After an exciting first round in this year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Semifinal Matchups are finally set.
In their series this year, the Blackhawks have been the dominating force. The Hawks swept the series with the Wings this year 4-0-0. While the Red Wings outshot the Hawks 126-114, the Hawks clearly outscored them 14-5. This is further proof in my philosophy of quality over quantity. The Hawks also have the edge in the faceoff circle, overcoming the Wings 121-117.
While the Blackhawks are the obvious favorite in this series, if there is anything that the Quarterfinal Matchups have taught us, it is that nothing is a sure thing. However, this is definitely going to be an exciting series.
This is definitely a series that the Bolts Nation is going to want to keep an eye on. As of next season, the Detroit Red Wings will be joining the Tampa Bay Lightning in Division C. As I have said before, it is never too early to start getting prepared for next season.
This season, the series between the Sharks and the Kings was split right down the middle, each team dropping 2 of the 4 games. With the exception of Game 2 between these two teams, none of the games could be considered a blowout
Much like the rivalry between our Tampa Bay Lightning and the Florida Panthers, the Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks have been in-state rivals for years, but this will mark the first year that these two California teams have met in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The defending champions have definitely had their hands full during the Quarterfinals. Off to a slow start, they dropped the first two games in the series to the St. Louis Blues; however, they would come storming back winning the next 4. All 6 of the games in this series were 1 goal affairs. Two of those were decided in overtime.
The San Jose Sharks have forged a much different path on their way to the Semifinals. The Sharks made short work of the Vancouver Canucks, sweeping the series 4-0.
I think you can expect to see some very close games in this series. Six of the last 10 games between these in-state rivals have been mere 1-goal games.
No matter which side of the ice you stand with in this series, the one thing that is certain is that this will be a long, well fought series with plenty of nail biting games.
Now we head to the Eastern Conference Matchups.
During the regular season, the Penguins have taken each of the three games the Pens and Sens have played this series. Two of the three games were decided by 2 goals. The first game of the series was decided by just one goal, as Evgeni Malkin got one past then-Ottawa goaltender Ben Bishop in a shootout. Bishop, as we all know was recently traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for rookie Cory Conacher.
Both of these teams have had similar experiences in the Quarterfinal Round of the Playoffs this year.
The Senators basically dominated P.K. Subban and the Montreal Canadiens, taking the series 4-1. This series may have been a blowout, but it was definitely not boring. This is a series that resulted in a total of 347 minutes, or 5.78 hours of penalty minutes. As most of us know by now, 236 of those penalty minutes were accrued in Game 3 when a bench clearing brawl broke out in the third period, which ultimately resulted in 11 game misconducts, 6 to Montreal and 5 to Ottawa.
The Pittsburgh Penguins had a very similar experience in their series against the New York Islanders. Well, minus the almost 6 hours in penalty minutes.
The Pens/Islanders series was pretty much a back and forth tug of war between these two Eastern Conference teams. It wasn’t until the very end that the Pens were able to take 2 in a row and eliminated the Isles from contention.
While some would assume that the Penguins are the sure fire bet to take this series, I think they are going to have their hands full with the Senators coming to town.
Penguins captain Sidney Crosby shared a very similar sentiment.
They’re playing good hockey; they’re pretty similar,” Crosby said. “They have some fast forwards, a lot of skill, a lot of speed. We’re going to have to do a better job of keeping the puck out of our end and out of our net.” – via NHL.com
This is another series that those of us in the Bolts Nation should pay close attention to. When the new realignment takes hold next season, the Ottawa Senators will be joining the Bolts in Division C. While many Bolts fans will be excited at the prospect of seeing Cory Conacher on the ice once again, it is going to be a whole other story when he is on the opposite side of the ice shooting on our goaltenders.
This will be the first time that these two teams have met in the post season in 40 years.
The New York Rangers took 2 of the 3 meetings between them and the Bruins this season. Both of those encounters came in extra time, one of those in overtime, and the second in a shootout.
Both the Rangers and the Bruins were taken to a Game 7 in the Quarterfinals.
After taking 3 of the first 4 in the series, Boston would drop the next 2 games in a row to force a Game 7 in Boston at the TD Garden. In game 7, Boston was able to overcome a 4-1 deficit at the hands of the Toronto Maple Leafs to come back and tie the game at 4 in the final minutes of the 3rd period. In overtime, it would be the Bruins who would sink the final shot and head to the next round.
On the other hand, the New York Rangers had quite the back and forth battle with the Washington Capitals. The Capitals took the first two games in the series, followed by them sequentially dropping the next two to the Rangers. The Caps would take Game 5. Then, in the competitive fashion, the Rangers would battle back to force a Game 7 against the Capitals.
However, Game 7 was all about the New York Rangers. On enemy ice in Washington, the Rangers would absolutely decimate the Washington Capitals 5-0. Henrik Lundqvist would post his second shutout in a row, blocking 35 shots on goal.
This is going to be an exciting series, to say the very least. Both of these teams were pushed to the brink in their respective series in the Quarterfinals, as well as by each other in the regular season. While I have my personal favorite, there is no odds-on favorite in this series. I believe this one may be destined to come down to the wire.
This is the last of the matchups with special interest to Bolts fans. Again, with the new NHL Alignment, the Boston Bruins are another team that will be joining the Tampa Bay Lightning in Division C next season. The rivalry between the Bolts and the Bruins has been heated in the past. One can only assume that being in the same division will do nothing but intensify that rivalry going forward.
No matter which side of the ice you sit on during this post season, we are certainly in for an exciting ride. Old rivalries are going to be rekindled, and new rivalries are due to start.
Who are you rooting for in the Semifinal Round? Who do you think will ultimately come out on top? Sound off in the comments below and let us know where you stand.