Intro to the NHL Playoffs: Quick Things to Know About Each Series
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The Stanley Cup playoffs start tomorrow night
Fast turnaround time to say the least. The NHL just announced the schedule for the first round yesterday afternoon, the clashes weren’t even finalized until last night (Colorado beat LA to overtake Vegas for first place in the West Division and take home the trophy. of the Presidents), and the North Division is still finishing its regular season. Hurry up. So here are a few quick lines on each set to get you ready for the playoffs:
(Tap the hyperlinks to watch Rob Pizzo’s preview video for this division.)
(1) Toronto vs. (4) Montreal: It has been 42 years since hockey’s most famous rivals met in the playoffs. This series ended with a sweep of the Guy Lafleur Habs dynasty. It appears to be leaning in the opposite direction, with NHL goalscoring champion Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner (fourth in point) leading a powerful Leafs offense that threatens to overwhelm Montreal.
(2) Edmonton vs. (3) Winnipeg: Connor McDavid is wrapping up one of the best offensive seasons in NHL history. With 104 points in 55 games heading into his regular season final tonight, he’s racking up points at a faster rate than anyone since Mario Lemieux in 1995-96. McDavid and his sidekick, last year’s points leader Leon Draisaitl, have won four of the last five milestone titles. But they’ve only won one playoff series in their previous five seasons together. Winnipeg, with a few high-end forwards and reigning Trophy winner Vezina Connor Hellebuyck at net, has a chance for the puncher to continue that way.
(1) Colorado vs. (4) Saint-Louis: The Avalanche are the betting favorites to win the Stanley Cup, and they should be too much for the Blues even though superstar Nathan MacKinnon is not 100% healthy (he has missed four of the last five games). But the team with the best regular season record hasn’t won the Cup since 2013 (Chicago), and hasn’t even passed the second round since 2015.
(2) Vegas vs. (3) Minnesota: The Wild’s Kirill Kaprizov will take home the Calder Trophy after a phenomenal rookie season in which he scored 27 goals in 55 games. But Vegas has an even better ace in two-way monster Mark Stone, one of the league’s best goalies in ageless Marc-Andre Fleury, and a very deep roster. The Golden Knights could be the best team in the NHL.
(1) Caroline vs. (4) Nashville: Thanks in no small part to little goalie Juuse Saros, the Predators shed a tear in the second half to sneak into the playoffs. But the team with the lowest playoff scoring might struggle to keep up with a Hurricanes attack led by Sebastian Aho who ultimately got the keeper they need to be a true contender. This might shock you, given ‘Canes’ reputation: they have allowed the least 5v5 goals in the league.
(2) Florida vs. (3) Tampa Bay: Despite being the worst seed, the reigning Stanley Cup champions are favored to win the NHL’s first all-Sunshine State series. Two big reinforcements are on the way: 2020 playoff scorer leader Nikita Kucherov is expected to return for Game 1 after missing the entire regular season, and sniper Steven Stamkos is also expected to return after attending the last 16. matches. But with reigning Conn Smythe winner Victor Hedman and Vezina favorite Andrei Vasilevskiy slowing down doesn’t rule out the Panthers. They had a nice brace on the attacker with Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau, who finished 10th and 14th respectively in points per game.
(1) Pittsburgh vs. (4) New York Islanders: Sidney Crosby has had another fantastic season, and Evgeni Malkin’s return from a lower body injury that cost him two months is huge for the Penguins’ Cup prospects. But the Islanders are masters of playoff upheaval: They swept Pittsburgh in the first round in 2019 and toppled Washington and Philly last year before falling to eventual Cup champion Lightning.
(2) Washington vs. (3) Boston: Brad Marchand is No. 3 in the NHL scoring race, and the trio of Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak could still be the toughest line in the league to face. The Bruins added Taylor Hall to the trade deadline, and they have won 12 of their 17 games since. Washington limps in the playoffs: Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, John Carlson and TJ Oshie all missed time recently with injuries, while Evgeny Kuznetsov and goalie Ilya Samsonov are still on the COVID-19 protocol list.
A little reminder of the playoff format: The first two rounds are intra-divisional. Then, the four division champions are reseeded based on regular season points, # 1 against # 4 and # 2 against # 3. The winners of these series play for the Stanley Cup. All series are the best of the seven.
Calendar Notes: The playoffs begin Saturday at 7:15 p.m. ET with the first game of the Washington-Boston series, followed by the opening games of the Pittsburgh-Islanders, Vegas-Minnesota and Tampa-Florida on Sunday. Carolina-Nashville and Colorado-St. Louis starts Monday. Edmonton-Winnipeg starts on Wednesday and Toronto-Montreal on Thursday. Check out the full schedules and TV news for each series here.
Bianca Andreescu is out again. The Canadian tennis star has pulled out of next week’s event in Parma, Italy with what the WTA Tour has called “continuing illness.” The strange thing is that Andreescu appeared to be doing well after missing the Madrid Open from April 29 to May 8 due to a positive coronavirus test. She suggested that she could have played at this week’s Italian Open, but decided to ignore it because, she said, Italy’s quarantine rules could have put her “in danger of being isolated again “. Andreescu hasn’t played since leaving the Miami Open final on April 3. With the French Open starting in about two weeks, she is running out of opportunities to sharpen her game on clay. Learn more about Andreescu’s latest withdrawal here.
Jessie Fleming can join an exclusive Canadian soccer roster. Should Chelsea beat Barcelona in Sunday’s Women’s Champions League final, Fleming will join Kadeisha Buchanan and Alphonso Davies as the only Canadians to win the sport’s most prestigious club trophy. Last year Davies won the Men’s Champions League title as a rookie with Bayern Munich, while Buchanan won their fourth straight women’s league title with Lyon. Unlike those two, Fleming isn’t a starter – she didn’t even see the field in both rounds of Chelsea’s semi-final against Bayern. But she was there for the final whistle last Sunday when Chelsea clinched their second straight English league title. Learn more about the young midfielder, who will try to win another Olympic medal with the Canadian national team this summer, in this story from CBC Sports collaborator John Molinaro.
Latest dispute in trial of Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk appears Succession. It involves a $ 500,000 a week superyacht, a Christmas vacation in the Bahamas (at a time when much of Canada was on lockdown) and stuff like getting mad at the salted British captain for (allegedly) turning over your guests. . seasickness. Learn more about the (Roy) Melnyk family’s misadventures at sea here.
This weekend on CBC Sports
Olympic Qualifying Regatta for the World Rowing Final: Seven Canadian boats have already secured their places in Tokyo, and three others can join them through this competition in Switzerland. Stream the races live Saturday from 4 to 8:30 a.m. ET on CBCSports.ca and the CBC Sports app.
Replay of the Olympic Games: The theme of this week’s show is “Canada’s Track and Field Giants”. Relive iconic moments like Ben Johnson’s (short-lived) victory in the men’s 100-meter final in 1988, Donovan Bailey’s cathartic victory in Atlanta eight years later, and Andre De Grasse’s battles with Usain Bolt in the 100 and 200 in 2016. Watch the show Le Saturdays from 4 pm to 6 pm ET on the CBC television network, CBCSports.ca and the CBC Sports app.
Dream Gap Women’s Hockey Tour: Watch two of the US Professional Women’s Hockey Players’ Association teams compete in St. Louis Sunday at 1 p.m. ET on CBCSports.ca and the CBC Sports app.
You are aware. Have a nice week end.