If you've been wanting to talk some NHL playoffs with the community here at The Cannon - here you go! Better late than never, right?
The first round is potentially showing us a power shift at the top of the NHL. Because of the playoff formatting implemented in 2014, there are no longer conference seeds 1-8. If that were the case, St. Louis would be playing Nashville in the West and Chicago would be taking on San Jose. Instead, you have the two Central Division rivals battling it out in the first round and the Blackhawks are up against it right now.
The Blackhawks, the darlings of the league for the last six years, face a 3-1 series deficit against the Blues with game 5 on the road tonight. Similarly, the Red Wings are also down 3-1 with their game 5 on the road in Tampa Bay. Both Chicago and Detroit could be out of the postseason before we even get to May.
The L.A. Kings are also on the ropes as Brent Burns and company took care of business thanks to their power play last night. The Kings will host game 5, down 3-1, but the Sharks took the first two games in L.A. already this series. Burns is having some kind of year in San Jose - career highs in the regular season with 27-48-75 and he already has 2-3-5 in the first four games of the opening series.
The Stars took a commanding 3-1 lead in the other Central Division series last night, even making a goaltender change after dropping game 3. The Ducks made a change in net as well and responded with a shutout win in Nashville where the Preds still hold a 2-1 lead in that series.
In the Metro, Washington looked unstoppable before hitting a bump last night in dropping game 4. Shocker for Philadelphia - Steve Mason is 0-3 while goalies not named Steve Mason are 1-0. The Penguins & Rangers series has seen some goalie injuries, but Pittsburgh has responded even without Fleury. The Pens have a 2-1 series lead in that one.
The Florida Panthers responded last night with a 2-1 win in Brooklyn to even up their series with the Islanders at 2-2. Game 5 shifts back to Sunrise, Florida, where maybe this time they can actually sell out the building?
Obviously there is plenty of hockey left to be played in this opening round. Some of these matchups feel deserving of the 2nd round or even a Conference Final, but due to the imbalance of the conferences and the playoff format these are the matchups we get this year. Those West coast starts are late, but the Sharks & Kings have provided plenty of entertaining hockey.
What has stuck out to you in the opening week of the playoffs? Do you think the recent powers (Hawks, Wings, Kings) make it to a game 6?