NHL playoffs mean the world to us unless of course there is a pandemic going on. So who really cares about the NHL playoffs? Don’t burst our bubble! Here is our annual breakdown of the NHL playoffs of the final 16 or wait a minute…I think it’s 24 this year. Nonetheless we will start with the first round “Qualifiers”.

Eastern Conference Qualifiers

PIT vs. MTL: As much as I think Carey Price can steal a series, this isn’t the series he can steal. With Penguins overall depth not to mention the 1-2 Center depth of Crosby and Malkin (stating the obvious) but this year it seems like the winger depth is healthy and padded thanks to the trade deadline. It’s not like their goalie (Matt Murray) hasn’t won before. As fo the Habs, if you are going to upset a team like Pittsburgh a 5 game series is ideal. The race to 3 could favour a high intensity, fast forward group backstopped by the legendary coolness of Carey Price and the leadership of Shea Weber. Not this time. Penguins in 4

CAR vs. NYR: Since everyone and their dog is picking the Rangers to win this series, something must be wrong. What gives? I get that the Rangers were hot and they have 3 possible starting goaltenders but something tells me that Rod Brind’amour’s band of underdogs can sure check. They are aggressive, fast, young and have a trio of centers in Aho, Trochek & Jordan Staal. Did Justin Williams retire yet? We are going against the grain. Hurricanes in 5

NYI vs. FLA: Bobrovsky! Will he he show he is worth his $10 million dollar contract? We love Barkov & Huberdeau. Here is the thing. When sweet Lou brings a team to the playoffs things happen. We like this defensive minded band of gritty forwards and an underrated group of big defencemen and a goalie tandem that flew under the radar all season. Islanders in 4

TOR vs. CBJ: Can the Blue Jackets do it again? This team has a lot of heart. Timely scoring and solid defensive play with a little nastiness is always a good formula for the playoffs. The best part of this series will be the many faces of Torts. Just can’t see with all those young legs in Toronto how the Jackets can contain the overwhelming offence that the Leaf forwards will provide. It’s painful but…Leafs in 5

Round-robin order of finish: 1. Lightning; 2. Capitals 3. Bruins 4. Flyers

Western Conference Qualifiers

EDM vs. CHI: If anyone is picking Chicago for past glory, I have an empty arena in Florida to sell you. Oilers are too young, too fast and now too well coached for this series. Though goaltending is in question still, we see Miko Koskinen’s 6’7″ frame standing or rather kneeling tall in this one. It will be interesting to see if Mike Smith gets the start with Coach Tippett’s history. I suppose you can’t go wrong either way. No one loves Toews and Kane and their past glory as much as we do. But this is all on Corey Crawford. Oilers in 4

NSH vs. ARI: This will be a fun pick. Turmoil in Arizona. A John Hynes led Predators team. I really think this is a toss up. It’s hard to bet against that Preds defensive core. They have such an impressive list of forwards (talent wise) but are they playoff wise. My head tells me to take the Predators but for some reason the goaltending depth and the underrated D core of the Coyotes will come to play. All this turmoil is perfect for a Rick Tocchet us against the world rallying cry to produce the biggest upset in the first round. Coyotes in 5

VAN vs. MIN: There is a theme going on with our picks. Young legs will win in a long layoff, playoff type quick series. The Wild are stingy smart and have good goaltending. With timely goals this can surely upset the young Canucks. We just think there is to much of an upward trending curve in this youthful Canucks roster. Lead by their Trever Linden type leader Bo Horvat, we like the supporting cast of gritty playoff guys like JT Miller, Tanner Pearson, Tyler Toffoli etc. If Markstrom shows up to play like we know he can. This will be the Canucks series to lose. Canucks in 5

CGY vs. WPG: This is the toughest series to call in our opinion. We don’t think just because one team has likely the Vezina winner in Hellebuyck and the other team doesn’t know who their starting goalie is. For the record we are going with Rittich as we believe acrobats & luck (see M.A. Fleury a couple of seasons ago) will be needed to win this series against the potent Jets offence. The Flames tenacious group led by Tkachuk, Lucic and Mangiapane will need to get on the Jets D in order to have a chance. Though we think this will be tough, the likes of Scheifele, Wheeler, Connor, Laine & Ehlers will be to tough to handle especially with questionable goaltending. Helle will not let them lose. Jets in 5

Round-robin order of finish: 1. Golden Knights 2.Avalanche 3. Blues 4. Stars

Frank Zappia

Your comments are welcome at @frankzappia1, @spinohockey