Stanley Cup used as baptismal font, horse feeder

Is the Pen Mightier than the Jacket?

I like the Oilers in this one though, and it will be Wild-Oilers to go to the Stanley Cup. Just two games remained this season when Washington officially clinched everything possible, forcing the team to continue fighting for prime position. In the first round of the playoffs, the Capitals are set to take on the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Penguins are matched up against the Blue Jackets.

Matthews led Toronto in points (69) and finished tied for second in the National Hockey League in goals with 40. It will also feature the second seed Ottawa Senators squaring off against the Boston Bruins.

James van Riemsdyk was among the few players with considerable playoff experience at that point and he looked like it in the one-sided Game 1 against the Bruins. Luckily, they will have time to warm to the task and will be carried by the star players.

The curious case of Bruce Boudreau and the Stanley Cup playoffs.

San Jose is the defending West champion, and after hitting a rough patch late in the regular season, the Sharks, led offensively by defenseman Brent Burns and Joe Pavelski, who combined for 144 points, look to defend their conference crown. Most experts are picking Chicago to defeat the Nashville Predators. The slick rearguard played more than 28 minutes per game in last year's Cup run, but the Pens went 13-7-3 without him down the stretch.

Chicago Blackhawks right wing Jordin Tootoo (22) is defended by Nashville Predators center Calle Jarnkrok (19) during the first period in Game 1 of a first-round NHL hockey playoff series Thursday, April 13, 2017, in Chicago. The Ducks (-160) have been positively dominant against the Flames in their own arena, winning the last 27 home meetings between the teams dating back to their first-round playoff matchup in 2006.

"It's what it's all about", he said.

The Western Conference will see two division rivalries face each other. Minnesota held on to second place in the division by fashioning a four-game season-ending winning streak, while the Blues' three-game winning run to end the campaign was for naught. The teams split the totals down the middle, going 2-2-1 O/U.

Qualifying for the playoffs in nine of the past 12 seasons, the Washington Capitals are no stranger to postseason play.

The Predators' infirmary might be uncomfortably full for their series-opening tilt with the Blackhawks.

For as good as Frederik Andersen has been at times this season there is no doubt the Maple Leafs deserve to be at the top of this list.

There was no panic among the Hawks, of course, the veteran players having been through far more dire situations than losing home-ice advantage in the first game of a seven-game series.

As for Canadiens netminder Carey Price, Saturday night's all right for dominating - he has a magnificent 15-2-2 mark with a 1.98 goals-against average and a.934 save percentage on Saturdays this season. But the Predators eventually started to control the action, and their high-scoring top line of Arvidsson, Ryan Johansen and Filip Forsberg took the air out of the United Center with one nice sequence. For this year's formula, we're using four common characteristics of Stanley Cup winners over the past six seasons: elite-level penalty-killing, top-tier goaltending, clutch puck possession and a battle-tested roster.

Early in that drought, the Hawks' top line had a disastrous defensive shift that led directly to a Viktor Arvidsson goal. "It's a big series for us".

  • Salvatore Jensen