Perhaps the word ‘love’ is a bit of a stretch. It wasn’t as if I hated the concocted “pre-playoffs” like she was a girlfriend who married the next person they dated after me. The playoffs, COVID-delayed or not, are perpetual. I have only had the woman I dated marry the next person they dated six times, and one of them decided to ‘curve their stick’ and shoot a bit differently, if you know what I mean.
Now the hoopla and fanfare, yes both occurred in the past couple weeks, of both the ‘Round Robin’ and the ‘Pre-Qualifying Round’ has officially exited the ice. Ergo we now have legit playoffs, so let’s take a look at who’s left for the next round. Apparently the NHL has now decided to call the next round the First Round, and I am okay with that. Essentially this means the NHL is now officially smarter than those college guys at the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament (hey remember that? It’s like nostalgia at this point). They convince themselves the play-in games are actually the first round. DUMB.
Did I say “let’s take a look at who’s left?’ I did. Not yet. Just a solid reminder the NHL teams are going nowhere. The Eastern Conference is still playing their games in Toronto at the venerable Scotiabank Arena. The Scotiabank Arena is like the United Center of the North. It’s nice, relatively new, but not a legendary place like Madison Square Garden (which BTW is not a square shape – who knew?). The Western Conference teams are still stuck in Edmonton and play their games at Rogers Place. Same deal. Nice, and kind of like an Olive Garden of arenas… without the breadsticks.
And what teams are not remaining?
Why the home teams of course. Edmonton got bounced by Chicago and Toronto got sent golfing by Columbus. As such, no one gets home ice advantage now. Makes the whole Round Robin seeding system pretty damn dumb. They could have just left them just like they how the regular season standings ended. In fact, some teams – looking right at you St. Louis and Boston – would have preferred that. Both the Blues and the Bruins crapped the bed and lost all 4 of their Round Robin games respectively. Nonetheless, they are still in it to win it. Now let’s take a playoff peek.
Philadelphia Flyers (1) vs Montreal Canadiens (8) I picked the Penguins to take the Canadiens out behind the fish house and whoop them good, but nay the Penguins didn’t care enough to win. But jump on the Montreal bandwagon? Ha! Flyers in 5.
Tampa Bay Lightning (2) vs Columbus Blue Jackets (7) The Blue Jackets were not supposed to be here. It’s not much of an upset they took out the Maple Leafs, but they did. Damn them. Still the Lightning are too much for them. Tampa in 6.
Washington Capitals (3) vs New York Islanders (6) The Islanders put a beatdown on the Florida Panthers – finally I got one right. The Capitals seems almost disinterested, but they won’t lose to the Islanders. Tough series. Caps in 7.
Boston Bruins (4) vs Carolina Hurricanes (5) Hey I got another one wrong. The Rangers were supposed to be here. It was going to be a Boston-New York battle. But no, we got Carolina. Really? Really. Even though the Bruins crapped the bed going 0-4, they’re up for this challenge. Boston in 7.
Las Vegas Golden Knights (1) vs Chicago Blackhawks (8) The Blackhawks made it the 8 slot not because they put the Oilers down easily, but because their goalie Corey Crawford, aka ‘cro’, was a superman. I can’t expect him to do it again. Vegas in 6.
Colorado Avalanche (2) vs Phoenix Coyotes (7) The Avalanche generally don’t play very well against Phoenix and I was looking forward to a Nashville-Colorado tilt. But no, Trashville decided to play down to their expectations. Trash. Colorado did take the Golden Knights to OT before falling. I expect they’ll finish off the Coyotes in 5.
Dallas Stars (3) vs Calgary Flames (6) Good golly, prediction #3 of correctness. And I will continue this one along, Flames in an upset in 6.
St. Louis Blues (4) vs Vancouver Canucks (5) The Blues must’ve gotten COVID from the St. Louis Cardinals and didn’t tell anyone. They were not good. The Canucks were pretty convincing dispatching the Wild, however they won’t get past St. Louis no matter how much COVID the Blues have. Blues in 6.
Am I going to go any further in this? H-E-double-hockey-sticks no. Hockey is a weird sport. It’s not uncommon to have an 8th seed beat a 1st seed. As such, I’ll just sit back, relax and watch some playoff hockey… unless it’s the Avalanche, then I’ll go nuts.