Islanders, Blues could surprise in playoffs’ opening round

Craig Berube

Trying to find upset winners in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs is like taking part in an Easter egg hunt and then moving over to a haystack with only one or two needles in it.

But the fun is in the search, right?

So, let’s take a crack at the first round, which begins Wednesday, and see if we can come up with a few surprises.

EAST

>1. Tampa Bay/Columbus: The Florida boys have it all, from scoring to defense to goaltending. Only way the Blue Jackets can keep it close is by keeping the score down. **Lightning in five games.**

>2. Boston/Toronto: Some fur is going to fly in this one. The Bruins are playing some great two-way hockey and have advantage in goaltending. **Bruins in six.**

>3. Washington/Carolina: As much as we’re pulling for Rod Brind’Amour’s crew, the defending Cup champions are loaded up front, led by Alexander Ovechkin. **Capitals in seven.**

>4. New York Islanders/Pittsburgh: Even though Isles have the home-ice advantage, the Pens have to be considered favorites. That’s why taking New York is an upset pick. **Islanders in six.**

WEST

>1. Calgary/Colorado: Flames lost only 10 home games all year (only Tampa, Boston were better). Look for South Jersey’s Johnny Gaudreau (aka “Johnny Hockey’’) to have a big series. **Flames in four.**

>2. San Jose/Vegas: Golden Knights didn’t sneak up on people as much this season but love their grit. Sharks were popular preseason pick but could get surprised here. **Golden Knights in seven.**

>3. Nashville/Dallas: In Peter Laviolette, we trust. **Predators in five.**

>4. Winnipeg/St. Louis: Craig Berube’s guys are peaking at the right time. The Jets were our preseason choice to win it all but that might have to wait another year. Our biggest upset special. **Blues in seven.

*

>Stanley Cup semifinals: Boston over Tampa Bay; Calgary over Nashville.

>Stanley Cup finals: Boston over Calgary.

 

About Wayne Fish 1291 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.

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