A playoff where anything seems possible, even an Edmonton-Toronto final! https://t.co/iOJ7dDXESc –
Radio-Canada Sports (@RC_Sports) April 17, 2023
That’s it: as of tonight, the NHL playoffs will get underway. In fact, four series will start tonight, and the other four will begin tomorrow. Here are my eight predictions for the first round.
- Bruins in five against the Panthers
- Lightning in six against the Maple Leafs
- Hurricanes in four against the Islanders
- Devils in seven against the Rangers
- Avalanche in five against the Kraken
- Stars in seven against the Wild
- Golden Knights in five vs. Jets
- Oilers in six against the Kings
Clearly, some series will be more exciting than others to follow. The Bruins, with the Panthers’ first pick at stake for the Canadiens. The Devils. The Oilers. We’ll be treated to some good field hockey in general,but for me, nothing compares to the series pitting the Maple Leafs against the Lightning. After all, we’re talking about two good teams, of course, but we’re also talking about an important issue. And what’s that? Seeing the Maple Leafs collapse.
There’s a lot of hope in Toronto right now. The club seems to have built itself not to score often, but to try and beat the Lightning in the first round of the playoffs. And if that’s the case, the road could be open.
But then again. You know as well as I do that even though Toronto has the longest active streak of consecutive playoff appearances in the NHL (7), nothing is a foregone conclusion for the club. The last time Toronto made it past the first round (2004), I wasn’t watching NHL field hockey because I was too young to follow it closely. Because the Lightning are the Leafs’ bête noire, it’s impossible for me to bet on Toronto. Could it happen? Yes, it can happen. That said, in recent years, the Queen City club has often collapsed, and before predicting anything, I’ll wait to see them win four games.
And according to some well-placed people in the business, it’s not an impossible scenario. In addition to being the bookies’ favorites, Pierre LeBrun found that no less than 14 out of 18 people in the field hockey world think Tampa Bay will lose.
The Maple Leafs are favoured over the Lightning. Does the NHL community buy it? I checked in with rival coaches and front office execs for their pick in the Tampa Bay-Toronto series. My latest:https://t.co/QCMG9EiQXW –
Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) April 17, 2023
The journalist asked five NHL coaches and they all think Toronto will win. What’s more, nine of the 13 executives questioned by LeBrun also see Toronto going through. Too often, the Leafs have lost to the underdogs (notably the Canadiens in 2021), and getting rid of such a weight on a club’s shoulders is clearly not easy.
Doing it against a dynasty like the Lighnting adds to the level of difficulty. And just because Tampa is more sluggish right now, I don’t want to make the mistake of underestimating the club.Again, there’s a world where that happens. There’s a world out there where the Maple Leafs do manage to chase away their demons… but I’m going to believe it when I see it.
– Speaking of Toronto and Tampa Bay.
Series W against Tampa ✅
Heading to Toronto with great read ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/loPL78Exi4
– Renaud Lavoie (@renlavoietva) April 17, 2023
Tyson Hinds and Joshua Roy named
@QMJHL All-Star First Team 🌟
The Rocket are forced to push back their practice to 4pm due to a problem with the compressor used to keep the rink frozen. Better that it happens Monday morning and not Wednesday night! 😳 –
Anthony Marcotte (@anthonymarcotte) April 17, 2023
– Luc Gelinas (@LucGelinasRDS) April 17, 2023