By Chris Hennessy
Round 1 of the 2019 NHL playoffs was breathtaking, unbelievable, and has left a lot to live up to for Round 2. The favorite got swept, three Game 7’s, and a lot of drama highlighted the first eight series of the playoffs.
Let’s start in the East. Tampa Bay got swept. Unbelievable. Columbus played a better all-around game, got better goaltending, while the Bolts never recovered from blowing a 3-0 lead in Game 1. Columbus will be moving on and it is hard to take them lightly.
Columbus will face Boston, after they took out Toronto in seven games for the second straight year. It was a very physical series, which was to be expected, and the more well-rounded and complete team won the series. Boston is now the favorite in the east and the top seed remaining in the tournament, but Columbus absolutely has the firepower to give them a run for their money. I’ll go Boston in 6.
The New York Islanders swept the Pittsburgh Penguins. What a world. Four close games that saw the Islanders come out on top. They did it the same way they won games all season long; shut down defense, solid goaltending and timely scoring. Robin Lehner is also a Vezina finalist for top goaltender, which is remarkable. If you have not heard his story of battling addiction, I highly recommend it.
The Isles will have home ice against the Carolina Hurricanes, who defeated the defending champion Washington Capitals in Game 7 in double overtime. It was a great series that saw the underdog Canes get a great crowd at home, use it to their advantage to force Game 7, and buckled down to win Game 7 on the road.
Interesting series that is not a repeat of years past, which is a good thing. Isles in 6.
Now it’s time to head west. St. Louis took down Winnipeg in six games. The Jets did not look at the top of their game in the last month and a half of the season, and St. Louis was as hot as anyone. Not that surprising now, but would have been at the beginning of the year
They will face Dallas, who upset Nashville in 6 games. The Stars coming out party was during Game 6, where John Klingberg and Miro Heiskanen shut down the Preds to take the series. Dallas has shown themselves as a dangerous team, which not many people predicted at the beginning of the playoffs
This will be a sneaky good series. I’ll take the Blues in 7.
Calgary was the top seed in the West, and the Avalanche took the series in five games. The Flames won the first game, then lost the next four, including two at home. Colorado is a very talented team who suffered from a huge lull in the middle of the season, and showed it in the first round.
They will face San Jose, the winner of the most entertaining series of the first round. They took down Vegas in 7 games after being down 3-1. Not only that, but they were down 3-0 in the third period of Game 7, benefitted from a bad call, scored four power play goals, and won in overtime.
Sharks in 6. They are the best team left out west