The NHL Playoffs start tonight.The means you can finally start to watch hockey and pretend like you know what you’re talking about.
Here’s a quick, simple catch-up.
The Rangers. They were the Eastern Conference’s most consistent team through the regular season, but their form has dipped slightly of late. They have the best goalie (SI cover boy Henrik Lundqvist).
The Penguins. Pittsburgh is hot at exactly the right time. They also have Sidney Crosby back after he was out with a concussion for a year and a half.
The Canucks. The best team in the NHL record-wise. They kept their core in tact from last year’s team, and will need a more consistent performance out of Roberto Luongo to finish the job this time around.
What first-round series should I watch?
Pittsburgh-Philly. Both these teams have the talent and the goaltending to get hot and win it all. They also hate each other.
Vancouver-LA. More than any other league, the NHL Playoffs are full of upsets. The Kings have one of the game’s best goalie’s in Jonathon Quick, so they can certainly shock the Canucks the way the Canadiens shocked the No.1-seeded Capitals after sneaking into the playoffs in 2010.
What are some things I can talk about if I’m cornered by hockey nerds?
Philly might finally have a Stanley Cup-calibre goalie. It took Ilya Bryzgalov 3/4’s of the season to figure things out, but he finally started playing like the big-money goalie Philly thought they were getting when they acquired him last summer. The Flyers have been a goaltender short of winning the Cup for decades, but this year could be different.
The Rangers might have peaked to early. No one expected the Rangers to get the one-seed in the East. And now, no one really expects them to beat the Penguins in a potential round two series. They’re a strong defence team, but don’t necessarily overwhelm their opponents. Can they beat elite teams like that?
The struggling Sun Belt franchises might take out the blue bloods. Florida, Nashville, and Phoenix are all involved this year. If one of these much-maligned franchises make a deep run, it could kill the ratings.
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