It’s that time. The regular season separates the men from the boys. The whistles change, the intensity changes, and where smaller players like Johnny Gaudreau of the Calgary Flames had more space and time we see that size still counts in the NHL.
Round Two brings us down to eight teams.
Boston took first blood in game one vs the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Bruins sent the Toronto Maple Leafs home in the first round for the second year in a row. Toronto had added $11M Centre John Tavares and Jake Muzzin, but it wasn’t enough for the Bruins who laid on the body and simply overwhelmed Toronto.
Columbus swept the league leading Tampa Lightning in a shocker. They could be having a bit of a hangover. It’s going to be a long bloody series, but the Hockey Gods may be shining on the Bruins this season.
My pick is the Bruins in 7 games with lots of overtime decisions.
The St. Louis Blues kept their amazing story going with a first game win. Since rookie goalie Jordan Binnington arrived the team literally went from last to starting the second run of the second season.
The Dallas Stars surprised too. They have a tough gritty defense and some star power on their first line with Captain Jamie Benn, Center Tyler Seguin, and one of this writer’s faves, Alex Radulov.
My pick: St. Louis in 6.
The Carolina Hurricanes Magical season continues into the second round. They somehow survived Alex Ovechkin and the Stanley Cup winning Capitals from last season!
Led by their captain and playoff hero Justin Williams they just may have an easier time against the New York Islanders than the Caps.
The Islanders showed the importance of top quality coaching. Despite losing John Tavares the team made the playoffs under for Washington coach Barry Trotz.
This should be a toughly fought series, but I’m going to give the nod to Carolina in 7 games.
and finally Colorado vs San Jose.
The Sharks were all but written off after Martin Jones forgot how to stop pucks, but things change and after the return of Marc Edourd Vlassic to the D corp from injury, Jones and the Sharks stormed back and took the series, especially thanks to some heroics from Centre Tomas Hertl.
Now they have to figure out how to stop the first line of Colorado. That’s the trick, but it’s a big trick.
I’m going to swim with the Sharks in the round, and in five games.
What do you think? Which teams will move forward?