Round 1 of the NHL Playoffs was exciting but definitely weird. The first round had the most overtime games (18) in one round but no game 7s with 2 sweeps. The Blackhawks got swept by the wild-card Predators. Jake Allen, who has been awful all season, single-handedly won the Blues their round. The Maple Leafs actually brought the Capitals to 6 games. Tanner Glass had more goals than Max Pacioretty. After not being in the league for a year, Zack Kassian had his name in Rogers Place shouted. Lastly, after not playing for 18 months due to concussions, Clarke McArthur became a significant factor for the Senators. Anything can happen in round 2. I wouldn’t be surprised if any of these 8 teams make their conference finals. Here are their power rankings.
1 Nashville Predators
[the_ad id=”384″]Not only did Nashville sweep the Blackhawks, which is no easy feat, but they also dominated them. Nashville is the first 8th seed (or WC2) to sweep the 1st seed in NHL history. They’ve earned it. Rinne had 2 shutouts and gave up 3 goals throughout the four games. Johansen and Forsberg have been pretty good on offense. They both have 5 points. They’ve been stellar on both offense and defense. Rinne has a GAA of .70 and .976 SV%, which is entirely sustainable. They say whoever has the hottest goalie in the playoffs has the biggest advantage and that’s why the Preds are first.
2 Pittsburgh Penguins
Although the Blue Jackets were the 4th best team in the league. The 2nd best team, the Pittsburgh Penguins, dominated them in 5 games and made it look easy. Especially since they didn’t have Murray and Letang for the entire series. Fleury has been good in Murray’s absence. Of course, when Malkin, Crosby, and Kessel are performing, this team can beat anyone. Evgeni Malkin has, by far, the most points this round with 11. The Penguins likely won’t have Letang for the next round against the Caps and Murray could return at any moment. The biggest question for Pittsburgh now is: will Fleury keep it up? or if Murray is back, will he be ready? Without that question-mark, the Penguins would be ranked 1st.
3 Anaheim Ducks
The Anaheim Ducks swept the Calgary Flames without too much effort. The Ducks haven’t lost in regulation in 18 consecutive games. Getzlaf and Perry usually have to step up for the Ducks to have a chance in the playoffs. But players like Theodore, Rakell, and Thompson have all picked up their game. Getzlaf has been good with 5 points, but Perry and Kesler haven’t gotten going, which will be important for the Ducks if they want to continue.
4 St Louis Blues
The only goalie who is arguably hotter than Rinne right now is Jake Allen and they will face off in the next round. Allen is a different goaltender since Ken Hitchcock was fired. Allen has given up 8 goals in 5 games with an SV % of .957. 3 of those 8 goals came in the last game. He’s been good all series especially in Game 1 where he stopped 51 shots. The crazy thing about the Blues is Vlad Tarasenko, the Blues best scorer only has 3 points. It will be interesting to see if Allen can continue to be amazing and if Tarasenko can get going, then the Blues will truly be scary. They’ll need them both.
5 Washington Capitals
The Capitals were the big favorites going into the playoffs, yet they struggled against the Maple Leafs. The Leafs gave the Caps some fight but Washington could have been better. Oshie, Backstrom, and Williams all were good, but the rest of the Capitals has to get going, especially Ovechkin. Holtby also has to step up with a .930 SV % and 2.37 GAA, which isn’t terrible but not for Holtby’s standards. Penguins have a huge question mark in goal with the uncertainty of their goalie situation, this could be the chance for the Capitals to get over that hump but they’ll need to be on their game.
6 New York Rangers
[the_ad id=”693″]The Rangers do not feel like a wild card team, considering they finished with 102 points, which puts them 1 point behind their first round opponent the Montreal Canadiens. Lundqvist did what he had to do to defeat the Habs in 6 games. Hank’s SV% is .947, and his GAA is 1.70. On the offensive front, isn’t as great. The highest points scorer is Mika Zibanejad with 4 points. If the Rangers want to go far, Zuccarello, Nash, Zibanejad, Kreider, Miller and Stepan all have to produce. Even though, The Rangers will play the Senators, a team that New York is 4 points better than, they won’t have home-ice advantage. So, this should be an intriguing match-up.
7 Edmonton Oilers
The team that hasn’t made the playoffs in 10 years and won 4 lotteries is on to the next round makes Edmonton the feel-good story. The Oilers haven’t scored a lot in the 1st round. Their highest point scorer in 6 games is Connor McDavid with 4. Role players like Letestu and Kassian have picked up their slack. Kassian had a couple of game-winning goals and a lot of huge hits. Huge shout out to Talbot and Klefbom for raising their game. They should give the Ducks an interesting battle, but they need to pick up the scoring.
8 Ottawa Senators
All the games in the Sens-Bruins series were decided by one goal. The Bruins were scarred with injuries, especially on defense. With 6 points and a couple of highlight-reel assists, Erik Karlsson proved why he’s a two-time Norris Trophy winner in this series. He made a big difference. Ryan and Brassard have also been great. As long as Karlsson is on his game, the Sens are always going to have a shot. However, they’ll need to get their offense going if they want to defeat Hank and the Rangers.