Right off the bat it feels as if the West is much tougher to gauge.
More upsets seem possible. For example, both the Winnipeg Jets and Minnesota Wild are being picked by many experts to make runs. It’s not surprising considering how horrid the Anaheim Ducks have been in the playoffs in recent memory.
Apr 2, 2015; Saint Paul, MN, USA; New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh (27) against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center. The Rangers defeated the Wild 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
The once darlings of the regular season – the Nashville Predators – represent to me the easiest West matchup to pick as the playoff tested Chicago Blackhawks will take it in six.
The series of the first round will be the Wild and the St. Louis Blues. While Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk has been unconscious this season (27 wins, 1.78 GAA), somehow David Backes and the Blues will win a Game 7 on home ice.
It won’t be enough to knock off Chicago in the next round, and in fact, whoever comes out of the suspect Pacific Division bracket will find the conference finals tough.
In the East, as long as the New York Rangers find their groove early on in the Pittsburgh Penguins series, they should win a tough, hard-fought second-round matchup against a very good Washington Capitals team.
Although the “Hamburgler” has been a sensational story, he’s never been dissected like he will be in a long playoff series. Montreal is by far the most balanced and deepest team in the East other than New York.
That Eastern Conference finals will be a bloodbath featuring the top two goalies in the league.
By the time the Stanley Cup Finals roll around, the Rangers will finally realize they have the character to overcome a bigger bodied Blackhawks squad.
More from Blue Line Station
- Blake Wheeler’s Broadway Calling: Why He Chose the Rangers
- Rangers’ Playoff Redemption Recipe: Grit and Fresh Hopes
- Rangers’ Roster Chatter: Who’s Making the Cut and Who’s in the Penalty Box?
- Jacque Plante Trade Tree Between the Rangers and Canadiens
- These Rangers must learn Peter Laviolette’s ropes before they can fly