 10:42 a.m.

    Who cares, the Cannes are out again, as usual.

  • BackwiththePack Apr 18, 9:25 a.m.

    Thank you WRAL. I thought that because the hurricanes were out, you're nhl coverage would be... View More

    — Posted by BackwiththePack

    Why? This is garbage. We ain't in Canada. Or are we?

    — Posted by Whistling Dixie

    No but your welcome to go. If you don't like it then don't read it. You don't see me posting on baseball and nascar topics do you? Enjoy your southern sports. I'll enjoy my hockey despite your intolerance of others.

  • Whistling Dixie Apr 18, 12:00 a.m.

    Thank you WRAL. I thought that because the hurricanes were out, you're nhl coverage would be... View More

    — Posted by BackwiththePack

    Why? This is garbage. We ain't in Canada. Or are we?

  • StunGunn Apr 17, 10:26 p.m.

    Nice to see Jokinen and Sutter scoring in the post season, and also Whitney and one of my all time favorites Eric Cole still skating. 2006 seems so long ago (because it IS so long ago.

  • BackwiththePack Apr 17, 6:20 p.m.

    Thank you WRAL. I thought that because the hurricanes were out, you're nhl coverage would be slack. This is great. Hopefully you will keep up with the playoff coverage. Thanks from a fans standpoint.

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Scoreboard
Local
Final
STJ 68
DUKE 77
Final
NCSU 78
ND 81
7:00pm Tonight
NCCU
DELST
 
7:00pm Tonight
UNC
SYR
 
Final
CHI 84
MIA 96
Final
CLE 108
OKC 98
Final
NOP 109
DAL 106
Final
ORL 99
IND 106
Final
PHO 100
LAC 120
Final
ATL 112
MIN 100
Final
TOR 114
DET 110
Final
SAN 101
MIL 95
Final
GSW 114
BOS 111
Final
DEN 115
WAS 117
Final
LAL 87
HOU 99
7:30pm Tonight
BRK
POR
 
7:30pm Tonight
NYK
SAC
 
8:00pm Tonight
OKC
MIN
 
8:00pm Tonight
MEM
ORL
 
8:00pm Tonight
NOP
PHI
 
9:00pm Tonight
UTA
BOS
 
10:30pm Tonight
LAC
DEN
 
Final
UCONN 66
SFLA 53
Final
GT 62
BC 64
Final
VT 47
UVA 50
Final
OSU 82
IND 70
Final
UCF 46
CIN 56
Final
WICHS 74
DRAK 40
Final
STJ 68
DUKE 77
Final
MAR 73
FAIR 67
 
Final
HART 61
MAINE 70
 
Final
MAN 71
MON 64
 
Final
PRIN 96
ROWAN 48
 
Final
SIENA 55
PETE 69
 
Final
RIU 53
BONA 48
Final
BING 54
USB 61
 
Final
MLOWELL 50
VERM 61
 
Final
BUT 77
SHU 57
Final
SALA 55
YALE 72
 
Final
PITT 68
LOU 80
Final
ILLST 53
NIOWA 54
Final
GTDNS 69
UMBC 55
 
Final
IONA 87
NIAG 64
 
Final
TENST 55
BEL 63
 
Final
NCSU 78
ND 81
Final
VILL 71
CREI 50
Final
MD 68
NW 67
Final
UTAH 77
WASH 56
7:00pm Tonight
AMER
ARMY
 
7:00pm Tonight
OU
CLST
 
7:00pm Tonight
NCCU
DELST
 
7:00pm Tonight
PBY
HIGH
 
7:00pm Tonight
UNC
SYR
 
7:00pm Tonight
DET
WRST
 
7:30pm Tonight
NCAT
COPST
 
7:30pm Tonight
SCST
HAMP
 
7:30pm Tonight
COOK
HOW
 
7:30pm Tonight
NWST
NICST
 
8:00pm Tonight
NO
CARK
 
8:00pm Tonight
CAMP
GWEBB
 
8:00pm Tonight
FAM
MDES
 
8:00pm Tonight
INCWORD
MCNST
 
8:00pm Tonight
SAV
NORST
 
8:00pm Tonight
ABCHRIST
SHSU
 
8:00pm Tonight
LAM
STEPH
 
8:00pm Tonight
SELA
TAMCC
 
8:05pm Tonight
VALPO
UWMIL
 
8:30pm Tonight
ALAAM
ALCOR
 
8:30pm Tonight
ALAST
SOUTH
 
9:00pm Tonight
ARKPB
PVU
 
9:00pm Tonight
ISU
TEX
 
9:00pm Tonight
MVSU
TXSOU
 
Final
TEAMFOLI 12
TEAMTOEWS 17
Final
CARTER 28
IRVIN 32