Eastern Conference Playoff Preview

Tampa Bay Lightning Vs. Columbus Blue Jackets

There’s a lot I like about Columbus – specifically, there’s a lot of players I like. Artemi Panarin, Cam Atkinson, Seth Jones, Sergei Bobrovsky are all marquee talents with personality. Zach Werenski and Alexander Wennberg have lost a bit of shine from their early career success but still have the tools to become stars. Matt Duchene as a deadline addition. These will all add up to? An unceremonious first round exit. I’m sorry but the Lightning are head and shoulders above the rest of the league and Columbus lack the plucky x-factor required to knock off the lightning powerhouse. Maybe no one does – they just don’t have an area where they’re deficient.

Lightning in 5 over Columbus

Toronto Maple Leafs Vs. Boston Bruins

Are Auston Matthews and John Tavares better than David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron? Is Morgan Rielly better than an aging Zdeno Chara? Is Frederik Andersen better than Tuukka Rask? You could make a case for any of the above. So that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. This is a homer pick kids, I can’t in good conscience as a Leaf fan commit to paper the idea that we aren’t taking home the Cup.

Maple Leafs in 7 over Boston

Washington Capitals Vs. Carolina Hurricanes

Yeah, yeah the Storm Surge is cute. The Capitals are also the reigning Stanley Cup Champions. They have character, a strong team identity, experience and an organization that has everyone on board from top management down. Sebastian Aho is a great player, but he’s no Alex Ovechkin. Given how long it took them to get to the top and the jeers that they endured along the way they’re not even susceptible to the malaise and reduced hunger that comes with winning.  There’s a lot I like about the Cane, but way more I like about Washington. I think Washington will murder Carolina, especially if Holtby remembers how to play net.

Capitals in 5 over Hurricanes

Pittsburgh Penguins Vs. New York Islanders

Barry Trotz, we hardly knew ye – Trotz was the x-factor that changed Washington from perennial contender to reigning Champ. Can he do the same on the Island? Well, No. Trotz had a ton of talent in Washington. He had a ton of talent in Nashville too, but could never get them over the hump. He has way less talent now. He’s spun straw into gold, but Sidney Crosby will be the last straw. Crosby’s playing at his usual high level. Evgeni Malkin isn’t? But we’ve seen him flip the switch before. Pittsburgh’s D has seemed more together this year than in years past, they have their best GA/G ranking in three years.

Penguins in 5 over Islanders