Well that was interesting.
The second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs wasn’t too kind to us as we went 1-3 in our series predictions.
Disappearing acts by Toronto’s ‘Core Four’ and New Jersey goalie Akira Schmid returning to earth didn’t help matters. Edmonton’s secondary scoring and goaltending weren’t good enough but thankfully Dallas salvaged our second-round predictions.
We had the Devils winning their series against the Carolina Hurricanes but we obviously placed too much confidence in Schmid, who was the star of the opening round win against the Rangers but was a bust in the second round. Schmid allowed seven goals on 36 shots in the first two games of the series before relinquishing the starter’s role in game three.
Toronto was supposed to move on as well but Auston Matthews, William Nylander, John Tavares and Mitch Marner were complete no-shows in the series against Florida as they only combined for three goals.
While we are on the Leafs, we can please stop calling this quartet “The Core Four”?
Anyone who watched this series can attest to the fact that Morgan Reilly is the blood and guts of this hockey club as the West Vancouver product was magnificent for the Maple Leafs in the playoffs.
Yeah, I get it. It’s a catchy phrase but it makes absolutely ZERO sense to call that group ‘the core’ and exclude the heart of the hockey club.
As for Florida, we made a big mistake regarding the Panthers.
Teams that go on long runs in the post-season usually have something extraordinary happen early in the playoffs that galvanizes them and gives them a reference point moving forward. Coming back to beat the record-setting Boston Bruins after being down three-games-to-one in their series did just that for the Panthers and has given this team a great deal of confidence moving forward.
The Oilers were a major disappointment as well.
Many had believed they had ‘paid their dues’ last year by reaching the Western Conference Finals and were poised to take the next step.
The Oilers needed more from the likes of Evander Kane, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Zach Hyman as the trio could only combine for two goals against Vegas. It’s also difficult to win a series when your goaltender owns an .875 save percentage – which Edmonton’s Stuart Skinner did.
As for Seattle, they turned into the NHL’s version of the Island of Misfit Toys and relished that role pushing the Dallas Stars to a seventh game.
The Stars’ win saved us from an embarrassing oh-fer in the second round.
EASTERN CONFERENCE FINAL
#M1 CAROLINA versus #WC2 FLORIDA
I love finding quirky little nuggets.
Case in point, do you know during that this post-season Carolina has scored more shorthanded goals (4) than their opponents have on the power play (3)?
Special teams are just another reason why Carolina continues to roll despite not having three of their top forwards in their lineup in Andrei Svechnikov, Max Pacioretty and Teuvo Teravainen although Teravainen is back practicing and will probably draw into the lineup in game one.
Despite missing the aforementioned trio, the Canes are now listed by Las Vegas sports books as the favorites to win the Stanley Cup at +230 with the Golden Knights right behind them at +250 while Dallas is listed at +280. Florida is the longshot of the four remaining teams at +$325.
Part of the reason why the Canes are favored has been how players such as Sebastian Aho, Jesper Fast and Jordan Martinook have stepped up.
The Panthers have had some surprising contributions too.
Remember Zac Dalpe? He played 55 games for the Canucks in 2013-14 tallying four goals in the process.
He’s played in 72 NHL games in the last decade but here he is playing a depth role on the Panthers and now will face the team that drafted him in the second round in of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft.
Do you think Dalpe is savoring all of this?
As for the series, I’m not making the same mistake twice.
The Panthers are giant-killers and the Hurricanes are their next target.
FLORIDA IN SIX
WESTERN CONFERENCE FINAL
#P1 VEGAS versus #C2 DALLAS
I could see myself picking either team in this matchup.
Vegas is in it’s fourth conference final in six years and it wouldn’t surprise anyone if they advanced to the finals based on what we saw versus Edmonton.
Jack Eichel has been a beast for Vegas with Mark Stone, Jonathan Marchessault, Ivan Barbashev, William Karlsson and Chandler Stephenson also playing key roles as this group has accounted for 31 of the Knights 41 goals.
As good as Vegas looks, I’m going to pick the Stars for two reasons.
Goaltending and special teams.
I think Jake Oettinger gives Dallas an edge in goal and the Stars have a decisive advantage when it comes to special teams play. Vegas’ power play is running at 17% while it’s penalty kill is at 60% in these playoffs. The Stars power play is operating at 31% efficiency while their penalty kill is at 83%.
Goaltending and specials win it for the Stars.
DALLAS IN SEVEN
Veteran B.C. sports personality Bob “the Moj” Marjanovich writes twice weekly for Black Press Media. And check out his weekly podcast every Monday at Today in B.C. or your local Black Press Media website.