The first round should not be this way

The Stanley Cup playoffs begin with five games on Wednesday

Paul Hamilton
April 11, 2017 - 3:01 pm

Photo: Marc DesRosiers - USA TODAY Sports

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(WGR 550) - There just has to be a better way to construct the Stanley Cup Playoffs. One of the matchups in the Eastern Conference pits 13th ranked Boston against 12th seeded Ottawa. Another first round series has number four Columbus against the 2nd seeded Penguins. I would rather see 1-through-16 than this.

Boston is back in the playoffs after being out for two seasons and this time, Claude Julien is coaching Montreal and not Boston.

Ottawa should have captain Erik Karlsson back and I have under estimated the Senators all season and that ends here.

I realize Boston has 39 goal scorer Brad Marchand and a playoff tested Patrice Bergeron, but Tuukka Rask had some problems this season and Zdeno Chara isn’t close to what he used to be.

Boston is banged up on the blue line with Torey Krug and Brandon Carlo nursing injuries.

It’s looking like David Krejci won’t be ready for Game 1.

The regular season doesn’t mean much, but I will put it out there that Ottawa won all four games against Boston.

It’s hard to ignore how the Bruins have scored goals under new coach Bruce Cassidy, but I think Craig Anderson will be up for the task.

Ottawa’s goals come from Karlsson, Mike Hoffman, Kyle Turris and Mark Stone.

Defenseman Marc Methot wants to return after Sidney Crosby slashed off one of his fingers, but he may not play.

When you talk about Columbus it has to start with goalie Sergei Bobrovsky. In 63 games he had a save percentage of .931 with a goals against of 2.06. Despite being a great regular season goalie, he has never been able to come through in 13 playoff games with Columbus and Philadelphia. He’s 2-6 with a 3.49 goals against and .890 save percentage.

The Blue Jackets arrive with two very good young defensemen in Seth Jones and Zach Werenski. The two combined for 23 goals and ate up over 20 minutes per night. Werenski finished the season with a shoulder injury, but is expected to play.

Cam Atkinson was sensational with 35 goals and he combined with Alexander Wennberg to lead the offense.

The Blue Jackets got some bad news when Evgeni Malkin declared himself ready to play. He had 72 points in 62 games while Sidney Crosby led the NHL with 44 goals.

Kris Letang had neck surgery, but Justin Schultz has stepped up in his place.

Matt Murray backstopped Pittsburgh to the Stanley Cup last year. This season was his rookie year and he was 32-10-4 with a .923 save percentage.

I really have no faith at all in Bobrovsky to be able to knock off the defending champs.

Montreal got a scare on Tuesday when Max Pacioretty was hit by a shot in practice, but the captain is OK and will play in the opener against the Rangers.

Montreal is ranked 7th in the NHL, while the Rangers are 9th.

Carey Price is 7-0-0 in his last seven games against New York and he would like to add playoff success to his Olympic Gold Medal.

Pacioretty had 35 goals this season, but only one other Canadien had over 20 goals in former Sabre Paul Byron.

There’s big concern on the blue line with Shea Weber, Jordie Benn and Alexei Emelin all nursing injuries. It sounds like Weber will play in the opener.

Montreal acquired a proven winner in Andrew Shaw while Alexander Radulov is going to try to prove that he can produce in the playoffs.

Henrik Lundqvist hasn’t been himself in two seasons which makes me wonder if age is catching up with the 35-year-old goaltender.

Rick Nash did score 23 goals this season, but he only had 38 points in 67 games.

New York gets goals from many different sources, but I see Price stealing a series for the Habs.

In the Western Conference, Mike Yeo has only coached St. Louis for 32 games and went 22-8-2. He’s up against the team that fired him after 349 games as their head coach. Yeo’s record of 11-17 in the playoffs did him in with the Wild.

The Blues finished the season without two centers, Paul Stastny and Robby Fabbri. The poster boys for playoff failures in St. Louis are all gone. This is clearly Vladimir Tarasenko’s team, but the 39 goal scorer can’t do it alone. They’ll need goaltending from Jake Allen who did really well after Jim Corsi was fired and Martin Brodeur took over.

I’ll be interested to see where St. Louis can get some scoring other than from Tarasenko.

Minnesota is a very good team and is the 5th seed in the NHL. Some of the success can be traced to Devan Dubnyk in goal, but he’s surrounded by a solid defense.

Eric Staal was reborn in Minnesota scoring 28 goals, but Mikael Granlund stepped up and led this team in scoring with 69 points in 81 games.

I enjoy the talent of Nino Niederreiter who netted 25 goals this season. Former Sabre Jason Pominville struggled through much of the season and saw time on the fourth line and in the press box. I see Minnesota breezing through this one.

When you’re lucky enough to win the NHL Draft Lottery yet again and then draft Connor McDavid, you make the playoffs for the first time since 2005-06.

McDavid had 100 points this season and he brought everybody with him. McDavid helped players like Leon Draisaitl who had 29 goals and 77 points. Patrick Maroon netted 27 goals.

Cam Talbot played 73 games in goal, but his save percentage was only .919. It’ll be interesting to see if Talbot is tired.

The 8th ranked Oilers play the 11th seeded Sharks.

I don't how much they can get out of injured players Joe Thornton and Logan Couture. Those are two very important pieces to the San Jose puzzle.

Brent Burns had 29 goals and 76 points, but the defenseman only had two goals in his last 23 games.

The match up I can’t wait to see is McDavid against Marc-Edouard Vlasic. Vlasic is a D that  can keep up with McDavid and it’ll be a chess match to see how much the matchup happens.

Joe Pavelski and Patrick Marleau have scored big goals for San Jose for many years and will have to again if the Sharks want to get out of the first round and repeat as Western Conference Champs.

I’ll be back Thursday with the final three series.

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