This Week in Sports: The Road to the Stanley Cup

The ice is starting to get a bit warmer, and the race to the playoffs are even hotter!

By Ruslan Shchetinin

With one series finished, and another four dangerously close sitting at 3–1, is it time to start talking about the second round yet? Let’s look at some potential matchups:

St. Louis vs Chicago Blackhawks:

Wouldn’t this be a series? These two teams would light up the score sheet, as neither of these teams had trouble putting pucks into the net. Watching David Backes face off against Jonathan Toews, not to mention watching Vladimir Tarasenko and Patrick Kane go neck-to-neck, would be entertaining for Blues fans and Hawks fans alike.

Minnesota Wild vs Chicago Blackhawks:

 Minnesota’s been playing well and their tough, hard-hitting style would match up well against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Long Shot: 

The Nashville Predators must feel really demoralized after a recent triple-overtime loss, and with two overtime games already played, the Preds have to feel some exhaustion. They are a great team, but it is unlikely they have it in them to force a Game Seven and take the series. If they do, they’d face off against either the Blue Jackets or the Wild.

Anaheim vs Calgary Flames:

Anaheim was dominant in its 4–0 sweep of the Winnipeg Jets, and is now enjoying the nice California weather as it recoups and readies for round two. Anaheim has another not-so-difficult series ahead of them—these Ducks are feeling ready to breeze through yet another Canadian team, be it Calgary or be it Vancouver.

Montreal vs Detroit Red Wings:

Not all Canadian teams are a cakewalk. The Montreal Canadiens are one strong team, one of the best in the East, and with Carey Price in net, they would be a tough team to face for the Red Wings.

Montreal vs TB Lightning:

Tampa Bay Lightning still has a good chance against a Detroit Red Wings team who has seen some hot goaltending recently, including a shutout by young goaltender Petr Mrazek. If Mrazek shows any weakness, Tampa has shown it can execute. It netted five goals in Game Two. Tampa Bay Lightning, though it is down in its series, might have the offense needed to break through Carey Price if it makes it through round one.

Long Shot: 

Can a young Ottawa Senators team come back from a 3–1 deficient? It’s already scored a desperate 1–0 shutout win to avoid getting swept. It’s a long road for the Senators, and if they pull it off, we’re looking at a matchup against the Red Wings or the Lightning

NY Rangers vs NY Islanders: 

What better matchup then a local rivalry? If this is the matchup, the New York Rangers and New York Islanders will have a heated series that’ll definitely be one for the books, perfect for a last playoff meeting before the Islanders move even closer to Madison Square Garden with their relocation to Brooklyn’s Barclays Center next season.

NY Rangers vs Washington Capitals: The New York Rangers and the Washington Capitals are no strangers in the playoffs; they’ve met three out of the last four postseasons. The Rangers won the last two series, but the Capitals took two before that. Expect these two teams, recently brought into the same Metropolitan Division, to expand on their already blooming rivalry.

Long Shot:

Can the Pens repay the Rangers for last year’s 3–1 series comeback? Doubtful. If they do pull it off, we’re looking at a massively entertaining series against the Islanders or the Capitals.