The first round of the NHL playoffs may have been better than advertised. Between upsets and countless overtimes, this round was as thrilling as it gets. The matchups for the second round would venture one to guess these playoffs will only get better.
Chicago Blackhawks vs. Nashville Predators (NSH 4-0):
This series was complete and utter domination from the very beginning. The Blackhawks didn’t score a goal until Game 3 and got run out of the playoffs before they even got going. Many in the Chicago locker room called this series an embarrassment. The Blackhawks are used to success and, in their eyes, getting swept was unacceptable. With that said, lots of credit should be given to Nashville. They were the better team all series and should be a very dangerous team looking forward.
Minnesota Wild vs. St. Louis Blues (STL 4-1):
This was supposed to be the year the Wild finally got over that hump and got out of the first round. They were the better team all season long, and then the playoffs started. St. Louis jumped out to a 3-0 series lead before finishing off the Wild in five games. Similarly to the Blackhawks, this is unacceptable in the minds of many in Minnesota. Unfortunately for the Wild and their fans, they exit the playoffs in the first round.
Anaheim Ducks vs. Calgary Flames (ANA 4-0):
Anaheim was just too skilled and too experienced for this young Flames team. Calgary just wasn’t able to put together a complete game in the series as their four game playoff run was over in the blink of an eye. While the future is bright in Calgary, this wasn’t their year.
Edmonton Oilers vs. San Jose Sharks (EDM 4-2):
The Sharks were dealing with injuries this whole series, but Edmonton and their speed were too much to handle for the older Sharks. Specifically, second-year superstar, and probably fastest skater in the world, Connor McDavid. McDavid was phenomenal in this series and the young, run and gun style Oilers were able to grind out four wins against last years Western Conference champions.
Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Columbus Blue Jackets (PIT 4-1):
In what was supposed to be a close first round matchup quickly turned into a route. The defending champion Penguins have way too much offensive firepower for the Blue Jackets as they had no answer for Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Phil Kessel. Expect the Penguins to make another deep run towards the cup this year.
Washington Capitals vs. Toronto Maple Leafs (WSH leads 3-2):
This is supposed to be the Caps year, but the youth of Toronto is giving Washington all they can handle in the first round. Auston Matthews has been nothing short of stellar and the future in Toronto looks extremely bright.
Montreal Canadiens vs. New York Rangers (NYR 4-2):
The New York Rangers somehow managed to take this series in just six games. Their defense was below average and it took goalie Henrik Lundqvist standing on his head all series for the Rangers to pull this off. An aging Lundqvist is known for being one of the best players yet to have never won a cup, and he appears to be doing everything in his power to change that narrative.
Ottawa Senators vs. Boston Bruins (OTT 4-2):
Boston’s defense was depleted with injuries and they were missing David Krecji, yet still managed to take Ottawa to an eventual overtime loss in game six. At the end of the day, Boston took too many penalties, and Erik Karlsson is on the other team. Karlsson was the best player on the ice this entire series and maybe the best player in the playoffs. He was simply sensational and a true game-changer every time he steps on the ice.