Hellebuyck will need to be the difference in this series

This NHL playoffs are so unpredictable. Every year their is an upset in the first round. Not to mention its rare feat for many to pick the eventual Stanley Cup Champion. See Washington last year. We love making predictions so here we go again…

First Round:


Will the Winnipeg Jets be singing the Blues? As many are picking the Blues to keep on trucking through their opponents with their spectacular 2019 (they have the second most wins in the league since January). Can Winnipeg overcome their locker room issues and stop the Blues machine as they did in the season series in which they won 3 out of the 4 games? We realize the last game was played in December. We just think that the Jets are too deep, have some playoff experience and clearly the better goaltender. Not to mention big Buff and Josh Morrissey healthy (if that’s indeed the case) will make all the difference in this series. Can St Louis continue their winning ways? Even though they are only 2 wins better than the Jets after that incredible 11 game winning streak that ended in February that turned their season around. I know they finished the season strong but just a few short months ago rumours were going on that a fire sale was about to happen. Can Craig Berube out coach Paul Maurice? Can Jordan Binnington outduel Connor Hellebuyck? Will Vlad Tarasenko disappear in the payoffs like playoff’s of past? Will the Winnipeg Jets top line actually outplay another line this year? Stay tuned. Besides the eventual Stanley Cup champion nearly always has to overcome huge obstacles or some sort of near death experience before they go on to win the Stanley Cup. Playing this team in the first round is may be what the doctor ordered. Jets in 7


Let’s start off by saying the good news is the Preds never won the President’s trophy. The bad news, their offence seems to have disappeared. Can anyone tell me what league Kyle Turris is playing in? The Preds are 19th in the league in goals for but 3rd in goals against. Their top offensive players of Ryan Johansson and Filip Forsberg have been underwhelming at best. To top this off the playoffs are coming for Pekka Rinne which is never a good thing. Who knows maybe that backing into first place by the Jets collapse will give them confidence. On the other hand, the Dallas Stars and their stifling defence and their brick wall named Ben Bishop are 2nd in the league in goals against. Can this mark the end of Pekka Rinne in Smashville? Back to the Stars. Is there a better collection of big game, emotionally gifted offensive players that we find in Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, Alex Radulov and the not much talked about Matt Zucarello? It’s about time that Dallas finally wins a playoff series. They must be due finally! Stars in 6


So Colorado didn’t get that first overall draft pick in the NHL draft lottery. Pierre Dorion is rejoicing. Instead they get the first place Calgary Flames and their mediocre goaltending. The Avs going down the stretch have been one of the hottest teams in the league. We like Calgary’s depth at forward and especially on defence. It really seems like they are full of playoff type players starting with Matthew Tkachuk, Sean Monahan, Mark Giordano and some guy named “Johny Hockey”. Goaltending is another question entirely. As much as we like what the Flames have done this year. We really like the pace that this energetic, young crop of players bring to the Rockies. In Nate & Mikko we trust… Colorado in 7


Probably the toughest series to pick. Vegas seems like the obvious choice. The Sharks are slumping. Martin Jones has been average at best. The Knights added many new veteran players to a team that had already went to the Stanley Cup Final in 2018. They have an endless list of big game players in Marchessault, Karlsson, Smith, Stastny, Stone and Tuch. But no bigger than the game’s biggest “big game” goalie in Marc-Andre Fleury. The Sharks are deep, well coached, driven by a good crop of veterans that have been there before. Many players including Pavelski, Couture, Burns and maybe the biggest game changer in Erik Karlsson is quietly in the background. When a series is truly a coin toss, I usually go with the goalie I like more and Marc Andre Fleury would be the certain choice. Strange hunch but for some reason I think the Knights will not survive in Shark infested waters. Or maybe I was remembering how dominant the Sharks had been before the last 10-15 games of the season when they really were not playing for anything. San Jose in 7


How can anyone upset the mighty Tampa Bay Lightning? Clearly the leagues best team and the winner of the dreaded President’s Trophy. No team is deeper and they are facing a team that was basically put together at the NHL trade deadline. The Jackets do have star power, Panarin, Duchene, Jones, Bobrovsky and who can forget John Tortorella (Tampa’s ex-coach). It would be a shocker if the Jackets won this series but we don’t see it as lopsided as much as the league standings would show. The way Colombus lost last year, up 2 games and in OT with the eventual Stanley Cup champion could provide motivation. We just think this team that seemingly has no weaknesses will be too much for the Jackets. Lightning in 6


Just on principle I can not pick the Maple Leafs to win this series. But let me tell you something, when everyone in the NHL world is picking the Bruins this is when the upset happens. The Leafs can score with the best of them and for this writer this is the route to win this series. Deep at center they will need to overpower and open up this series and try to surprise the stingy veteran Bruins squad. Freddie Andersen will need to stand on his head or at least carries this team on his shoulders. As much as we are tempted to take the Leafs we will stick with Bergeron, Marchand, Chara and Rask to do them in again. But for some reason I am picking with my head and not my queasy stomach. Bruins in 7


It’s about time that someone takes these bunch of jerks and put them out of their misery as Don Cherry will be sure to say. This magical season has to come to an end and no one better to put an end to it than the brash and off season boozers found in the nations capital. I really like what Rod Brind’amour has done with this Nascar loving state but really, how much more can the frozen pond traditionalist take. Post game celebrations? Hockey is not fun people. It especially won’t be fun agains the hi tempo bruising defending Stanley Cup champions. This is all I need is to see Ovi jumping up and down putting away one timers against the “great to be here” Hurricanes. Caps in 5


Is anyone picking the Islanders in their hockey drafts?  I guess anything is possible but you got to love what the Islanders have done this year with sweet Lou and Trotz at the helm. But I have a few names that will never let this happen. Crosby, Malkin, Kessel and a playoff Matt Murray. Enough said.Penguins in 5 

Second Round Winners:

Winnipeg over Dallas in 7, San Jose over Colorado in 6, Pittsburgh over Washington in 7, Tampa Bay over Boston in 5

Third Round Winners:

Winnipeg over San Jose in 7, Tampa Bay over Pittsburgh in 6

Stanley Cup Champion: Winnipeg over Tampa Bay in 6

by Frank Zappia @frankzappia1 @Spinohockey

The following are Picks by @Mass_Insight

TB over CLB 5, WSH over CAR in 6, PIT over NYI in 7, BOS over TOR in 6

NSH over DAL in 7, COL over CGY in 7, WPG over STL in 6, SJS over VGK in 6

Round 2: TB over BOS in 6, PIT over WSH in 6, COL over SJS in 6, NSH over WPG in 7

Round 3: COL over NSH in 7, TB over PIT in 6

Stanley Cup Champion: TB over COL in 6

Your comments are welcome @spinohockey, @frankzappia1 and @Mass_Insight