Lets take a look at the predicted 2018-2019 playoff teams. I wont go round for round…yet, just looking at who will slip in where.
1. Tampa Bay Lightning
WC2. Columbus Bluejackets
The Jackets were the wild card last year and project around that this year. Can Bob get it done in the playoffs? Tampa is a power house and their window for the cup is closing, this is the time for them to step up. Plus I truly think this years team is better than last.
2. Toronto Maple Leafs
3. Boston Bruins
The Leafs are going to win a lot of regular season games, but if they meet a team like Boston in the first round then their defense will get exposed. I truly believe the Leafs won’t make it far in the playoffs, Boston has just to team to ride out the offense and crush the Leafs in the end.
1. Pittsburgh Penguins
WC1. Florida Panther
I think Florida gets in the playoffs this year, their roster is starting to mature, and they have more depth than a team like New Jersey. The biggest question for Pittsburgh is Matt Murray, can he rebound from a shaky season and playoffs? If he plays to his potential the Penguins are cup favorites again. Pittsburgh is a dynasty with Crosby and one more cup would more than solidify that.
2. Philadelphia Flyers
3. Washington Capitals
Hot take, but the Capitals will suffer a slight hangover from their cup win, this team is more than talented enough for the playoffs, but teams usually have a layover after cups wins. If its not this round then seeing their rival Penguins in the next round, they will get a wake up call. Plus the Flyers have Gritty now, I don’t know how I didn’t put them first for that reason.
1. Nashville Predators
WC2. Calgary Flames
The Flames are going to surprise people this year, they have an underrated froward group and very solid toward the top of the league d-core. The problem will be that Nashville is 1A-1B with San Jose in best defense, and their forwards compliment that very well. The Flames should look at making the playoffs as a win, because they are going to run into a buzzsaw no matter who’s first in either division.
2. Winnipeg Jets
3. St. Louis Blues
The Jets are an absolute wagon this year, but the Blues have made the moves to be right there with them. This match up is the reason I didn’t do a full playoff preview, either one of these team is good enough to take the #1 seed from Nashville.
1. San Jose Sharks
WC1. Vegas Golden Knights
The Knights are good enough to make the playoffs again, but their record won’t be as good. This team made some solid moves, time will tell how those pieces fit in. The Sharks on the other hand are tending up, a veteran team that now has 2 of the leagues top 3 defensemen. The window is closing for a few guys on this team, so they are going to hunker down and grind teams away. The Sharks wont likely sweep anyone, but they will psychically break teams down. The problem will be when they play who ever comes out of the central, because they will be able to do it right back.
2. LA Kings
3. Anaheim Ducks
The Kings are just solid front to back, they have legit stars in every area. Its all about balance for LA and that bods well in the playoffs. The Ducks have an aging forward crew who knows when to step up, but the key to their success is the defense, they have arguably a top 5…at least top 10 crew on the blue line and a good goalie. Both these teams are built for long runs in the playoffs.