If you haven’t already, you’ll want to purchase your playoff draft roster from the Dobber Store. This is a fully customizable spreadsheet that allows you to register your teams to win and determine playoff standings. Or if you’re not sure, you can use Dobber’s choices. Get yours at the Dobber Sports store before your playoff pool deadline.
If you need more guidance on making your playoff picks, our editors will provide their picks later today. As a bonus this year, you’ll also see DFS picks and play picks on select days throughout the playoffs.
Today, I’m going to give you an overview of my own choices, as well as the rationale I used to make those choices. I will add the disclaimer that I have been wrong thousands of times when it comes to picking the series winners. They are by no means lead locks and no analytical model justifies my choices. I’m just explaining how I see things. Maybe it also helps you in your swimming pools.
Florida vs. Washington – Florida in 6
The President’s Trophy-winning Panthers will be a popular choice for the Stanley Cup Finals for obvious reasons. Yet, are they playing the style of hockey needed to get there? Also, can their goalie hold on? I could see a scenario where they don’t make it because winning with high-scoring games doesn’t work as well in the playoffs as it does in the regular season. I picked them at the start of the season to make the final, so I’m going to stick with that pick.
If they lose, it’s not in this round. The Washington goalie is suspect (I think they’re better off with Vitek Vanecek than Ilya Samsonov). And we don’t know if Alex Ovechkin is 100%. It might, however, be a more competitive series than you think.
Carolina vs. Boston – Boston in 7
If Frederik Andersen is okay, I’ll take the Hurricanes. However, Antti Raanta can’t seem to play more than a few games without getting injured. The Canes are a possession team that don’t have to rely on their goalie anyway, which should still make this series competitive.
In the Ramblings yesterday, I cited the game of the season, which was 16-1 in favor of Carolina. Obviously the series won’t end that way, but it at least shows that Carolina isn’t a bad choice at all here if you were to lean that way.
Pittsburgh vs. NY Rangers – NY Rangers in 6
It could be a final hurray for the Penguins, with Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang set to become UFA this offseason. Pittsburgh has lost in the first round or qualifying round each of the past three seasons, so I don’t know if there’s anything different about the Penguins this season that would make them past the first round. I’m not sure about Tristan Jarry’s health, while Rangers have a keeper they can ride in Igor Shesterkin.
Toronto vs. Tampa Bay – Tampa Bay in 7
I know Toronto gets bad press for folding like a cheap suit in the first round. But I compare their fate to that of their baseball neighbors, the Blue Jays. Both play in an absolutely grueling division with a tough path. I know the Leafs had what seemed like a golden opportunity last season in the North Division, but remember Montreal won two more playoffs after eliminating the Leafs in 7. It still feels like a missed opportunity , however.
You’d think Tampa would be exhausted after two consecutive Stanley Cups. Not so if you’ve seen them lately, especially Steven Stamkos. They look like a team that could still win it all (triple). I’d have to bet on the team that already has victory in their DNA, although in reality the rosters stack pretty evenly.
Colorado vs. Nashville – Colorado in 5
Colorado is in a similar situation to Florida. I chose them to go to the Finals, and for them specifically to win the Stanley Cup. They play a high-octane game that may be better suited to the regular season than the playoffs. So there are many reasons why they could be eliminated before the final.
Like Florida, that won’t happen in this round. Assuming Juuse Saros is on the shelf for the playoffs, Nashville will have to rely on David Rittich and maybe even Connor Ingram. I think their physical style could help them scrape and fight their way to victory in front of the vocal Smashville crowd. But without Saros, Colorado will be more than it can handle.
Calgary vs. Dallas – Calgary in 5
Calgary clearly looks like the better team; however, Dallas eliminated the Flames two seasons ago in the bubble. But that’s about all I can muster for the Stars. Both teams rely heavily on a line, but Calgary has been the strongest in the league this season. The Flames also have an advantage in net with Jacob Markstrom over Jake Oettinger.
Minnesota vs. St. Louis – St. Louis in 7
It’s the only series I could see going both ways. Maybe 51% Blues, 49% Wild? Minnesota has the home advantage, but St. Louis has won all three of its games against the Wild this season – two in overtime and the other in the Winter Classic. I just like the Blues’ scoring depth a bit more.
Both teams play heavyweight hockey and roll three solid score lines, which could make for a great series with plenty of potential subplots. I wouldn’t be surprised if all four Guardians see some action in this series as well. Could be fun to watch.
Edmonton vs Los Angeles – Edmonton in 6
We’ve seen the Oilers implode at various times this season, and I wouldn’t be shocked if it happened again here. Still, they’re the second-best team in the league since Jay Woodcroft took over on Feb. 11 (.724 winning percentage). Evander Kane’s bet has paid off, and Mike Smith is not only perfectly healthy, but also one of the hottest goalies in the league.
The Kings stumbled a bit in the streak before solidifying their playoff spot with wins over weaker opponents. I would give them a better chance if Drew Doughty was in the lineup, and I congratulate them for coming this far despite all their injuries on defense. But Edmonton is the team with the two best players in the series (Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl).
I was going to post it yesterday, but I completely forgot. There was a lot of offensive production yesterday, even with a few star players seated.
The day after (most of) the regular season ends, there’s no Black Monday feel like the NFL in terms of losing coaching jobs. Still, at least one team will have a new head coach next season, as the Red Wings have decided to part ways with Jeff Blashill. I wrote the Fantasy Take for this transaction. I don’t know if there will be too many coaching changes this offseason, as there have already been several this season, but Blashill’s name is the first that came to mind when I thought about the coaches who could leave.
Some of the names on this list are interim managers, so there could be more changes from here. Philly looks like one. Winnipeg also appears to be a possibility. Chicago seemed to improve after their change, so I’d say they’re sticking with Derek King. Hopefully Vancouver and Bruce Boudreau get along, but if not, there’s another one right there.
At a Friday press conference, Carey Price revealed that the condition of his surgically repaired knee could force him into retirement. Price still seems to be gearing up for next season, but he’s far from certain at this point. Another surgery could be an option, which depending on the timing, could delay Price’s start to next season.
Keith Yandle will retire from the NHL, according to Philly Hockey Now. He will be best known for breaking the NHL’s Ironman streak, which reached 989 games. Yandle was a power-play specialist who hit a career-high 62 points and 39 power-play points three seasons ago with the Panthers. Unfortunately, he finished with a league-worst minus-46 this season. All the best to him in retirement.