Hey, you win some and you lose some, right? We've got to want more because this is a heck of a run. The Tampa Bay Lightning have arguably been the most dominant team in the playoffs so far, needing just 10 games to reach the conference finals, tied with the Vegas Golden Knights for the fewest, but they had to go through a powerhouse Boston Bruins team to do it.
Let's get to the picks, shall we?
Malloy is very enthusiastic for the future of Washington's postseason.
In other words, a team that gave 110 per cent could find a way to give even more. There's no way this series goes less than six games. The Knights have the best penalty kill of the four teams remaining (85%), but that's in large thanks to what Marc-Andre Fleury has been able to accomplish. So weren't the Sharks, however.
In Game 7 from Nashville, the Jets outplayed the Predators in a 5-1 win to claim the series. The two losses were rather lopsided, with 5-2 and 6-2 defeats, but the Bolts have looked like the team that rolled through the regular season.
The Lightning dropped the opener of a series for the second straight round. Connor Hellebuyk isn't exactly a bad goaltender either, playing some of his best hockey during these playoffs.
For Vegas, this team lives and dies by its goalie. So aren't the Jets, however. "My heart was pumping for most of the game and overtime was pretty stressful". "I was just happy that they won!"
Prediction: Winnipeg in six games. Winnipeg is the final hope for Canada's first Cup celebration since Montreal in 1993 and is in the conference finals for the first time in franchise history. Tampa Bay won both previous meetings, including a sweep in the Eastern Conference semifinals seven years ago. The Lightning are the deepest team in hockey and now have all the momentum in the world after surgically dismantling the Bruins.
With Hedman and McDonagh, I think the Lightning have the edge on defence, but it's not enough to stop Washington now that they've gotten past the Pens.
Special teams could tip things Washington's way, but both teams have been hot on the power play and only OK while shorthanded, so the advantage might be limited.
Back in 2013-14, his first full season as an National Hockey League coach, Tampa Bay's Jon Cooper used nine rookies in the playoffs, a total no team has eclipsed since.
The best team doesn't always win, however.
It's "monkey off their back" and all that for the Alex Ovechkin-era Capitals, who until now have only ever found ways to stub their toes in the playoffs. They faced a ton of adversity, but bought in and played a strong team game.
"I was nervous throughout the entire game, as every year I watch the Capitals go up on the Penguins or Rangers and choke it all away", he said.
Offensively, the Capitals are a playmakers' team. That is one of the many reasons why they are such a comfortable favorite here.
When Tampa needed a goal late, they could not find it. Washington did not allow a shot on goal in the final three minutes of the game. They've been good at even-strength, have been getting the type of depth scoring that they never have before and Braden Holtby has returned to his all-time great postseason form.
From 1-1 to 2-0 just like that.
"Everybody knows Nicky is a top guy", said Ovechkin, "but you can see the effort we had against Pittsburgh (in Game 6)".
Washington survived a thriller of a series against Pittsburgh and should be competitive in this series, but coming off a grueling seven games and facing a well-rested Tampa Bay Team at Amalie Arena is too tall of a task.