MSU has had a Stanley Cup victor in seven of the last 12 seasons. After challenging the Washington Capitals last postseason, the Leafs showed that they have the potential to be a National Hockey League playoff staple for the next decade, and could win a few Cups along the way.
Per usual, the Flyers will have to deal with a Pittsburgh offense that is a twin-turbo of power, led by Sidney Crosby and Evegeni Malkin. Guentzel and Brian Dumoulin each added two helpers for the Penguins and Matt Murray brushed aside 24 shots for the victory.
If Pittsburgh has a weakness, it's in its group of defensemen. As bad as Game 1 was - and it was historically bad - the Flyers have a game on Friday against the Penguins in Pittsburgh for Game 2. Miller led all players traded on February 26 with 10 goals and piling up 18 points in 19 games.
But then came a momentary pause, and Giroux continued.
Malkin pushed the Penguins ahead 3-0 with a spectacular goal at 14:09 as he skated through three Flyers and flipped a backhand shot past Elliott. Over is 7-0 in Penguins last 7 games playing on 1 days rest and over is 4-0 in Penguins last 4 Conference Quarterfinals games and Penguins are 8-1 in their last 9 Conference Quarterfinals games. "It's one of the most physical tournaments to watch".
Claude Giroux was second in the National Hockey League with 102 points (34 goals, 68 assists), his best output in 11 National Hockey League seasons.
Braden Holtby is the experienced goalie on the Washington roster, but Philipp Grubauer is in better form entering the postseason. The former Vezina Trophy victor can get hot and steal some games for the Capitals. He now has 32 goals on the year and 60 career goals in the postseason. The pressure is on him yet again this year and hopefully he won't crumble. Marc-Andre Fleury is going to need to stand on his head if he wants to help his team get to the next round.
The most intriguing matchup in the East is the rematch between the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs, who faced off in the first round in 2013. The second-year defenseman had 41 points during the regular season.
You can't measure experience, but it definitely plays a factor in the playoffs.
Hopes are high in D.C.as the Washington Capitals outlasted a stacked Metro Division to take the top spot, but Rocket Richard Trophy victor Alex Ovechkin and his Washington cohorts drew a tough Columbus Blue Jackets team that enters the playoffs after finishing the regular season on a 10-2-2 run. Most of the players that the team selected were players that most people haven't heard of. The team is 31-11 SU at home this year. None of those players are over the age of 22. They have plenty of young depth like Ivan Provorov and Travis Konecny.
This is my favorite round of the playoffs because all the teams involved will be on my television at some point. The NHL deal, it's hoping, will get the Hulu brand in front of sports fans and let them know they can catch a wealth of TV sports on the $40-per-month service. Insert Artemi Panarin from the Chicago Blackhawks, and the Blue Jackets have a superstar, something they haven't had since Rick Nash was traded away.
It doesn't matter whether it's Sergei Bobrovsky, Braden Holtby, Craig Anderson or Pekka Rinne in net, the Penguins have a penchant for turning Vezina candidates and winners alike into victims in the playoffs.
Columbus does have a glaring problem and that is their goal scoring.
The teams finished with 158 combined penalty minutes that game.
Last season, the Predators lost in the Finals to the Penguins.
Special Teams - On paper, it was not a bad night for the penalty kill. His 33 power-play points was the most among d-men.
The Devils have nearly the same problem as the Blue Jackets, depth scoring.
Crosby's three-spot was complete in quick succession, as he laid his stick blade flat to ramp Dumoulin's pass into the roof of the net at 10:42. Not to mention their goaltending has been pretty subpar.