The NHL’s postseason dominoes tumbled via a unchanging season’s furious final week. When a final ones fell Saturday night, they suggested that a joining is set adult for an intensely engaging spring.
This Stanley Cup contest facilities 7 teams that missed a playoffs final year. A whopping 5 Canadian teams warranted berths, a many from hockey’s heartland given 2004.
Defending champion Los Angeles won’t be there, and conjunction will long-lived energy Boston. The New York Rangers and Anaheim landed atop a dual conferences, though contenders with a delicious array of maestro talent and inspired girl are right behind them.
And design extreme foe this season: The postseason contenders were distant in a standings by usually 16 points, a smallest opening in a 16-team postseason era.
The puck drops Wednesday night in Montreal, Washington, Nashville and Vancouver. The movement won’t stop until a new champion raises a Cup in June.
Here’s what to watch when a NHL postseason starts this week:
HOME COOKING: Sure, Canadian players and coaches are distinguished on any NHL team. But when franchises formed in a Great White North make a playoffs, there’s an additional fad — and this postseason will have copiousness after a insane rush for position left 5 Canadian teams in a margin and dual all-Canadian first-round matchups.
Montreal was a no-doubt playoff contender, and stays a Stanley Cup favorite as prolonged as Carey Price continues his unimaginable deteriorate in net.
Vancouver absolutely warranted a postseason mark and second place in a Pacific Division with a conspicuous bounce-back deteriorate underneath new manager Willie Desjardins.
Yet a Canucks’ first-round competition will be a pretender Calgary Flames, who defied expectations and a detriment of harmed captain Mark Giordano to finish their five-year playoff drought.
The Winnipeg Jets also hung on late to acquire their city’s initial home playoff games given 1996.
And afterwards there are a Ottawa Senators, who went 23-4-4 over their final 31 games to acquire a first-round showdown with Montreal. The Senators repelled a joining with implausible play from Andrew Hammond, a mid-tier AHL goalie nicknamed “The Hamburglar” who has left 20-1-2 given his Feb recall.
NEW BLOOD: The playoffs will go on though a teams that won 3 of a past 4 Stanley Cup titles — and for a initial time in NHL history, a teams that won a prior season’s championship and a group with a final Presidents’ Trophy both missed a postseason.
The Los Angeles Kings struggled during midseason and flopped in a final week, finishing ninth in a West and finale their fantastic run of dual championships, 10 playoff array wins and a record 64 postseason games over a past 3 years. For a initial time given 2007, a playoffs won’t underline a fortifying champion.
The Boston Bruins, who won a 2011 pretension and had a NHL’s best regular-season record final year, assimilated a Kings on a golf march after saying their hopes dejected in a final hours of a season.
NO REWARD: The tip seeds in any discussion drew tough matchups in a initial round.
The Rangers emerged from a container of tip teams and streaked past Anaheim to explain a Presidents’ Trophy in a final weeks, though their indeterminate prerogative is a hazardous first-round matchup with luminary Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and a Pittsburgh Penguins, who squeaked into a postseason on a final day.
Anaheim led a altogether joining standings for most of a deteriorate before clinching a tip mark in a West in a final game. Yet a high-powered Ducks’ initial competition is a Winnipeg Jets, who done a late-season swell for their initial playoff berth given a earlier Atlanta Thrashers changed north scarcely 4 years ago.
The MTS Centre and a famed Portage and Main intersection in that turn capital will be packaged with white-clad, success-starved fans when a Ducks fly into town.
“I consider they’re going to be crazy,” Jets brazen Mark Schiefele said. “They’ve been with us all year and they’ve been unbelievable. we consider playoffs will only strike that subsequent turn for sure.”
DIVISIONAL RIVALS: The NHL realigned a postseason final year to emanate some-more matchups between local rivals, and a outcome will be felt quite by Central Division teams this year.
Division champion St. Louis drew a assembly with Minnesota, that finished with a Western Conference’s sixth-best record. The other Central matchup is a fight between high-powered Chicago and startling Nashville, that hold off a 2013 champion Blackhawks down a widen for home-ice advantage.
STEADY ON: The Detroit Red Wings done a playoffs for a 24th uninterrupted season, and they’ve never had a postseason array opposite a Tampa Bay Lightning and ubiquitous manager Steve Yzerman, who is a bit of a luminary in Michigan. The Wings’ playoff exploits could play a purpose in a destiny of manager Mike Babcock, who could be accessible to a top bidder this summer.
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