Looking back on my first round NHL predictions, I got five out of the eight series correct in terms of the teams advancing (the Predators, Coyotes, Blues, Rangers and Devils). Out of those predictions, I only hit one on the head (Blues in 5) while I was barely off on the other four except maybe the Rangers, who I had winning in five but needed seven games. I was completely wrong on the Kings/Canucks, Flyers/Penguins and Capitals/Bruins.
But now looking at the second round match-ups, I can honestly say that I am still pleased with the outcomes. Not necessarily because of the games that will be provided, but because looking at the remaining teams gives me great joy because it upsets the established order that has come to define professional hockey in recent years. There are no Red Wings, no Blackhawks, no Penguins, no Bruins and no Canucks. Instead, viewers will get a nice, heavy dose of what people are not used to seeing, for the most part.
A couple of days ago, you witnessed the unveiling of my first round preview for the Western Conference playoffs. Now you have the grand opportunity to indulge in my Eastern Conference preview. Enjoy.
(1) New York Rangers vs. (8) Ottawa Senators
The Rangers have looked like one of the NHL’s elite teams all season, and who could blame them? They have outstanding goaltending in Henrik Lundqvist, offensive firepower in Marian Gaborik, Brad Richards and Ryan Callahan and a consistent blue line presence with Marc Staal and Dan Girardi. They are a solid team all around and have the “New York” aura around them.
The Senators, after missing the playoffs last year, are back and looking to play spoiler. Led by the always dangerous duo of Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson, Ottawa will always look to their mainstays to guide the team. Defensively, Erik Karlsson and Sergei Gonchar hold down the fort while goalie Craig Anderson has had a decent season in net (2.84 GAA, .913 save percentage).
In order for the Senators to at least stay competitive, they will need superb play from Anderson and have a point-per-game pace from their gunners, Alfredsson and Spezza, along with Milan Michalek. And that is just not happening. The Rangers are too good on all three fronts and should pepper Anderson with enough shots from all angles to make his head spin.
Rangers in 5
BY JOHN SCOTT, Couchsideshow.com contributor
Little did Crosby know that the hit he sustained during the 2011 Winter Classic and the hit the game after would affect his career tremendously. During the 2011 Winter Classic, Dave Steckel accidentally collided with Crosby. Then, instead of sitting out the next game against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Crosby decided to play. Probably not the smartest thing to do, playing with concussion-like symptoms. During the game, he took a hit from behind into the boards from Tampa Bay’s defenseman Victor Hedman.
“I didn’t like them,” Crosby told reporters about the two hits, “you talk about head shots and dealing with them, that’s been something that’s been a pretty big point of interest from general managers and players.”
Taking both of those collisions gave Crosby a severe concussion, causing him to skip the next few games.
Few knew these hits would impact his career a year later. During the Penguins’ game against the Boston Bruins on Dec. 5, 2011, Crosby took another hit, which made him sit out with another concussion.