Jon and Danny will be collaborating on a blog to quickly preview and highlight the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The guys did a podcast on the topic which can be found here:
In this blog they will highlight who they each like in the first round match-up and why
1 Dallas vs. 4(wc2) Minnesota
Danny Says: This game is difficult to pick because neither team has really had much playoff success in recent years. Minnesota always seems to draw the short stick and gets stuck with one of the best teams in the field. Luckily for them, Dallas has had their own playoff struggles and I think they will be exploited this year. Dallas can score with anyone but they have difficulty stopping the puck witch is vital for a deep run. Would not be shocked to see some playoff magic early on.
Pick: Wild in 7
Jon Says: Two teams that seem to struggle every season when mid to late April rolls around. The Wild have had terrible luck in drawing the Kings and Blackhawks in recent years in the first round. While the Stars seem to show all season long they can contend but when push comes to shove they falter. This match up should be high scoring, as both teams know how to light the lamp. This match up will come down to which goaltender can hold up long enough each night to give their team the victory.
Pick: Dallas in 7 (the games might not match up with podcast prediction, but the team is right.)
2 St. Louis vs. 3 Chicago
Danny Says: There is one thing that I have learned not to do in the playoffs: pick against a Joel Quenneville coached team in the playoffs. Even if they don’t have their best team, which they don’t, the Blackhawks always find a way to create some magic in the postseason. On the other hand, the Blues have been knocking on the door of a playoff run for about 5 years now but can’t seem to get over the hump and they might have their best team this year.
Pick: Blackhawks in 6
Jon Says: Joel Quenneville is to playoff hockey what Tom Izzo is to March Madness, through at least the first three rounds it’s hard to pick against their teams. This match up between Chicago and St. Louis is almost an early 1 and 2 seed match up, a late season slump has Chicago has a seed not everyone see’s them as. The reigning champs will be looking to gain momentum from the first drop of the puck. St. Louis will not make it easy on them, in recent years we have seen the Blues as one of the more physical teams in the west during the playoffs, and it Chicago wants to get back to the cup they will have a tough task in beating the Blues.
Pick: Chicago in 6
1 Anaheim vs. 4(wc1) Nashville
Danny Says: Both teams have been known to have solid regular seasons only to then collapse come playoff time. This year doesn’t seem to be any different, but lucky for them, one team has to win. Both Anaheim and Nashville have solid veteran players that are the backbones of their roster, however I think that the Ducks have more experience and their ability to score will overshadow their weaknesses in this match up.
Pick: Ducks in 6
Jon Says: Anaheim might be one of the best teams coming into the playoffs, they have truly turned the corner since the All-Star break. Both of these teams don’t have much to look back upon in recent seasons when it comes to the playoffs. The Pred’s and Ducks seem to hit a wall in April and May. Nashville is another one of those truly physical teams, especially this time of year and it makes sense now more than ever with Peter Laviolette at the helm. He always makes sure his teams play with a certain physicality, if they don’t beat you on the scoreboard that night, they’ll beat you elsewhere.
Pick: Ducks in 6
2 Los Angeles vs. 3 San Jose
Danny Says: The Kings have been alternating championships with the Blackhawks since 2012 and if that pattern holds true, this could be their year. They are certainly made up of a lot of veterans with plenty of postseason experience which never hurts, the key for them will be consistency. The Sharks on the other hand have had little to no playoff success in recent years. They are like the Cincinnati Bengals in the NFL, great regular seasons, horrible postseasons. Unfortunately for the Sharks, that trend continues.
Pick: Kings in 6
Jon Says: The San Jose Sharks, one of hockey’s greatest postseason mysteries. They seem to have had the same core of key players for the past several seasons now, and every year they always fall short in the playoffs. I don’t see this year being any different for the Sharks. The Kings are still a team good enough to compete for the cup, and with a first round win versus the Sharks they will be one step closer to doing just that.
Pick: Kings in 6
1 Washington vs. 4(wc2) Philadelphia
Danny Says: The Capitals had the best season in the NHL this season securing them the President’s Trophy. It’s a big accomplishment, but it comes with a price, very few President’s Trophy winners go on to win the Cup in the same year. Luckily for them they drew the Flyers in the first round who, in my opinion, are still a couple of years away from being a true contender. They have great young tallest that will only get better, but the Caps are just going to be too much for them.
Pick: Capitals in 6
Jon Says: Will the Capitals be the team to finally break that streak of bad luck Presidents Trophy winners have faced in the past? This series against a gritty, resilient Flyers team won’t be easy. The season series between the two teams was split at 2 games apiece, with two of the games going into overtime or a shootout. Philly has been one of the best teams since February and teams that seem to start playing “playoff” hockey just to get into the postseason have fared well before.
Pick: Washington in 7
2 Pittsburgh vs. NY Rangers
Danny Says: No doubt about it, the Penguins have been the hottest team in hockey down the stretch, surging out of nowhere to overtake the Rangers and the Islanders in the Metro to get the second seed. For their troubles, they get the Rangers who have had their number in recent postseasons, and I see that trend continuing. The teams are relatively even matched, the Pens have the stars, the Rangers have the depth, but where the Rangers are far better is in net, and that’s where championships are won. If the blueshirts can stay out of the box and play solid five on five hockey, they can play with anyone in the league.
Pick: Rangers in 7
Jon Says: The Penguins went from the first wild card spot to the number 2 seed in the post season just over 3 weeks of hockey. Yes people, they are that good and possibly the scariest team coming into the playoffs. the Rangers however still have King Henriq in goal and will pose to be a tough out for Pittsburgh to make a run at Lord Stanley’s Cup. Expect a physical series between these two rivals. No team will leave this series without some bumps and bruises.
Pick: Pittsburgh in 7
1 Florida vs. 4(wc1) NY Islanders
Danny Says: Florida was the feel-good team of the NHL this season. They have been in “rebuilding mode” pretty much every year and it is nice to see it finally coming all together. Unfortunately for their fantastic year they get one of the toughest teams in the NHL, the Islanders. Battle tested and feeling the wrath, the Islanders aren’t without issues and they will have rookie backup goalies in net for the postseason. I love the Jagr story this season and he no doubt has the best flow in the game, but I don’t think they will be around for long.
Pick: Islanders in 6
Jon Says: The Florida Panthers have the classy vet in Jagr helping take them for a wild ride this season. They have been one of the best teams in the East all season, but the playoffs are a different animal. The islanders were bounced early last season, and with a wealth of young talent returning this season they have a shot to make some noise early on. Unfortunately for them the young goalie in net may be their Achilles heel in trying to move forward.
Pick: Florida in 6
2 Tampa Bay vs. 3 Detroit
Danny Says: I usually hate picking against an Original Six team in the playoffs because they always seem to have the magic when it counts, but the Red Wings are not the team they used to be. They don’t really have a true identity yet with their new coach and their veterans are only getting older so time is not on their side. Tampa Bay on the other hand is a team that relies on solid goal tending but can survive without it. Unfortunately for them, Stamkos is out for the season and they will need more playoff magic from unlikely sources if they want another chance at the cup.
Pick: Lightning in 7
Jon Says: This season is the last, at least in the NHL, for red wings forward Pavel Datsuyk. This man has been in “Hockeytown” for longer than I can remember and this postseason will be his last, just like “The Joe”. Detroit is going through a faze of rebuilding, starting with a new coach, they will soon have a new arena, and the moving on of some key pieces to a franchise that once owned the West. Tampa Bay on the other hand is a franchise that is coming off of a Stanley Cup Final loss, and that can’t sit well with them. This is a team that will be looking to right their wrongs from last year. But as I said in the podcast I believe that Datsuyk will propel the Red Wings into the next round. At least as a hockey fan I’d love to see it.
Pick: Detroit in 6
Stanley Cup Champion:
Danny: Rangers (over Blackhawks in 6)
Jon: Blackhawks (over Penguins in 7)