NHL Playoffs fire up

Who will lift the Stanley Cup this year?



1st round of the NHL Playoffs are underway

It’s that time of the year again. The NHL regular season wraps up which only means one thing. Stanley Cup Playoffs. This year features the usual playoff team, who include the Pittsburgh Penguins, Washington Capitals, LA Kings, and the Anaheim Ducks. Although there were some surprise time, who include the Vegas Knights and the New Jersey Devils. It should be a very entertaining April and May.

Eastern Conference

Tampa Bay vs New Jersey

Tampa Bay really showed some fight this year after missing the playoffs during the 2016-17 season. The lightning are full of firepower on offense, led by Nikita Kucherov. Kucherov lead Tampa with 100 points, 41 of those were goals. The team also depends on the star Steven Stamkos. Stamkos has bounced back a long way, after breaking his leg a few years ago. Other weapons the Lightning have are Tyler Johnson, Brayden Point, Yanni Gourde and Victor Hedman. Jon Cooper (head coach) always brings his fast tempo young offense ready for playoffs. However, there is a new kid in town. The New Jersey Devils. The Devils got off to a hot start. They have a good mix of veterans who include Taylor Hall, Kyle Palmieri, and Cory Schneider. Taylor Hall has been on fire this season, posting 39 goals and 54 assists. The young stars include rookie Nico Hischier, who had 20 goals and 32 assists. I think this will be a close series but I think the Lightning have an advantage with their offense. In my opinion, Tampa Bay could be the one lifting up the cup at the end of May.

Tampa vs. New Jersey


Mahon’s Prediction: Tampa Bay, Henn’s Prediction: Tampa Bay

Boston vs Toronto

        This could be the best series to watch in the Eastern Conference. The Boston Bruins are a physical defensive team that includes Zdeno Chara, Tory Krug, and Brandon Carlo. They also have veteran goaltender Tuuka Rask who is coming off a solid regular season. The offense is no joke either and it includes David Pastrnak, who put an 85 points this season. The Bruins also have key veterans on the roster. Patrice Bergeron was second on the team in points. Leading the team in points was the pesky player Brad Marchand, who had 31 goals and 51 assist. Marchand is a player you love as a teammate but hate as a fan. They are one of the deepest teams in the playoffs to watch out for. They will face off against the young Toronto Maple Leafs. The Maple Leafs have a strong advantage because of their head coach Mike Babcock. Babcock has many years of playoff experience from Detroit that he brought in. Austin Matthews put of 30 goals, even with missing 20 games. Mitch Marner and Will Nylander will also play a big part in the team during the playoffs.

Boston and Toronto battle it out


Mahon’s Prediction: Boston, Henn’s Prediction: Toronto

Washington vs Columbus

These are two teams that have one thing in common. They can’t seem to make a run in the playoffs. The Capitals are obviously led every year by Alexander Ovechkin, who just came up short of 50 goals this season. The Capitals have an underrated defense, with lots of skill. Dmitry Orlov, John Carlson, Matt Niskanen, and Brooks Orpik. And you can never forget about Nicklas Backstrom, who seems like he puts up 20+ goals every year. The Capitals will overpower the Columbus defense, so Sergei Bobrovsky has to be on his A game. The Blue Jackets going into their second straight year in the playoffs. The Blue Jackets are led by Artemi Panarin, who had 82 points during the season. The Blue Jackets are going to need more help than just Panarin if they want to have any shot of advancing. Cam Atkinson needs to put the puck in the net along with Nick Foligno. Seth Jones will be a major key on the movement of the power play. The Blue Jackets have never made it out of the first round of the playoffs before. They have not showed me that they will ever make it out of the first round. Sorry Columbus fans, you can always dream of a Stanley Cup.

Patrick McDermott
Washington vs. Columbus

Mahon’s Prediction: Washington, Henn’s Prediction: Columbus

Pittsburgh vs Philadelphia

Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. What could get any better? These two teams have always hated each other and this year is no different. First off, the Penguins are coming off back to back Stanley Cups, the first team to do it since the 1997 and 1998 Red Wings. No team has ever won three in a row. Again, the Penguins fuel on Sidney Crosby’s energy. Crosby is coming off a typical Crosby year, 80 points. But the Flyer are no fan of Crosby and the rest of Pittsburgh. Philadelphia is back in the playoffs and they are ready to win. Claude Giroux is a natural center that can win key face-offs if needed. He has some of the best hands I have ever seen watching hockey. And the defense is young and very good. Shane Gostisbehere can basically do everything. He can move the puck well up the ice, he can shoot, and he can play solid defense. In this series, the Flyers will win physically, but the Penguins will win with skill. It will be a fun series, but the hitting will win. Sorry Pittsburgh, I think the three-peat dreams will be crushed.

The battle of Pennsylvania

Mahon’s Prediction: Philadelphia, Henn’s Prediction: Pittsburgh  

Western Conference

Nashville vs. Colorado

The Nashville Predators are coming into the Playoffs as the team to beat this year. Last year Nashville squeaked into the playoffs with the second Wild Card spot in the Western Conference. They managed to take the organization to its first Western Conference championship and first Stanley Cup appearance. However, they fell short to a great Pittsburg Penguins team in a 4-2 series. This year Nashville has their eyes on the prize hoping to bring home their first ever Stanley Cup. Led by Vicktor Arvidsson with 29 goals this season. Led also by P.K Subban and Roman Josi, two of the best defenseman in the game. Nashville also has great goaltending led by Pekka Rinne who is defined has the backbone of the Nashville team. Colorado Avalanche is a team who has been turning the program around. After the Avalanche missed the playoffs last year they have molded into a highly skilled team that should not be overlooked. Led by forward Nathan Mackinnon with 39 goals this year, the Predators are faced with well-built Colorado offense. The Avalanche does lack a good defense and they have suffered Erik Johnson a defenseman with an injury and starting goaltender Semyon Varlamov, this will be a struggle for the Avalanche.

Nashville and Colorado take on each other

Henn’s Prediction: Nashville, Mahon’s Prediction: Nashville

Winnipeg Jets vs. Minnesota Wild

The Winnipeg Jets are currently on a tear coming into the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs. They have won the last five games and are currently sitting at an impressive 52-20-10. The Jets are a very physical team and that will be their advantage heading into the playoffs. The team is led by Captain Blake Wheeler with 23 goals and 68 assists and goal scorer Patrik Laine with 44 goals on the season. The Jets have a great power play that will help them get the wins that they need to find themselves in the finals. The team also is led by Connor Hellebuyck who is up for the Veznia trophy for best goaltender of the season. The fans in Winnipeg is also a factor in the playoffs as they are consider one of the most craziest and game changing crowds in all of the league. On the other end the Minnesota Wild are led by Eric Staal who has 42 goals and 34 assists on the year. Devan Dubnyk is in between the pipes for the Wild and he is a very good goalie when he is on his game. The Wild are going to have to continue into the playoffs without their star defenseman Ryan Suter who is out for the rest of the season with an ankle injury.

Wild vs. Jets

Henn’s Prediction: Winnipeg, Mahon’s Prediction: Minnesota

Las Vegas Golden Knights vs. Los Angeles Kings

The Vegas Golden Knights has completely shocked the whole NHL this season so far. They came into the year has the 31st expansion team and has made a big name of themselves. They finished 1st in the Pacific Division which is unheard of by an expansion team and finished with a 51-24-7 record. They team is led by William Karlsson with 43 goals and 35 assists. Also forward James Neal plays a big role on the team with 25 goals on the year. Also led by stalwart goaltender and three time Stanley Cup Champion Marc-Andre Fleury. The team is looking to make a deep playoff run in their first ever Stanley Cup Playoff. The Los Angeles Kings are another physical and gritty team they is looking to make a statement this year’s playoff. They are led by Anze Kopitar who has cumulated 35 goals and 57 assists. The team has a strong offense with Dustin Brown, Tyler Toffoli, and Tanner Pearson. They also have a strong physically defense with Drew Doughty, Jake Muzzin, and Alex Martinez. The Kings are led by goalie Jonathan Quick who posted a 92.1% save percentage this year. The Kings will need to play as a team and have to move the puck around the strong Vegas team if they want to win the series.

Vegas looks to continue historical season

Henn’s Prediction: Las Vegas, Mahon’s Prediction: Los Angeles

               Anaheim Ducks vs. San Jose Sharks

The Anaheim Ducks are a very talented team that often gets overlooked on. They finished second in the Pacific Division and are looking to go all the way to the finals this year. After losing in the Western Conference Championship last year to the Nashville Predators the strong Ducks team is looking to make a bounce back this year. The team is led by Richard Rakell and Ryan Getzlaf. As there are no stand out players for the Ducks team they look more into the whole team to make a difference in the game. They are heading into the playoffs with three star players injured they can make a big difference in the game. Both defenseman Kevin Bieksa and Cam Fowler are out and starting goaltender John Gibson is out with an upper body injury. As for the San Jose Sharks they come into the playoffs with a 45-27-10 record and finished 3rd in the Pacific Division. The Sharks team has a lot of talent with Brent Burns, Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture, and Joe Thornton. Martin Jones is the starting goalie for the Sharks and he is a man that lives for the playoffs. I love Martin Jones play style and I think he is one of the best goalies in the league. The Sharks are a great playoff team and with a healthy roster I think they have a great change of moving on.

Sharks Vs. Ducks               Henn’s Prediction: San Jose, Henn’s Prediction:Anaheim

The stage is set for all of these hardworking teams. Who knows what kind of playoff we can be in for this year? So strap yourself in because the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs are in for a wild ride!


Staff Writer Matt Mahon’s Predictions
Matt Mahon
Staff Writer Jacob Henn’s Predictions