The NHL Playoffs: The quest for the Holy Grail begins


With the playoffs set to be underway today, here are some predictions that I have for the 2018 #Nhl Playoffs. There are many intriguing matchups in this first round, but perhaps none as anticipated as the Flyers vs. Penguins series.

Both teams are very different compared to their 2013 counterparts because now both squads have large amounts of young depth.

Neuvirth hasn't really been a part of the Flyers since February 20.

After appearing in just 31 games in Chicago, Kempny played 22 in Washington while securing a role alongside Norris Trophy-candidate John Carlson. Tampa Bay claimed the Atlantic Division title when the Boston Bruins (+550 to win Cup) were upset at home in the season's final game against the Florida Panthers, who missed the playoffs. I saw quite a bit of the Caps, but I like Ovechkin, and they're going to play a Columbus team that's usually hidden from view.

Guentzel also added three assists for the Penguins, the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions.

The Devils didn't make the playoffs a year ago. And yes, we know Sidney Crosby notched a hat trick and his team scored a touchdown and kicked the extra point in their 7-0 victory. They struggle to make on-the-fly changes within a game and from game-to-game. "I'm not going to move away for sure from that, but I'm not making any lineup decisions or announcing any lineup decisions (Thursday)".

So what will it take to dethrone the almighty Pens?

A huge brawl broke out toward the end the third period.

So much so that retired player and former Penguins coach Ed Olczyk said of Penguins-Flyers, "It only takes one player, one comment from somebody, where all bets are off and that gasoline tank will be ignited fairly quickly".

Philadelphia has not been able to do that so far. Crosby did it for them. The Penguins, who had the league's top-ranked power play during the regular season, went 1 for 4 with the man advantage. They need more, and accurate, puck movement, shots to reach the net and create extra traffic in front of goalie Matt Murray.

The Penguins certainly weren't going into this series resting on their laurels, even though they went 4-0 in those regular-season meetings. Former Red Wings stopper Petr Mrazek got off to a great start once he joined the squad prior to the trade deadline, but then he stumbled down the homestretch, surrendering at least three goals in each of his final seven starts. Neither goalie has been all that consistent this season.

The reason for the Capitals' playoff disappointments in recent years has been the fact that they have to go through Pittsburgh in the second round. Shayne Gostisbehere has shaken off his sophomore slump, giving the Flyers a mobile blueline to jump-start the rush.

"I just want go out there, play hard and play with some excitement", Ruhwedel said.

This is my favorite round of the playoffs because all the teams involved will be on my television at some point. Hall finished the sixth in scoring in the league and scored 41 more points than the next highest scoring player on the roster. Through 83 regular season outings, 45 of its games have gone over the total, while 36 have gone under and just two have pushed.

Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 28 shots for the 63rd win and 11th shutout in his postseason career. Also, his +/- of 17 highlights his effectiveness in the defensive zone, as well. With the way their goalies have played against the Penguins, maybe the Flyers' best bet in net isn't in seeing the puck but having some blind luck. But, Ghost and Provorov will need to steal the show. The Penguins rolled over the Flyers, 7-0, Wednesday night in the worst playoff loss in Flyers' history. The Flyers could use defenseman Robert Hagg's physicality.