With the qualification round behind us and the lottery drama all sorted out, we can sit back and enjoy some real playoff hockey. As you probably all know, last night marked the end of the draft lottery saga with the New York Rangers winning the first overall pick. This also means that the Leafs first round pick officially goes to the Carolina Hurricanes, and the selection landing 13th overall.
With the playoffs promising at least four games a day, it should make for an entertaining upcoming few weeks. Starting off the playoffs are some interesting match-ups, including a re-match of last year’s first round surprising upset between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Columbus Blue Jackets, as well as a test for the newly-charged Chicago Blackhawks as they face the Las Vegas Golden Knights.
Columbus Blue Jackets @ Tampa Bay Lightning, 3 pm EST, Game 1, Series 0-0
- Remember last year when the Tampa Bay Lightning went through the regular season without breaking a sweat and then got completely bulldozed by the Columbus Blue Jackets and were swept in the first round? Wasn’t that fun? Well, not for Tampa fans but definitely for the rest of us. Well this year around, the Columbus Blue Jackets enter this series coming off a qualifying round in which once again they upset a team highly favoured by most experts . At this point, the Bolts may be the “favourites” but if recent history has taught us anything it’s to never rule out the mighty Blue Jackets.
Calgary Flames @ Dallas Stars, 5:30 pm EST, Game 1, Series 0-0
- I think this series is a bit underrated, and I expect a lot of excitement to come out of it. The more pressing question: who will Matthew Tkachuk piss off this time? While the Calgary Flames did beat a nominally offensively strong Winnipeg Jets team, they did get a bit of an easier pass with both Mark Scheifele and Patrik Laine injured in the first game. The Dallas Stars meanwhile were biding their time in the round-robin against top notch opponents.
Carolina Hurricanes @ Boston Bruins, 8:00 pm EST, Game 1, Series 0-0
- The Canes may have done the New York Rangers the biggest favour in their franchise’s history by sweeping them last week, allowing the Rangers the chance to win the draft lottery. The Canes have had the longest break among the remaining teams, and the Bruins are coming off a round robin worth forgetting. While I do think the Canes are an entertaining team that shouldn’t be taken lightly, the Bruins have had their practice run and will probably be motivated to prove that their regular season performance wasn’t a fluke.
Chicago Blackhawks @ Las Vegas Golden Knights, 10:30 pm EST, Gam 1, Series 0-0
- This could be another extremely entertaining series but it all depends on which Blackhawks team shows up against the Golden Knights. Will they be able to defend at all? Will Mark Stone take over this series, or will the Blackhawks continue to thrive off the leadership of their stars who have plenty of playoff experience?