2017 NHL Playoffs First Round Recap

I remember looking at NHL.com a couple days before the playoffs started and reading their staff writers' predictions. And, I swear, out of the 30 writers, 25 (25!) of them predicted a Blackhawks-Capitals final and every single one of them had at least one of those teams in the Stanley Cup. That's a disgrace and that's what happens when you throw up chalk. When you have no guts, there's no glory. Sometimes you've got to go out on a limb. So I'm going with a Penguins-Oilers Final and the kids from Edmonton take the Cup back to Canada, where it belongs.

The NHL's first round generally went according to plan outside of a few massive deviations from the norm, though disappointingly, not a single series went to seven games. The Rangers took out the Habs in six games in a low-scoring, tight affair that was decided by the goaltenders. Questions linger in La Belle Province as to whether this Montreal squad really has the offensive firepower to make a deep run. On the other hand, Pittsburgh's offensive juggernaut just ran through Columbus. Crazy stat: in every single playoff game in Columbus' franchise history; they have never given up less than three goals. Ottawa took out Boston with a little help from the refs and perhaps the best defenseman in the game today in Eric Karlsson. Undoubtedly though, the most exhilarating series was Capitals-Leafs. Five of six games went to overtime and Toronto even looked like they had a chance after grabbing a 2-1 series lead before losing three straight. Sorry, Mike Modano, this series was never going to be done in five. Watch out for the young Leafs, they will win a Cup in the next three to five years.

Out in the West, the Blues vanquished the slumping Wild who looked like Cup contenders over the winter but fell apart once spring rolled around. The upstart Oilers, with a slew of kids playing in their first playoff series, took care of business against the veteran Sharks. And the Ducks swept through the Flames like they were an AHL team; the series was never even close. But perhaps the most shocking series (in maybe the last decade?) was Chicago-Nashville. Not only did the Preds annihilate one of the league's best teams, they did it in four games and held the Blackhawks to a measly three goals.

As we move into the Conference Finals I'm seeing some familiar trends. The Capitals just don't seem to be able to exorcise their playoff demons. The Penguins will steamroll them just like Columbus (though the series will go at least six games). Ottawa and New York will be tight all the way through (bet the under the whole way). I'm thinking the Sens in seven but it won't matter because the Penguins are guaranteed to come out of the East. In the West, the Oilers have too many young weapons and will overwhelm a shaky Ducks defense. Preds-Blues will also be a tight one that should go seven. I'll take the Blues at home in game seven, but, again, I like the under the whole way.

There's going to be a hell of a lot of pressure on Edmonton to deliver the Cup back to the Great White North. It will be a Stanley Cup Finals to remember. And oil still runs the world.