As I posted on Twitter Monday, I’m picking two series sweeps in Round 1. But there’s a chance two more go the minimum.
Sweeps are killjoys, though, so let’s hope for longer, and therefore much more exciting, series. But the possibility remains that at least one team, or more, will be on the links within a week.
Here are the most likely series sweeps in Round 1:
Detroit’s last home game of the regular season, a 2-1 loss to Carolina, was also Fan Appreciation Night at Joe Louis Arena. As is customary at these events, prizes were distributed throughout the evening.
And out of that comes this story about Mia Weinberg, who took her two kids to the finale. Two of the three seats they purchased at the last minute were together, while the other was off on its own. But when she took the kids to their seats, a third one next to them was open, so she decided to sit with them until that person came to claim the seat.
But the person didn’t show up. Not until little Elijah won an Xbox One sitting in the unpurchased seat, anyway. When he did, the ticket-holder showed up to claim his “winnings.”
Rule 1: if you elect to not sit in your seat and a child wins a game console in it, step off bro. Read more
Jeff Blashill and Jon Cooper are really close friends and it will only be a matter of time before they’re both living out their dreams as NHL coaches. You know all about Cooper now that he’s working his magic with the Tampa Bay Lightning. And sooner or later, you’ll learn about Blashill, who was named the American League’s coach of the year for his work with the Grand Rapids Griffins.
It may not be this summer, but Blashill will be an NHL coach very soon. And who knows? With all the coaching opportunities that figure to be opening up this summer, perhaps someone will take a chance on a 40-something AHL coach of the year and Calder Cup winner, the way the Tampa Bay Lightning did with Cooper. It’s not without its precedent. Since 2009, Cooper, Guy Boucher and Scott Arniel went directly from being AHL coach of the year to the head man behind an NHL bench.
“Personally, I think he needs another year or two to get more of a base of experience,” said Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland, who hired Blashill as an assistant in Detroit before making him the Griffins head coach in 2012-13. “But I think he’s an NHL coach in the making, there’s no doubt about that.”
Welcome to the first round of the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs and the beginning of a new format. No longer will teams be seeded from 1-8 in their conference, but instead will have to play out of their division first. Teams are no longer re-seeded after the opening round and will face the other winner in their division in the second round.
THN gets you prepared for the action, which will start Wednesday, April 12. Below is our introduction to each series, insider analysis from CBC’s Kevin Weekes and TSN’s Jeff O’Neill, and THN’s prediction.
And be sure to vote on our poll: Who do you think will win the 2014 Stanley Cup?
BOSTON BRUINS vs. DETROIT RED WINGS
Introduction: A classic Original Six matchup welcomes the Detroit Red Wings to the East side of the playoff bracket and it won’t be a warm reception. The Bruins are the most complete team in the East and asserted their dominance by going through the East with a 12-4 record last playoff season. But the Wings are also an unfortunate draw for Boston. If any team, no matter its drawbacks, is capable of a shocking upset, it’s the experienced Red Wings machine. Just last season, Detroit upset Anaheim in the first round and took Chicago all the way to Game 7. This season, Gustav Nyquist should be even better for them. Read more
Just like the start of the regular season, any fan with a horse in the race starts the NHL playoffs with a giddy optimism. Even if you don’t believe your team will win it all, you’re surely thinking they can pull off an upset or two.
Well, sorry to break it to you, but you’re wrong. Your team isn’t as good or as complete as you believe it to be. They will not win the Stanley Cup.
And here’s why your favorite team will come up empty this spring:
Anaheim: Because the stats community says you’re doomed to fail. Your team’s 49.8 percent Corsi percentage is second-worst among Western playoff teams, which means you don’t possess the puck enough. You were upset last year and it’s going to happen again. Read more
With their 3-0 win over the suddenly slumping St. Louis Blues, the Dallas Stars are returning to the post-season, having eliminated the Phoenix Coyotes. It’ll be the franchise’s first playoff appearance since 2007-08 when ‘Big D’ made it to the Western Conference final before bowing out in six games to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings.
The 16 playoff teams are now set. All that’s to be decided now is positioning.
For the Stars, they could get any one of the Ducks, Avalanche or Blues in Round 1. They’re 2-1 against Anaheim, 1-3-1 versus Colorado and now 3-1-1 when facing St. Louis. Couple their success in Missouri with the Blues’ five-game losing streak, and the Stars might be hoping for first-round series against the Notes.
As the regular season winds down, so does the career of Ryan Smyth, who announced Friday that he’ll retire after his final game Saturday night in Edmonton against the Vancouver Canucks.
Smyth will leave the NHL the same way he came in: wearing an Edmonton Oilers jersey. As he should. Some in similar shoes hope to have an even better exit – like carrying Stanley out the door – while others will have to settle for less glamorous goodbyes if they leave. At 38, Smyth is the youngest on this list of greybeards who have to decide whether they should stay or go.
Yes, THN’s mailbag is back. What, you were expecting something different, maybe? It’s Friday. This is what happens on Fridays. Prepare yourself accordingly.
Adam, what are the possibilities of the Oilers acquiring Tyler Myers?? I realize you are going to give up a lot to get him, but could a trade similar to the Phil Kessel trade be a good deal?? I know Buffalo is loaded in terms of picks (this year and next), but could they go for a first-round pick in 2015 and a 1st round pick in 2016? I only say this because I would love to see the Oilers’ future with Tyler Myers and (possibly) Aaron Ekblad together, and a supporting cast of Justin Schultz, Oscar Klefbom, Darnell Nurse and Martin Marancin. I would also love to see the top six forwards not change. If you were Tim Murray, would you accept my proposal and trade Tyler Myers?
T.J. Zielman, Exeter, Ont.
Not only would I accept your proposal, I’d also jump into your arms and hug you for a long time, because two first-rounders for a blueliner whose stock has fallen as much as Myers’ has since he won the Calder Trophy in 2010 is a major overpayment. First round picks are far too valuable to expend on a player who has regressed and who also comes with a bulky contract that has five years left with an annual salary cap hit of $5.5 million.
Now, Edmonton may have more interest in a Myers deal centered around Sam Gagner, but that’s another story altogether. Murray and coach Ted Nolan might look at Myers – who still is just 24 years old – and decide they’d rather not give up on him just yet, especially if it means taking on Gagner’s $4.8-million salary for the next two seasons when Buffalo is on a long-term rebuild. Further complicating matters is Myers’ limited no-trade clause. So I wouldn’t get overly excited about him joining the Oilers just yet. Read more