Tuesday, April 25, 2017

NHL First-Round Awards

            One round of exciting Stanley Cup Playoff action is in the books as the "Elite 8" has been determined. Who's surprising, who disappointed, and who's the favorite?

Biggest Surprise: The Nashville Predators rode a hot goaltender and great puck possession past the Chicago Blackhawks in the Central Division semifinal. If Rinne can get shutouts the way he did in the first two games of that series, the Preds could be on their way to their first Western Conference final. Speaking of the Blackhawks...
Biggest Disappointment: There were no "Chelsea Dagger's" to be heard this postseason at the United Center as the 'Hawks went goalless at home. Not enough from players like Marian Hossa, Jonathan Toews, and Patrick Kane as Chicago was sent home packing in the first round for a second straight year. Is there a need for a major shake-up in the Windy City?
Best Effort: Mike Babcock often gets knocked for not being "a player's coach", but Babs nearly had his young Toronto Maple Leafs upset the best regular season team in the Washington Capitals. Hockey wunderkind Auston Matthews had four goals in that series while players like James van Riemsdyk played hard, giving Toronto fans reason to believe that a Cup will be arriving in the future.
Favorite To Win It All: The Pittsburgh Penguins could be the first team to repeat since the late-90's Detroit Red Wings. They're also getting scoring from more than Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Players like Jake Guentzel (5 goals) and Bryan Rust (4 goals) have contributed nicely for the Pens.
Darkhorse To Win It All: Connor McDavid isn't the only solid offensive player on the Edmonton Oilers. Players like Milan Lucic, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Leon Draisaitl can also create offense for Edmonton, giving opposing teams fits on the back check.

Photo Courtesy of Epoole88

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