NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2017
First Round Preview
There are plenty of intriguing and exciting matchups that should make for tough decisions in your FanPicks NHL cash league (Enter Now). To help you out and give you some insight into each series, we break them down one by one.
MINNESOTA WILD (49-25-8) vs. ST. LOUIS BLUES (46-29-7)
Season series (3-2 STL)
Trade deadline buyer (Minnesota) versus trade deadline seller (St. Louis), but the way these teams played after the deadline, you’d think their outlooks would have been flipped. The Blues were tremendous down the stretch and re-established themselves as a Cup contender, even if they’re a bit more of an outside shot than they had been in recent years. The Wild, meantime, slowed considerably down the stretch, but still have plenty of depth and scoring which could be tough to handle.
MONTREAL CANADIENS (47-26-9) vs. NEW YORK RANGERS (48-28-6)
Season Series (3-0 MTL)
When these two teams met in the 2014 Eastern Conference final, Rangers forward Chris Kreider crashed the crease and injured goalie Carey Price, forcing the Canadiens’ MVP out for the rest of the series. The Habs return to the playoffs with a healthy Price, while the Rangers look to avoid back-to-back first-round eliminations. The Habs may have won the Atlantic Division, but the wild card Rangers were a 100-point team themselves in the Metro Division, the NHL’s toughest this season.
Season series (3-1-1 EDM)
The Oilers are back in the playoffs for the first time since many of their core players were in elementary school and their first test is last year’s Western Conference champs. The Oilers are a fast team, which is the kind of game that sunk the Sharks in the Stanley Cup final last season — but with youth comes inexperience. As they say, sometimes you need to lose before you can succeed. However, there have been plenty of exceptions to that rule over the years.
OTTAWA SENATORS (44-28-10) vs. BOSTON BRUINS (44-31-7)
Season series (4-0 OTT)
This will be the first meeting between the Senators and Bruins in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, as Boston captain Zdeno Chara gets a crack at a team that chose to move on without him many moons ago. The Bruins recovered from a bad start after firing their long time coach, while the Senators are one of the more confounding teams in the league this season. It should make for a very interesting first round series.
CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS (50-23-9) vs. NASHVILLE PREDATORS (41-29-12)
Season series (4-1 CHI)
Long-time rivals, but it’s more of a one-way street, with the Original Six Blackhawks a modern dynasty, and the 1998-expansion Predators still searching for their true breakthrough year. This was supposed to be the year Nashville really arrived as a contender after the big-splash summer acquisition of defenceman P.K. Subban, but they face the biggest test they could have in Round 1.
PITTSBURGH PENGUINS (50-21-11) vs. COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS (50-24-8)
Season series (2-1-1 Tie)
The Jackets return to the playoffs for the first time since 2014, when they were ousted by the Penguins in six games. Columbus comes in cold, but still have safety net Sergei Bobrovsky coming off one of his best seasons that will have him in the Vezina and perhaps even Hart Trophy conversations. In their third Stanley Cup Playoffs appearance, the Jackets are still looking for their first series win. The defending champion Penguins, meanwhile, will continue on without top defenceman Kris Letang, but we know all about their top weapons and rookie Matt Murray, who already has a Stanley Cup ring.
ANAHEIM DUCKS (46-23-13) vs. CALGARY FLAMES (45-33-5)
Season series (3-2 ANA)
The Ducks are the veteran team who’s been here many times before, while the Flames are just getting started and seeing the first shine through an opening window. Anaheim comes with the pressure of needing to win, while the Flames caught fire in the second half and bring a free-wheeling and exciting game. How that holds up against the tight-checking Ducks remains to be seen.
WASHINGTON CAPITALS (55-19-8) vs. TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS (40-27-15)
Season series (2-1 WSH)
Congratulations to the Toronto Maple Leafs, who get back into the playoffs with an exciting core of youth. Your prize? The Eastern Conference behemoth known as the Washington Capitals. Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and all the Leafs’ rookies will be thrown right to the wolves, but have nothing to lose. The Caps, meanwhile, would be devastated if an upset is in the cards here.