I went 0 for 2 in the second round for the Eastern Conference. I wrote my piece on how all the Tampa fans out there should be thanking me so I’m moving straight to Shittsburgh and Caps. Like I have said a million times before. Playoffs are all about your offense. The Penguins forwards looked tired. They didn’t sustain any pressure and relied on Sid and Jake to carry their team. I didn’t think the injuries to Malkin and Hags would be of any substance but it looks like that was probably the case. Their play was underwhelming to say the least. As much as I love Kessel, he needs a supporting cast to get the most of out him. The whole Penguins offense looked off. The Capitals on the other hand looked pretty good. I was really impressed with Ovi’s play and I applaud them for not choking….yet.
Now the ECF are set and this is going to be very exciting. I’ll probably be 100% wrong, but I’m going to say Tampa handles the Caps pretty easily. Both of these teams are coming off a series against teams that had some injuries, so it’s hard to dictate who had a better overall series last round. Both are evenly matched in goaltending and d-core. I really like the Lightning to get the job done with their leadership both upfront and on the blue-line. Any hockey fan looking at this series would have to give me a hell of an argument telling me to trust the Caps in this spot. They always find a way to lose and if I am a gambling man, my money is on the Bolts.
I made a list of a couple players on each team to watch. These guys will have to play to their full potential for either team to win.
Tampa Bay Lightning
JT Miller. Hopefully he is motivated playing on the first power play and playing with the top line. He is one of the few players that I thought was a big asset with the Rangers. He will need to bring speed and physical play to the game to help open up space for Kucherov and Stamkos. That gritty style goes a long way in the playoffs and could be exactly what this team needs to get back to the cup finals.
Brayden Point. This kid has impressed me all season. He was the reason why Papa won his fantasy league for the second consecutive year. His presence down the middle has made the Tampa a much deeper team. His 10 points in 10 games is a big factor to why they are here. This depth down the middle what this teams needs to cross the finish line. Such an exciting player to watch and if I was a Bolt fan, I would be pumped for the future with this kid.
John Carlson. Such a crock of shit that he won’t win the Norris this year. Not even nominated and led the league in scoring for defenseman? Makes sense. He has been an offensive threat all year and needs to bring that type of game to this series. Tampa can get overwhelmed at times and being able to throw the puck back up to a threat like Carlson on the blue line is such an asset. Such an underrated player.
8. He’s the leader and will need to carry his team on his back once again. His individual play alone can dictate a game. My only fear is that he is satisfied beating Sidney Crosby. Not much of a rivalry here with the Caps and Bolts, so hopefully he doesn’t become complacent this series. Ovi will need to put up some serious numbers if they want to have a shot. Also, the Tampa Bay penalty kill struggled against Boston. The Caps will need to capitalize as much as they can on the man advantage to put themselves in a good position to win. This is Ovi’s bread and butter so he needs to play big here.
So those are my thoughts going into the Eastern Conference Finals. Hockey is tough sport to predict, especially in the playoffs. You never know who will be the hero. This is why we all love watching the sport. I am certainly looking forward to this series, but tonight is game 7 between the Preds and Jets. Jets were my pick to win the cup so hopefully I didn’t just put the voo doo hex on them.