Brother Banter: Eastern Conference Round One Predictions

NHL: Washington Capitals at Toronto Maple Leafs
Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

By: Adam and Rossy Pasternak

The boys are back! This time, with their Eastern Conference Round One Predictions. Will the Leafs upset the Caps? Will the Habs be able to forget about their rollercoaster season and start fresh against the Rangers? All that, and more, is answered below. Check it out, and keep your eyes out for the Western Conference Round One Predictions coming soon.

Rossy: Alright Adam, it’s that time of year again. Our readers/Lorne Rose want to know who the real contenders are and who the pretenders are in the NHL Playoffs, which begin tonight.

Adam: Dad said he’s picking the California Golden Seals or the Cleveland Barons.

Rossy: The city of Cleveland is on a roll lately, but seriously, who do you like in the East this year.

Adam: I think it’s got to be the Caps, right? I mean, they have a great coach, a great roster and have had a spectacular season. The Penguins are definitely contenders again, too.

Rossy: I like the Caps, and the Pens too. Too bad only one of them can reach the Eastern Conference Finals with this format. The Penguins’ offence is scary good, and Murray and Fleury in net are both outstanding. They have depth in every position. The Blue Jackets are in that talented Metro division as well. The whole playoff format is dumb.

Adam: Couldn’t agree more. It seems like Chicago and St. Louis play each other in the first round every year, and in past years, that matchup should in fact be the conference finals. I really don’t get what was so bad about the old format. Nevertheless, let’s get onto our picks though – starting with the Metro side of the Eastern Conference.

Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Columbus Blue Jackets

Adam: The Jackets are good, but I’m not sure they’ll be able to make any serious noise in the ridiculously good Metro. They don’t have too much experience in Columbus, with their core consisting of mostly young stars, and that could be the difference against Pittsburgh.

Rossy: Dubinsky is Crosby’s kryptonite, though. Remember in 2014 when the Blue Jackets took the Penguins to 6 games, playing them hard the whole series.

Adam: I remember that. Cam Atkinson introduced himself to the entire NHL that series as well.

Rossy: The physical beating that Penguins team took in that series was crazy. Dubinsky never left Crosby’s side, and he really gave him a tough time. What’s even more important to realize, is that this Blue Jackets team is even better than that one.

Adam: So are the Penguins though. Even without Kris Letang, who is out for the whole playoffs, they still have a scary and deep lineup. Two great goaltenders, Crosby and Malkin, a great coach, and just a wealth of depth. It seems like whoever the Pens call up, they just seem to fit in and have a major impact in the Playoffs. Last year it was Connor Sheary and Bryan Rust, this year I think it’s going to be 22 year old Jake Guentzel. In just 40 NHL games for the Pens this season, Guentzel has managed to score 16 goals to go along with 17 assists for a total of 33 points. That’s not something that should go unnoticed.

Rossy: I’ve got the Penguins in 6, how about you?

Adam: I’m with you, Pens in 6.

Washington Capitals vs. Toronto Maple Leafs

Adam: You really want to pick the Leafs for this one, eh?

Rossy: Well, yeah. I’ve actually been telling my friends “Leafs in 4”, but obviously that isn’t going to happen. I do think the Leafs are going to surprise a lot of people, but I dont think they can get it done throughout a whole playoff series.

Adam: As I said earlier, the Caps are the favourites in the East…something that is not new to them. In the past, they have disappointed (or, choked), and so while you’d have to think this series would be a clean sweep, it’s not a sure bet. Anything could happen. Nonetheless, the Presidents Trophy winners are a scary team. They have depth and skill at literally every position, and I just don’t know how anyone will beat them – let alone the Leafs.

Rossy: Remember the last Leafs playoff game we went to at the ACC in 2013?

Adam: How could I ever forget it? Game 6 against Boston. What a game.

Rossy: Right. We were sitting right next to Johnny Bower, and when the Leafs scored, – I think it was Gardiner – Johnny was the first person in the whole arena standing up to cheer at 88 years old at the time.

Adam: Dude’s a legend. He also loved the cookies they were serving, we had a conversation about them.

Rossy: Of course you did. Anyways, my point was that the ACC, and Maple Leafs’ Square outside, was absolutely rocking. I don’t think the Capitals are going to be able to walk all over the Leafs like some people say they will; especially when the Leafs are at home.

Adam: How about the injuries for the Leafs?

ROssy: Yeah, for a team who had so much injury luck in the regular season, they are suffering at the wrong time. Goalie Freddie Anderson is the Leafs’ most vital player, and if he is out, it’s curtains on the Leafs’ season. Right now though, Babs is saying Freddie is ready to go – so let’s not worry about that until we are forced to.

Adam: So, what’s your prediction for this matchup? Mine is Capitals in 6.

Rossy: I have the Caps winning in 7.

Adam: Quite the prediction. I thought I was being generous…

Rossy: You gotta “Be-Leaf” Adam.

Adam: Yeah, Yeah…onto the next one.

Ottawa Senators vs. Boston Bruins

Rossy: This is going to be an interesting one.

Adam: We hate both teams, I mean, do we even need to do this?

Rossy: Yes, unfortunately we do.

Adam: Okay, if we have to, let’s focus on the negatives of both teams. I don’t think Ottawa is ready to make noise. They’re missing Erik Karlsson, possibly for an extended period of time, which really hurts their chances. The Bruins have loads of playoff experience, but are an aging and deteriorating team who will be missing Brandon Carlo for at least Game 1, and Torrey Krug for possibly the whole series.

Rossy: Also, the Senators scorers have a history of disappearing in important moments. It is hard to rely on a core of Kyle Turris and Bobby Ryan for goal scoring. They did bring in Alex Burrows and Derrick Brassard, who both have had great playoff performances in the past, though. Boston has Tukka Rask – although he hasn’t been as good as he once was – and the experience of a few Stanley Cup runs under their belt. Marchand, Bergeron and Chara are always tough to deal with in a playoff series.

Adam: Okay, on to picks. I have the Bruins in 7 – experience wins out.

Rossy: I have the Senators in 7. I think the experience costs the Bruins, as they get worn down and tired in a hard-fought series. See, that wasn’t too bad, was it?

Adam: Actually, it was.

Rossy: Whatever. We’re done with it now, let’s move on.

Montreal Canadiens vs. New York Rangers

Adam: At first I had the Rangers here, but I really think the Habs can pull it out.

Rossy: Woah, traitor. I thought you were a Toronto kid, born and raised to be a Leafs fan, and hate the Habs?

Adam: I am, I am. But still, the Habs aren’t as bad as everyone thinks they are. They still finished with 103 points this season, they have a good coach finally, and a fast team. Plus, any team with Carey Price in net would be a good pick, and the Habs have a clean slate now with Claude Julien. They will be motivated that their poor second half of the season wont effect their hunt for the Stanley Cup.

Rossy: Ok, all good points. But on the other side, you have King Henrik, the de-facto clutch goaltender in the NHL. Both teams have incredible speed and creativity offensively, and both have great goaltending. I think the series comes down to the defence of each teams. In my opinion, the advantage goes slightly to the Rangers here, as they have more offensive potential from their back-end.

Adam: Hank’s had a rough year. In my eyes, he’s nowhere near the same goalie as he was when the Rangers went to the Cup finals against L.A a couple years back. And what, Weber doesn’t score goals?

Rossy: I’m not saying that, he is an exceptional two-way player. I just like the Rangers’ defensive group as a whole better than the Habs’. Ryan McDonagh is amazing, and I love what Brady Skej and Brendan Smith bring to the team.

Adam: Can’t believe I’m saying this, but fair point. These teams met in the conference finals a few years back, where Price got hurt and Marty St. Louis took over. The rivalry is heated, and I can’t wait to watch this series especially. As much as I hate them, I think it would be stupid not to predict Habs in 6.

Rossy: The Rangers are too fast, too skilled, and too deep – I have them winning in 7.

Adam: As a Leafs fan, I hope you’re right.

Make sure to check back for our Western Conference Round One Predictions!

Don’t forget to follow SportsNak on Facebook and Twitter, and follow Adam and Rossy on Instagram: @sportsnak_adam and @sportsnak_rossy


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