With round one of the 2015 Stanley Cup playoffs in the book it is time to move on to our predictions for the semi-finals, which begin tonight. before doing so, let’s take a look back at our predictions and see just how well we did.
Minnesota Wild vs St. Louis Blues
Marc’s Prediction: St. Louis Blues, 6 games
Ryan’s Prediction: St. Louis Blues, 5 games
Nashville Predators vs Chicago Blackhawks
Marc’s Prediction: Chicago Blackhawks, 6 games
Ryan’s Prediction: Nashville Predators, 7 games
Anaheim Ducks vs Winnipeg Jets
Marc’s Prediction: Anaheim Ducks, 7 games
Ryan’s Prediction: Anaheim Ducks, 6 games
Vancouver Canucks vs Calgary Flames
Marc’s Prediction: Calgary Flames, 6 games
Ryan’s Prediction: Vancouver Canucks, 6 games
Montreal Canadiens vs Ottawa Senators
Marc’s Prediction: Montreal Canadiens, 7 games
Ryan’s Prediction: Ottawa Senators, 7 games
Tampa Bay Lightning vs Detroit Red Wings
Marc’s Prediction: Tampa Bay Lightning, 5 games
Ryan’s Prediction: Tampa Bay Lightning, 7 games
New York Rangers vs Pittsburgh Penguins
Marc’s Prediction: New York Rangers, 4 games
Ryan’s Prediction: New York Rangers, 6 games
Washington Capitals vs New York Islanders
Marc’s Prediction: Washington Capitals, 6 games
Ryan’s Prediction: Washington Capitals, 7 games
Marc: 7-1 teams, 3-5 games
Ryan: 4-4 teams, 3-5 games
Round 2 Predictions
Today the National Hockey League announced finalists for the 2015 Calder Memorial trophy. Among the three individuals chosen is Florida Panthers rookie Aaron Ekblad. The 19 year old defenseman recorded 39 points for Florida during his first NHL season.
Ekblad will face some stiff competition for the award. Also nominated are forwards Johnny Gaudreau from the Calgary Flames and Mark Stone from the Ottawa Senators. Gaudreau and Stone tied for the lead in rookie scoring with 64 points.
The 2015 NHL Awards show will take place on Wednesday, June 24th, live from the MGM Grand Garden arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Over the next two days 16 teams will begin their quest to be named the 2015 Stanley Cup Champions. This season there are a few teams missing that are usually regulars in the playoffs, such as the Boston Bruins and last year’s champions, the Los Angeles Kings. They can thank the Winnipeg Jets, Calgary Flames, Ottawa Senators, and New York Islanders, all teams that have not frequented the playoff picture in recent years, but have had a change in fortune this season. The 2014-2015 campaign was a tight race to the postseason, so hockey fans are guaranteed tough match-ups throughout the first round and beyond. That is why it will be harder this year than in the past to predict which club will come out on top, but we are going to give it our best try.
Moves like Jagr
Maybe the fountain of youth is in Florida after all. Jaromir Jagr, The 43 year-old “Kid from Klando” has gone above and beyond the expectations that many set for him when he first arrived in south Florida just days before the NHL trade deadline. Though he was held of the score sheet in his Panther debut on February 28th against Buffalo, Jagr immediately made a tangible impact on Florida’s young core. He hasn’t looked back. In the 14 games he has played so far, he has 12 points. More importantly, in those same 14 games, his young line mates have benefited from his wisdom both on and off the ice. Jonathan Huberdeau (4G, 12A – 16P) and Alexander Barkov (5G,5A – 10P) both look like completely different players, and most of that is due to the sheer presence that a player of Jagr’s caliber brings.
399 and counting….
Roberto Luongo returned to the ice last week after a six game absence due to an upper body injury. He has picked up points in four out of his five starts (going 3-1-1) and has looked solid throughout most of those games. His most recent outing against Toronto earned him his 399th career victory, putting him one shy of the 400 mark. Roberto would like nothing more than to hit the 400 mark, and he couldn’t have picked a better time to do it, as what many are calling the single most important game of the season (thus far) looms large in Boston tomorrow night.
Nick Bjugstad has been a workhorse this season for the Florida Panthers; spending time on the top 2 lines and seeing regular shifts on the power play. He’s matched up against top-tier talent a nightly basis and has posted career highs in goals (24 – team high) and points (43 – second on team). Unfortunately, those numbers will both stay where they are at as it was announced earlier this week that Bjugstad underwent successful season-ending surgery to repair a nagging lower back injury. His presence will be sorely missed as Florida makes its final push to the playoffs with just six games remaining in the regular season.
The Road Ahead
As the season winds down, the points only become more valuable. Losing in overtime or the shootout, and beating teams you are chasing in extra time no longer suffice. Florida (85 points, 10th place) picked up a big win on Sunday against Ottawa (86 points, 9th place), winning in regulation 4-2. It will need to carry that same momentum into this week against division rival Boston (89 points, 8th place). Though the Panthers clawed their way to a 2-1 shootout victory over the Bruins in a thriller at the BB&T Center in Sunrise last week, they will need to take both points home in regulation if they want to gain any ground in the frenetic race for the final wild card spot. The puck drops tomorrow night at 7:00.