2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs
By: Joseph Henry
At the time of this article (May 6, 2015) the 2015 Stanley Cup playoffs are in their second round, and the anticipation could not be more palpable. 8 teams enter the second round and only 4 leave, which gives the whole ordeal a do-or-die feel. Out of the three feuding California teams only the Anaheim Ducks made it to the playoff, which leaves reigning Stanley Cup Champions, The Los Angeles Kings, as well as the San Jose Sharks out to dry. This article seeks to look logically at the current matchups, and make predictions based on that.
Anaheim Ducks vs. Calgary Flames
Currently 2-1 ANA leads
Putting aside my own fanaticism of the Ducks, and simply looking at the first two games of the series, I strongly favor the Ducks in this matchup. Hot off of a 4-0 first round sweep against the Winnipeg Jets, the Ducks crushed the Flames in the first 2 games of the 2nd round. Game 1 ended in the 6-1 defeat of the flames, with notable play by postseason Ducks scoring leader Corey Perry. Game two resulted in the Flames second loss in Anaheim to the ducks, even with a notable starting goalie by Calgary of Karri Ramo in for Jonas Hiller which led to both teams having to quickly adapt to a new playing field. Game 3 was an uphill battle for Calgary, but they managed to turn the game around in the 3rd, even though they lost a contested goal. The Flames hopes to tie up the series in game 4, and the ducks hope to finish it by 5.
Chicago Blackhawks vs. Minnesota Wild
Currently 2-0 CHI leads
The Blackhawks are exerting early dominance over Minnesota in their second round, coming straight from a 4-2 round one versus the Nashville Predators. It’s been said time and time again that the Blackhawks have the most talented players on one in the NHL, which did them throughout last postseason. Minnesota is also coming from a 4-2, and looks to hold their own in games 3&4 at home. Game 1 in Chicago was one of the closest matches in all of the 2nd round. All of the games goals being in the first 1st and 2nd periods left Minnesota hungry for a comeback in the Fourth. Game 2 was not as close with a 4-1 victory for Chicago. Gaining a two point lead in the second left the Wild once again eager for a comeback, which resulted in one point for the Wild in the 2nd. Chicago cemented their lead in the 3rd with another two points, leaving Minnesota in the dust. Game 3 was a lesson in defense by both teams, as the action was relegated to the first period where Chicago scored the only goal of the game. I see Minnesota taking either game 4 but being pushed out of the playoffs by the talented likes of Chicago’s Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews.
Montréal Canadiens vs. Tampa Bay Lightning
Currently 2-0 TBL leads
If you look at regular-season matchup between the Montréal Canadiens and the Tampa Bay Lightning, you would undoubtedly give the series to Tampa Bay. The Lightning trounced the Canadiens at 5-0-0 during their amazing regular season. You can’t count Montréal out however, as last year’s first round playoff matchup between these teams resulted in a 4-0 sweep for the Canadiens. Last year’s series has left Montréal eager to avenge their regular season play against Tampa Bay. Game 1 was tense, as both teams scored in the 3rd which led to an overtime win by the Lightning’s Mikita Kucherov. Game 2 was more decisive than the first with Tampa Bay taking the game 6-2. The Canadiens need to take game 3 to have a fighting chance in the series, and it will definitely be an uphill battle seeing as how they couldn’t win either of their first two games at home. The home rink advantage should surely give the Lightning what they need to sweep the Canadiens.
New York Rangers vs. Washington Capitals
Currently 1-2 WSH leads
The Rangers and The Capitals have a long playoff history, which for the most part has favored the Capitals, however the last 4 years has broken the trend of Capital dominance. The Capitals have failed to defeat the Rangers in both the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 playoffs at seven games apiece. The current series score is the same as it was during the 2011-12 season, with The Capitals starting the series strong, and the Rangers mounting a comeback. This matchup in the semi-finals is undoubtedly the closest, and the only one I see going to 7 games. Game 1 resulted in a win for the Capitals with an amazing buzzer beating goal by Joel Ward in the 3rd period. Game 2 showcased some amazing play by both teams with notable goals by the Capitals Alex Ovechkin, and Ranger’s Derick Brassard. The Rangers were able to win with great 1st period play, as well as strong defense throughout the match. Game 3 was a victory for Washington, with the singular goal being scored by Jay Beagle in early in the 2nd. Both teams run a tight ship, and it’s gearing up to be a great series. I’d be surprised if the Capitals can end the playoff losing streak they’ve got going against the Rangers.