Thursday, April 28, 2016

2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs Preview - Eastern Conference Semifinals

I went 3/4 in the Eastern Conference last round, picking the Capitals Penguins and Lightning while taking the Panthers who lost to the Islanders. Here's a look at the 2nd round match ups in the East:

#1 Washington Capitals vs. WC #2 Pittsburgh Penguins

Season Series: Season Series tied 2-2-0 

October 28th, 2015: Pittsburgh Penguins 3, Washington Capitals 1
December 14th, 2015: Washington Capitals 4, Pittsburgh Penguins 1
March 1st, 2016: Washington Capitals 3, Pittsburgh Penguins 2
April 7, 2016: Pittsburgh Penguins 4, Washington Capitals 3 (OT)

Players to Watch:

Washington: Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Braden Holtby, Evgeny Kuznetsov, John Carlson, Justin Williams

Pittsburgh: Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel, Kris Letang, Trevor Daley, Patric Hornqvist


Washington: Alex Ovechkin

Pittsburgh: Sidney Crosby

Team Leaders:

Goals: Alex Ovechkin/John Carlson (WSH) - 3, Sidney Crosby/Phil Kessel/Patric Hornqvist (PIT) - 3
Assists: Nicklas Backstrom/Marcus Johansson (WSH) - 5, Sidney Crosby/Evgeni Malkin/Nick Bonino (PIT) - 5
Points: Sidney Crosby (PIT) - 8, Nicklas Backstrom (WSH) - 7
Wins: Braden Holtby (WSH) - 4, Matt Murray (PIT) - 3

Series Notes:
-Here we go Sid vs. Ovie for the 2nd time in the playoffs, first since 2009 where the Penguins won in 7 games. 
-However, there is much more to this match up than simply Sid vs. Ovie, these are the two best teams in the Eastern Conference going head to head
-Battle of the Russian superstar center's with Evgeni Malkin vs. Evgeny Kuznetsov, they will go head to head in this series and it will be amazing to watch
-Braden Holtby was very solid in round 1 against the Flyers, he will need to be much better in this series
-Matt Murray will take the net for the Penguins with Fleury still out with a concussion. He was good in round 1 but has a much bigger test than the NHL-best Capitals
-Defenseman to watch in this series are Kris Letang for the Penguins and John Carlson for the Capitals, 2 extremely gifted offensive players
-Both these teams are deep on forward, we know the talent in the top 6 but its going to be the role players that make the difference. Guys like Matt Cullen, Carl Hagelin and Nick Bonino for the Penguins and Jason Chimera, Tom Wilson and Mike Richards for the Capitals
-The Capitals have a tough task at slowing down the Penguins offense, and it starts with the core 4 of Brooks Orpik-John Carlson and Karl Alzner-Matt Niskanen

Prediction: The hype of this series is fantastic, really a great thing for the NHL. It's hard to predict a winner because I think the teams are so even, but for the sake of this prediction I will take the Penguins.


#2 Tampa Bay Lightning vs. WC #1 New York Islanders

Season Series: Islanders won the season series 2-1-0

November 28th, 2015: New York Islanders 3, Tampa Bay Lightning 2
March 25, 2016: Tampa Bay Lightning 7, New York Islanders 4
April 4th, 2016: New York Islanders 5, Tampa Bay Lightning 2

Players to Watch:

Tampa Bay: Nikita Kucherov, Tyler Johnson, Ben Bishop, Jonathan Drouin, Victor Hedman, Brian Boyle

New York: John Tavares, Kyle Okposo, Thomas Greiss, Nick Leddy, Brock Nelson, Frans Nielsen


Tama Bay: Nikita Kucherov

New York: John Tavares

Team Leaders:

Goals: Nikita Kucherov (TBL) - 6, John Tavares (NYI) - 6
Assists: Kyle Okposo (NYI) - 6, Jonathan Drouin/Tyler Johnson (TBL) - 5
Points: John Tavares (NYI) - 11, Nikita Kucherov (TBL) - 9
Wins: Thomas Greiss (NYI) - 5, Ben Bishop (TBL) - 4

Series Notes:
-Due to the Ducks/Predators series I had to wait a day to write these, so the Islanders won game 1 5-3 last night
-John Tavares single-handedly won the the Islanders-Panthers series with a brilliant 5 goals and 9 points in 6 games, including tying game 6 in the last minute and winning it in OT
-The Lightning dismantled the Red Wings in 5 games with ease, Nikita Kucherov leading the way with 5 goals and 8 points in the series
-Ben Bishop was rarely tested in the Red Wings series, he faces a much grittier Islanders team that puts the puck to the net
-Thomas Greiss continues to start with Halak injured, and he was very solid in round 1 against the Panthers
-The Lightning need a big performance out of Victor Hedman in this series, only 1 point in round 1.
-For the Islanders Nick Leddy was fantastic in round 1, he's a player to watch in this series
-Jonathan Drouin continues to shine in the playoffs for the Lightning, he's my player to watch for the Lightning
-A big reason for the Islanders success is their depth on forward, particularly their 4th line as Don Cherry calls it the "best 4th line in the NHL." This is Matt Martin-Casey Cizikas-Cal Clutterbuck and they play a big role for Jack Capuano's team.

Prediction: This is another close series and I had a hard time picking a winner because I believe either team can win. With that being said, I think the Lightning will advance.


This leaves the Eastern Conference Finals as the following match up:

#2 Pittsburgh Penguins vs. #2 Tampa Bay Lightning

Joel Forman - The Forman Faceoff

No comments:

Post a Comment