2015 NHL Playoffs Top Matchups
The NHL Regular Season is set in stone and the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs are ready to kick off. The top 16 teams are alive and ready to make the final push towards winning a championship. While each of the matchups offers something intriguing, here my picks for the top 3 series to look for in the 1st round of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
New York Rangers vs. Pittsburgh Penguins
The New York Rangers dominated the regular season, pulling in the highest point’s total of any team in the NHL and brought the Presidents Cup back to New York. The Rangers finished the regular season in the top 3 in both goals per game and goals allowed. Rangers goal tender, Henrik Lundqvist has had one of his best seasons, and will look to make everyone forget about his performance in last season’s Stanley Cup Finals. While this stellar regular season should give them plenty of confidence moving into the playoffs, they shouldn’t sleep on the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Penguins are a very proud and talented team, with Sydney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin still one of the most dynamic duo’s in all of hockey. These two teams played to a thrilling 7 game series in last season’s Eastern Conference semifinals, with the Rangers winning 3 elimination games in a row. The final game of the series was a 2-1 thriller that was one of the best games of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Expect nothing but a back and forth battle in this series.
Chicago Blackhawks vs. Nashville Predators
Along with the Los Angeles Kings, no team has been as dominate as the Chicago Blackhawks over the last 5 seasons. The Blackhawks won Stanley Cups in 2010, and 2013, and were just one game away from reaching another final last season. The Blackhawks enter the playoffs allowing the 2nd fewest goals per game of any team in the NHL. They also will get longtime star Patrick Kane back from injury just in time for the start of their series with the Predators. The Predators on the other hand have never reached the Stanley Cup finals and are as hungry as anyone to bring a title back to Nashville. The Preds will own home ice throughout the series and will look to wear out the veteran Blackhawks. The two teams played 4 times through the course of the season, with Chicago winning 3. 3 of the 4 games were decided by 1 goal, and 2 of them went to overtime. If that is any indication, we are in for a great series.
Washington Capitals vs. New York Islanders
The Capitals and Islanders are both part of the Eastern Conferences Metropolitan Division and finished the season dead even at 101 points. The Capitals had one of their best seasons in years, finishing in the top ten in both goals scored and goals allowed per game. Alex Ovechkin is still one of the world’s top players and will be looking to add that missing Stanley Cup to his career resume. The Islanders struggled in the net at times this season, but made up for it by scored goals in bunches. The Islanders finished 4th in the NHL in goals scored per game and center John Tavares is one of the most exciting players in all of hockey. The Capitals and Islanders played 4 times this season, with teams splitting the series 2-2 and 3 of the games going to overtime. There is little doubt that this will be an all out battle to advance to the next round.