Friday, April 29, 2016

My Picks For Round Two- Don't Bet On It!

Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

If you're a gambling person, I advice you to bet on the opposite of my picks for round two. As proven in round one, there isn't a sure thing and home ice is barely a factor. Five of the eight series were won by the team with home ice advantage and two of four division winners were eliminated in the first round. As far as my picks for the first round, I was 3 for 8, which is pretty embarrassing considering I like to think I know a thing or two about hockey. It never fails, the first round always has at least a couple of upsets, which definitely makes it the most exciting round of the playoffs. You can't help but experience a feeling of bliss with the amount of games of high quality hockey games per night. There seemed to be at least 2-4 games a night and every series offered some kind of excitement and drama that exceeds any two weeks of the regular season.

The big surprises or maybe not so big of a surprise, was that Los Angeles and Anaheim both were eliminated. Both teams topped the Pacific division and both teams had home ice. Anaheim continued their woeful record in game 7's with an upset at the Pond to wildcard, Nashville. The Kings got their asses kicked by a superior San Jose squad that might actually go far in the playoffs. Atlantic Division leaders, Florida Panthers lost in a game 6 overtime to the Islanders with some controversy, but Florida really didn't show as much as expected as they were outworked and outplayed by an underrated Islanders squad. This year will feature a new Stanley Cup champ as the Blackhawks will not repeat after their loss in 7 games to the Blues. The series was decided by one goal from former Hawk, Troy Brouwer in the third period. With the Blues finally overcoming their first round ineptness, can they do damage in the rest of the playoffs?

Photo: Geoff Burke, (USA TODAY Sports)

This will be the most watched series of the second round, it's Alex vs Sid part 2. The last time these two teams met in the playoffs was in 2009, with Pittsburgh winning in 7 with the Penguins going on to win the Cup. In goal, both the Penguins, Matt Murray and the Caps, Braden Holtby will be keys. In the first round, they both played great, but with the high powered offenses and superstars galore, this could be a dandy! I think without the Ducks, Hawks and Kings in the running, the Capitals have to be the odds on favourite of the remaining teams to win the Cup, but any team that has the firepower of Crosby and Malkin can't be overlooked. The think the Caps will win, but I'd rather see the Pens win.
Penguins in 7

I have to admit, my interest for this series coming in was pretty low, but after watching game 1 on Wednesday it's peaked my interest slightly. What I saw was that the Islanders can strike quickly and almost without flash, a grinder team that has one superstar player in John Tavares. The Lightning have a deep forward core even without Stamkos and with the playoff addition of Jonathan Druin have the potential to score lots if they break free. Again, goaltending will be a factor and in game 1, Thomas Greiss out-duelled Ben Bishop who was brutal and was pulled after the 4th Islanders goal. Will be a close series, but do you care?
Islanders in 7

Can't say I like either team since my two favourite teams share a division with the Blues and Stars and they is much bad blood. The Blues series win over the Blackhawks was a huge step for the franchise and Hitchcock was probably within a goal of losing his job. The Stars beat the Wild, but in game six the Stars took a 4-0 lead into the third period and proceeded to play one of the worst periods of the playoffs. The Wild were one goal from forcing a game 7. The Blues have the edge in goal as the Stars goalies struggled to gain the confidence from coach Ruff. The Blues have a good argument to win the series, they physically could dominate and hey, they finally beat the Hawks, that's a huge psychological hurdle. I hate the Blues though, so I hope the Stars win.
Stars in 6

Two teams that pulled somewhat surprising upsets. The Sharks 4-1 series win wasn't so much a huge surprise, but in the amount of games to eliminate the Kings was unexpected. When the Sharks lost game 3 after taking the first two in LA, you couldn't help think about the Kings 4-3 comeback series win (after being down 3-0) from two years ago. But this is a more mature, deep Sharks team that has a new coach, a new attitude and a rejuvenated, Joe Thornton. The Preds on the other hand pulled the biggest upset of the first round eliminating the Mighty Anaheim Ducks in 7 games. The fact that 3 of their 4 wins were on the road in Anaheim (including game 7) is an amazing feat. Nashville won with a very good defensive system and though they are not known as a big scoring team, they got timely goals. Pekka Rinne was the best player on Nashville and if they hope to advance to the Conference finals, he has to be the best player of the series...and more.
Sharks in 6

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Is There A Reason To Keep Living Or At Least Watch The Rest Of The NHL Playoffs?

So, the Chicago Blackhawks were eliminated in game 7 of the first round to their arch rival, St. Louis Blues last night and it couldn't be more painful. Much like the bitter pill of the 2014 Western Conference Finals loss to the Kings in game 7 in overtime, it's hard to face the reality the Blackhawks are done for the season. The loss to the King kept the Hawks from repeating from their 2013 Cup win and the Blues prevented the Hawks from repeating last year's championship. When you think of this whole modern dynasty talk, it is incredible the Hawks could have won three cups in a row if not for the loss to the Kings. The Kings went on to win the cup easily in 5 games in the finals and it could have easily been Chicago. The loss to the Blues very much could have been the reversal with a bounce or two going their way. Seabrook's late third period "double goal post" was inches from tying the game last night and the feeling they would still tie the game was still confidently in my mind even in the dying seconds.

 As a lifelong Blackhawks fan (since 1970), I've suffered through the Stanley Cup losses to the Habs in the early 70's, the wondrous Denis Savard era in the 80's when they had some competitive teams (damn you Oilers!), in the 90's, Eddie Belfour and JR drove the Hawks to a Cup final in 1992 and the rebuild began in the early 2000's. When the Hawks captured their first cup in decades in 2010, it felt like my dedication and passion for the Hawks was finally getting rewarded. When the Blackhawks made their Stanley Cup run in 2013, my daughter obsessively followed the playoffs and along the way caught the Blackhawks fever and together we gasped, screamed and celebrated their Cup victory. That summer we lined up in +30 c heat to get a glimpse of Jonathan Toews and the Cup at the Jonathan Toews Community Centre in Winnipeg only to be disappointed when they turned away hundreds of people still in line for an autograph...but it was worth it! Since then, we've streamed and watched every Blackhawks game, pre-season, regular season and playoffs and went to as many Jets games as possible against the Hawks.

Last season truly was a dream year. Another Stanley Cup victory and besides watching every game, my daughter and I flew to Chicago and attended the Blackhawks Convention last July. She had bought the passes and booked the room as my Christmas gift, without thinking they could possibly win the Cup in the same year. Best gift ever! We found our place with our type of people, like-minded Blackhawks fans, young and old all celebrating and embracing the players and coaches from the organization with the bonus of the Stanley Cup in the room. Wow, it was an amazing experience that I highly recommend to any die-hard Hawks fan! How many teams in the league do anything as interactive and personal for their fans. The Blackhawks are a first class organization who knows how to treat their fan base and truly appreciates their support. I tell you, Winnipeg Jets fans are left high and dry with no kind of fan appreciation events, player appearances (apart from car dealership promos) or an opportunity for fans to get together and mingle with other fans or with the players from the organization. Makes me feel like the Jets organization wants to cheap out, take your cash, but doesn't reward dedicated fans with quat. They are missing out the opportunity for fans to make a connection with the team and they should be trying to make lifelong fans who will dedicate a large proportion of their lives to worship the team. Perhaps that was the problem with the Jets 1.0, they had a fan base, but a lot of that fan base turned on the team when the team didn't perform that well. Winnipegger's don't feel sure about anything unless they get a deal and if the present team doesn't improve soon, their fans will definitely turn on them. Two hundred dollar gala dinners and fashion shows don't count because it's not the real fan that can attend, it's an event for the elite and to appease sponsors. At the Blackhawks Convention, I told Troy Murray (former Hawks and Jet) they should have something like this in Winnipeg and he said he would be interested in coming if we had one.

So what went wrong this year? In this age of the tight salary cap, the ability to maintain a winning team is difficult. The Blackhawks have built their team around a core of players that are top players in league and justifiably well paid. They are a cap team, which means balancing salaries and term for the rest of team requires a tricky balancing act. Last summer, the team parted ways with many top players, not because they didn't want them, but because they couldn't afford them. The loss of Sharp, Oduya, Richards, Vermette, Saad and Versteeg hurt, and the quality players lost in the turnover in the roster was higher than any other team in the league. To keep within the cap these players were replaced with younger less experienced players, especially on defence. This hurt and to add insult to injury they resigned Michal Rozsival. The Hawks unearthed a rookie phenom named Artemi Panarin, signed as a free agent from the KHL. Panarin's outstanding season most definitely will earn him the Calder Trophy and will contribute to Patrick Kane's   nomination for the Hart. It's too bad this season was wasted with the achievements of Kane who had a career season and earned him the Art Ross (leading scorer) and became the first ever American born winner. Not to be overshadowed, Corey Crawford had a great season both the regular season and the playoffs. With the Hawks weak D, Crow kept the team in games and without his outstanding season who knows if the Hawks would have made the playoffs. He has to be considered as a top candidate for the Vezina, but he'll be in tight with Braden Holtby who helped lead the Caps to a Presidents Trophy. There is lots to be proud of this season from Patrick Kane's amazing point streak of 26 games, the team's 12 game winning streak (franchise record) and a top 5 regular season finish. I knew the odds were stacked against the team with so many changes in the off-season, so my expectations weren't as high as previous years. This team has some work to do in the off-season this summer, finding a top 4 defenceman, extending Panarin's contract, dumping the rest of Bickell's contract and freeing up some salary to hopefully sign Shaw and maybe one or two of Ladd, Weiss and Panik. I'm very optimistic for next season as I know getting back to the playoffs and making another run for the Cup will be high priorities for the team.

It's too bad the Hawks ran into a hot Blues team in the first round. This truly was the best series of the first round and many believe this could have been the Cup final if the old playoff format was still used. The level of play from the Blues and the Hawks leads me to believe there won't be another series as exciting. The Hawks came back from a 3-1 game deficit to even the series with a game 6 rally and comeback (from a 3-1 first period lead) that I thought the momentum would carry over to game 7. One goal, it was just one goal that determined the series. It's ironic, because the Blackhawks motto the past few years has been, "One Goal" as in the one and only goal is the Stanley Cup. It was one goal that eliminated them this year and one goal in a game 7 against the Kings in 2014 and you know what happened the following year...the CUP.

One goal.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

2016 NHL Playoff First Round Picks- Western Conference

Here's the West!

An interesting match up, this is first time these two teams have met in the playoffs. The Dallas Stars were relocated from Minneapolis to Dallas back in the 1993 and though I doubt any fans in Minnesota have mixed feelings who to cheer for, it does make it intriguing series.
  • The Stars were at top or near the top of the division for much of the season with their high scoring offense led by the dynamic dual of Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin and a decent supporting cast of forwards such as, Jason Spezza and Patrick Sharp. Their defence is more staple than last year and John Klingberg provides plenty of offense from the backend. In net it remains their weakest link, though Niemi and Lehtonen have plenty of playoff experience between them.
  • The Wild have never been a huge offensive threat. They rely on speed and a hard forecheck to make opportunities. They have always played a solid defensive game and defending especially with Devan Dubnyk in goal. The Wild's speed was what helped beat St.Louis last year, but their lack of goal scoring caught up with them against Chicago. 
Injuries could be a factor in this series, but even without Seguin, the Stars still can create enough offense to beat the Wild. If Zach Parise and Thomas Vanek miss the beginning/all of the series, this could be over very quickly in 4 or 5 games, I can't see the Stars losing this series. Here's hoping the Wild make it worth watching.
Stars in 6 

These two teams and their fans hate each other. The thought that the Blues might beat the Hawks boils my blood. The last time they met two years ago, the Blues led 2-0 at home before the Hawks recovered and took the next 4. There was only four points separating the two teams in the regular season and between the Blues, Hawks and Stars, they sat in the top five teams in the league. The Central Division is truly the most competitive with the top three definite contenders for the cup and it's shame one of these teams will be eliminated first round.
  • When healthy, the Blues are as solid a team as there is in the league. In the regular season, they have been consistently near the top of the league, but in the playoffs they have a hard time getting out of the first round. This might be Hitchcock's last chance to prove he can lead this team deeper into the playoffs. 
  • The Blackhawks are the defending Stanley Cup champs. They had a pretty good season, considering how much roster changes took place over the summer. They accomplished a record team winning streak, a team point streak record from Art Ross winner, Patrick Kane and an amazing rookie season from Artemi Panarin. The team limped towards the playoff with no wins against playoff bound teams during March and April and Vezina Trophy candidate, Cory Crawford was out with a head injury. Defensively, the Blackhawks are giving up way too many chances, but at least in recent games their offensive has waken up with goals coming more often. Can Kane and Panarin carry the offense in the playoffs like the regular season? Will the new players added at the trade deadline contribute more (Ladd, Weiss, Erhoff, Fleischmann)? Other than the top 3 D (Keith, Seabrook, Hjalmarsson), will someone step up and prevent Rozival from logging too much ice time?
The Blues have been itching to advance past the first round. Each year there is promise that "this is the year", but the season has ended in disappointment. The Hawks know they can beat the Blues, psychologically and on the ice, but they need Cory Crawford to work his magic he performed earlier in the season and they have to score early and protect the leads better. Keith is out one more game because of suspension and he'll definitely help stabilize their D. The playoffs are a totally different season for the Hawks as they have proven in three of the last six years. Can they flip the switch and turn it on again this year? I believe!
Blackhawks in 6

An interesting cross-divisional matchup between two teams I don't think I've seen play each other. The Ducks handicapped themselves by starting the season playing like crap. I thought for sure Coach Bruce Boudreau would be fired before November, but they turned around their season and possessed one of the best records since Christmas. So good in fact they snuck ahead of LA to take the Pacific division title.
  • The Ducks were top of the league in some key categories. They allowed the fewest goals against per game and they have the #1 powerplay and penalty kill % in the league. The goaltending is solid with both Gibson and Anderson very capable of backstopping the Ducks deep into the playoffs. And once thought of as a one line team, with Perry and Getzlof, they have plenty of depth up front. 
  • A big difference between Nashville this year and last year is they finally found a #1 centre. Ryan Johansson acquired from Columbus for Seth Jones is a very important piece. This team's offense has so long relied on their defenseman to score, they were hard to take seriously as contenders. The Preds were streaky all season and they're a hard read coming into the playoffs.
The success of the Preds live and die by how well Pekka Rinne performs in the playoffs. Rinne is the key to the Preds if they hope to compete with Anaheim. The lack of scoring up front is a continued concern for the Preds and whether they're D can hold off the Ducks big, speedy forwards. This could be a very physical series, but I'm banking on the Ducks to have their way with Nashville. Could be short series if Nashville gets behind early. I think they can win a game or two at home, but in Anaheim they'll be lucky to win one game.
Ducks in 6

The battle of California is a live and well. Since the top three teams in the Pacific are all from Cali, it was guarantee two of teams would meet, probably in round two too. Short travel and hot sunny weather seems kind of cushy for the playoffs, but all three Cali teams could go far. There were only 4 points separating the Kings and Sharks, so no team is an overwhelming favourite.
  • Besides Chicago and probably Washington, the LA Kings are a feared playoff team you don't want to play. They have two cups in this decade so far and the bitterness of not making the playoffs last year will be still in their minds. They have a goalie any team would love to have on their team in the playoffs with Jonathan Quick and this year he's closer to the form he displayed two years ago. They are big, strong, quick and scary good, with not many weaknesses.
  • The Sharks are enjoying a revival with the play of Joe Thornton who has proven this year he's not over the hill yet. This has bolstered their powerplay to the league top 5, with big Brent Burns anchoring the point with a career season. Their netminding has been a pleasant surprise, but the real telling story will be in the playoffs. The team's performance in last seasons playoffs (and last season in general) cost their coach his job. 
While the Sharks seem to have a bit of their mojo back, so have the Kings. Milan Lucic needs to be nasty and Kopitar has to lead this team in the right direction if they hope to beat the Sharks. The Sharks are probably considered the underdogs and they would be fine with that. The pressure is more on the Kings to prove they can still be considered a serious Stanley Cup contender or be at least the team that comes out of California. This could be a coin-flipper and I'm banking it will go the distance to seven games.
Kings in 7

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

2016 NHL Playoff First Round Picks- Eastern Conference

The first games of the first round begin Wednesday. That means there isn't much time to submit your picks for the Bracket challenge or for your office pool, or bragging rights.

Let's get right to the Eastern Conference:

Considering the Panthers were top in the Atlantic and the Islanders were a wild card team, it sounds like this would be a mis-match. But consider there was only 3 points separating the two teams (FLA- 103, NYI- 100) and this has a good possibility of a long series.
  • The Panthers have had a spectacular season making the playoffs with a solid team effort with ageless wonders, Jaromir Jagr (44 years old) and Roberto Luongo (37 years old) and young stars, Aaron Ekblad and Aleksander Barkov. Their special teams are anything but special, ranked in the bottom third of the league for both the pk and pp.  
  • The Islanders begin and end with most of it's offensive production from John Tavares. He carries this team like no other player in the league. Their defence is slim if they are without Travis Hamonic for any part of the first round with only John Boychuk and Nick Liddy providing experience on the back end. If Halak is out for the start the playoffs, the Isles will rely on Thomas Greiss and J-F Berube in the nets. With or without Halak, the Panthers have a huge edge in goal with Luongo who has much more playoff experience.
For me, in the playoffs goaltending is such a key. With that in mind I don't believe the Isles can hold off the fire-power of the revitalized offensive of the Panthers lead by old man, Jagr. Tough to call, could be 6 or 7.
Panthers in 6

Twenty five years, that's how many years in a row the Detroit Red Wings have participated in the post-season. With that in mind, they only clinched a berth in this year's playoffs on the second last day of the season after their last game they actually lost 3-2 to the Rangers. Fortunately, the Boston Bruins also lost in a 6-1 blowout to the non-playoff bound Sens. Last season, the Lightning eliminated the Wings in the first round after the Wings blew a 3-2 series lead winning in 7.
  • The Lightning will be without key players for at least the first round with Steven Stamkos out with a blood clot and Anton Stralman out with a fractured left fibula. They have a weak pp (28th), but decent pk (7th) and without the aforementioned Stamkos and Stralman, their pp doesn't look promising.
  • The Wings seem to be mediocre in all aspects. Their offence can't score, their defence provides little help offensively, their goaltending has been uneven and their special teams have been low-middle of the pack. They are at least consistent, so they don't have any blaring weaknesses. Zetterberg and Datsyuk will be counted on for their experience and the Wings hope they can stay healthy to aide the Wings popgun offense.
If the Lightning can tighten up defensively and Bishop plays well, the Lightning have a very good chance. This is a tough call, but with the Lightnings injuries I think the Red Wings will somehow pull off the upset, if you can even call it that. This will go the distance.
Red Wings in 7

By Alex Brandon/AP

Stat-wise, this series has the biggest gap in points differential with the Capitals 24 points ahead of the Flyers in the standings. There wouldn't be a bigger upset if the President's trophy winners bowed out in the first round. That's the great thing about the playoffs, anything can happen and anyone can beat anyone if the stars align properly and momentum is on the side of the Flyers.
  • The Flyers did indeed ride on momentum to push themselves into the playoffs. The Flyers went 20-9-6 after the all-star break to capture the second wild card spot in the East. With the unexpected rise of rookie Shayne Gostisbehere on D and career seasons from Wayne Simmonds and Brayden Schenn, the Flyers won't be a cakewalk. Of course, Claude Giroux and Jakob Voracek can provide plenty of offensive. Their goaltending is solid enough with both Steve Mason And Michal Neuvirth capable of winning a game or two.
  • The Washington Capitals are probably the deepest and most feared team in the league. They breezed through the regular season with a high powered offense (five players over 50 points), lots of depth on D and possibly the best goalie in the league this year, Braden Holtby.
While an upset of the top-seeded team in the league is a lovely scenario, I think the Caps have too much going for them. The Flyers might win one of the first two games in Washington and maybe win one more at home, but these are high expectations. Apart from the on ice performance of the Caps stars, Barry Trotz is a very shrewd, levelheaded coach. If things go off the rails, I'm confident he'll steer the ship the right way. Oh, and did I mention that Holtby is a very very good goalie.
Capitals in 5

The New York Rangers have eliminated the Pittsburgh Penguins from the playoffs the last two seasons. The Rangers seemed comfortably safe near the top of the Met, but a surging Penguins team that had a great March and April squeaked by the Rangers to finish 3 points ahead. Much of this series might come down to the health of key players on both teams.
  • The Penguins have been without Malkin for an extended period of time already and believe it or not their offensive output hasn't been hurt too much. On paper, the Penguins don't have as much depth in key positions, but they have a hot Sidney Crosby and a healthy Kris Letang. Question mark is in goalie with M-A Fleury still feeling the effects of a concussion last month. He might not start the series, and if backup Matthew Murray can't go as well, they could be in trouble.
  • The Rangers might be without their best defenceman, Ryan McDonagh for some of the first round and their forwards are inconsistent., but they have Lundqvist in goal. Will Eric Staal be a factor?
If the series comes down to goaltending, the Pens could be reeling if Fleury can't go. This means the Pens offense has to be in high gear and useful contributions from Phil Kessel and Carl Hagelin could help Crosby push this to another gear. The Rangers are solid throughout, but I have a hunch the Penguins will shake the monkey off their back and eliminate the Rangers in a fast paced, interesting series.
Penguins in 6

Monday, April 11, 2016

2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs First Round Schedule

This Wednesday begins the long exciting journey to see who will be this year's Stanley Cup champions. If you're a hockey fan, this truly is the best time of the year! The defending Stanley Cup champion, Chicago Blackhawks will defend their title against the St. Louis Blues in the first round. The Blues and the Blackhawks are the 2 and 3 seeds in the tough Central division and considering they are also the 3rd and 5th top teams in the entire league, it's an injustice one of these teams will be eliminated in the first round. Both teams have to be considered a top contender for the cup, so this should be one of the most closely contested series in the first round.  There is a bias on this page, so clearly the Hawks will move on, but this should be fun, scary fun!

There are many interesting match ups and considering how close some of these teams are point wise, with the exception of Washington, it will be very hard to predict winners in my playoff bracket. Make sure to choose your picks for the 2016 NHL Bracket Challenge as soon as possible because the deadline to enter expires a minute before the first playoff game drops the puck. I will give a more detailed look at who I think will be the winners and losers of this years playoffs in the days leading up to opening night. Stay tuned!

Here are the dates, starting times and national TV coverage for the 2016 Stanley Cup playoffs first round. (note: all times are Central Time)

Florida Panthers (A1) vs. New York Islanders (WC1)
Thu 4/14, 7pm: NYI @ FLA | CNBC, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
Fri 4/15, 6:30pm: NYI @ FLA | NHL Network, SN360, TVA Sports
Sun 4/17, 7pm: FLA @ NYI | NBCSN, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
Wed 4/20, 7pm: FLA @ NYI | USA, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
*Fri 4/22, TBD:  NYI @ FLA | TBD
*Sun 4/24, TBD:  FLA @ NYI | TBD
*Tue 4/26, TBD:  NYI @ FLA | TBD
Tampa Bay Lightning (A2) vs. Detroit Red Wings (A3)
Wed 4/13, 6pm: DET @ TBL | NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports
Fri 4/15, 6pm:DET @ TBL | CNBC, CBC, TVA Sports
Sun 4/17, 6pm: TBL @ DET | CNBC, CBC, TVA Sports
Tue 4/19, 6pm: TBL @ DET | NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports
*Thu 4/21, TBD:  DET @ TBL | TBD
*Sun 4/24, TBD:  TBL @ DET | TBD
*Tue 4/26, TBD:  DET @ TBL | TBD

Washington Capitals (M1) vs. Philadelphia Flyers (WC2)
Thu 4/14, 6pm: PHI @ WSH | NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports
Sat 4/16, 6pm: PHI @ WSH | CNBC, CBC, TVA Sports
Mon 4/18, 6pm: WSH @ PHI | NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports
Wed 4/20, 6pm: WSH @ PHI | NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports
*Fri 4/22, TBD:  PHI @ WSH | TBD
*Sun 4/24, TBD:  WSH @ PHI | TBD
*Wed 4/27, TBD:  PHI @ WSH | TBD

Pittsburgh Penguins (M2) vs. New York Rangers (M3)
Wed 4/13, 7pm: NYR @ PIT | USA, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
Sat 4/16, 2pm: NYR @ PIT | NBC, CBC, TVA Sports
Tue 4/19, 6pm: PIT @ NYR | USA, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
Thu 4/21, TBD: PIT @ NYR | Sportsnet, TVA Sports
*Sat 4/23, TBD:  NYR @ PIT | TBD
*Mon 4/25, TBD:  PIT @ NYR | TBD
*Wed 4/27, TBD:  NYR @ PIT | TBD


Dallas Stars (C1) vs. Minnesota Wild (WC2)
Thu 4/14, 8:30pm: MIN @ DAL | NBCSN, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
Sat 4/16, 7pm: MIN @ DAL | NBCSN, Sporstnet, TVA Sports
Mon 4/18, 7:30pm: DAL @ MIN | NBC, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
Wed 4/20, 8:30pm: DAL @ MIN | NBCSN, SN360, TVA Sports
*Fri 4/22, TBD:  MIN @ DAL | TBD
*Sun 4/24, TBD:  DAL @ MIN | TBD
*Tue 4/26, TBD:  MIN @ DAL | TBD

St. Louis Blues (C2) vs. Chicago Blackhawks (C3)
Wed 4/13, 8:30pm: CHI @ STL | NBCSN, SN360, TVA Sports
Fri 4/15, 7pm: CHI @ STL | NBCSN, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
Sun 4/17, 2pm: STL @ CHI | NBC, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
Tue 4/19, 8:30pm: STL @ CHI | NBCSN, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
*Thu 4/21, TBD:  CHI @ STL | TBD
*Sat 4/23, TBD:  STL @ CHI | TBD
*Mon 4/25, TBD:  CHI @ STL | TBD

Anaheim Ducks (P1) vs. Nashville Predators (WC1)
Fri 4/15, 9:30pm: NSH @ ANA | NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports
Sun 4/17, 9:30pm: NSH @ ANA | NBCSN, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
Tue 4/19, 8:30pm: ANA @ NSH | USA, SN360, TVA Sports
Thu 4/21, 7pm: ANA @ NSH | CNBC, FX Canada, TVA Sports
*Sat 4/23, TBD:  NSH @ ANA | TBD
*Mon 4/25, TBD:  ANA @ NSH | TBD
*Wed 4/27, TBD:  NSH @ ANA | TBD

Los Angeles Kings (P2) vs. San Jose Sharks (P3)
Thu 4/14, 9:30pm: SJS @ LAK | CNBC, CBC, TVA Sports
Sat 4/16, 9:30pm: SJS @ LAK | NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports
Mon 4/18, 9:30pm: LAK @ SJS | NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports
Wed 4/20, 9:30pm: LAK @ SJS | USA, CBC, TVA Sports
*Fri 4/22, TBD:  SJS @ LAK | TBD
*Sun 4/24, TBD:  LAK @ SJS | TBD
*Tue 4/26, TBD:  SJS @ LAK | TBD