April 16, 2015

The road to the Stanley Cup: Preview, predictions, and playmakers

Nash. Predators vs. Chi. Blackhawks

Game 1- Wednesday Chicago 4–3 2OT

Game 2- Friday 8:30 p.m.

Regular season: Chicago 3–1

Fans: 73 percent for Blackhawks

Patrick Kane is good to go. Originally forecasted to miss 12 weeks due to a collarbone injury, Kane is back on the ice ready for game one, only four weeks later! He proved useful immediately, notching two assists to help his team recover from a four-goal deficit to win in double overtime. On the other side of the ice, we have head coach Peter Laviolette of Nashville who came in last April to take a 38–21–12 Predators team that missed the playoffs, and turn them into a 47–25–10 Stanley Cup threat. With their speedy transition game and Kane’s equally speedy return, Chicago is going push this Nashville team right back and it will make for a great series.

       Prediction: Blackhawks in 6

Van. Canucks vs. Calgary Flames

Game 1- Wednesday Calgary 2–1

Game 2- Friday 9 p.m.

Regular season: Flames 2–1–1

Fans: 51 percent for Flames

Neither of these two teams are Stanley Cup favorites, but they’ve both made it to the playoffs, and together make for one of the more even match-ups in this year’s bracket. Calgary is a young team, with many of its members seeing the playoffs for the first time. Vancouver Canucks, on the other hand, are going to have to rely on the veteran Sedin twins for offense. Calgary took game one in the final minute of play off a Kris Russel shot from the point.

Prediction: Vancouver in 7

Mont. Canadiens vs. Ottawa Senators

Game 1- Wednesday Canadiens 4–3

Game 2- Friday 6 p.m.

Regular season: Ottawa 3–1

Fans: 73 percent for Canadiens

The Senators went on quite a run to earn their hard fought playoff berth, while rookie goaltender Andrew Hammond instantly became a sensation in Ottawa. His first start? A 4–2 win over the Canadiens, a win that began an unreal 20–1–2 stretch by the rookie netminder. OK, the Senators are hot and they seem to have found themselves a good goaltender, but don’t forget who’s in goal for Montreal, Carey Price. Price, a Vezina trophy favorite, is a proven performer who is capable of stealing any series, and most certainly this one. Ottawa is a great, young, inexperienced group who might be taken aback by the Montreal Canadiens. Canadiens won the first game, 4–3, scoring late in the third period to break a 3–3 tie.

Prediction: Canadiens in 5

Wash. Capitals vs. N.Y. Islanders

Game 1- Wednesday Islanders 4–1

Game 2- Friday 6 p.m.

Regular season: Washington 2–0–2

Fans: 59 percent for Capitals

Alexander Ovechkin. Though critics love to hate on him, it’s hard to give the man any heat with how he’s been rolling lately. Though he has no cup to show for it, Alexander Ovechkin is one of the best playoff performers in the league. Travis Hamonic, a New York shutdown defenseman is out indefinitely, leaving Ovechkin with that much more space. Don’t worry though; the Isles have a big gun too in John Tavares. The Washington Capital’s goalie Braden Holtby had a great regular season, but can he stop the Islanders offense? New York took fourth in the league in goals scored, and should have no trouble netting 3–4 goals a game. The Islanders did just that on Wednesday, taking a 4–1 victory.

Prediction: Capitals in 7