Welcome, everyone, to the very best couple weeks in hockey. Eight series of sixteen teams going bananas buckwilderness on one another while we watch in delight.
It is time of predictions. It is the time of Keith, a Coin
Haaaaaave you met Keith?
Keith, a Coin, III, is a 2002 quarter minted in Pennsylvania. He is the heir to the lands and titles of of Keith, a Coin, II, who has been lost. He is right half of the time.
Okay, picks now.
Peter: Tampa is the best team the NHL has seen in a long time, but the playoffs are a capricious lord whose reign of terror is measured in hot goalies and bad bounces. The Bolts are flawless, but if Bob can do what he’s never done before — i.e. not suck like a black hole in the loffs — then this will be the biggest upset of the postseason. But he won’t. Tampa in 6.
Ian: The Columbus Blue Jackets nearly missed the playoffs after acquiring literally every spare part available at the trade deadline. Those deals and the team’s go-all-in philosophy looks bad now, but they’re going to look absolutely brilliant when they stage the upset of the postseason against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Bolts have several things going against them: they won the Presidents’ Trophy and are now cursed, they are feeling crushing pressure from fans to make it to the Stanley Cup Final at least, and they are going up against, at least in my opinion, a great goaltender in Sergei Bobrovsky. This is the Blue Jackets last great chance at winning a playoff series for several years. And they will finally do it. Columbus in 7.
Keith, a coin: Columbus.
Peter: I’d say poor Toronto, but that would be insincere. As impressive as they’ve been over these last few years, it sure seems to be like they’re now bumping their head on the ceiling. They’ve been sort of atrocious over the last month, and I’m not expecting a magic turnaround now that they’re facing a very good Bruins team. Their only chance is if Bs can’t score, which isn’t totally impossible. Still, Boston in 6.
Ian: I’m just going to honest. I hate Brad Marchand. I hate his face, his nose, and everything he stands for as a hockey player. I really think this series is a coin flip — hi, Keith — and will come down to who owns more of the big moments. This is more a guess and a pick against Boston because I hate them, but Toronto in 6.
Keith, a coin: Boston.
Ian: Carolina is going to give the Capitals fits at times, especially with their speed on offense. But after witnessing the Capitals’ championship run and seeing the players’ maturity since then, it’s hard for me to imagine the Caps having a let down here. They are playing their best hockey of the year right now. Braden Holtby looks like a brick wall. And that figurative monkey is no longer on their back. Washington in 5.
Keith, a coin: Washington.
Peter: Goalies, it’s long been said, are actually raw chaos magic given human form by the insouciant Planeswalkers who secretly control our reality. This matters because the Islanders’ excellent goaltending will be the fulcrum of this battle. Greiss and Lehner have had a charmed season, but that charm will have to keep going if New York will advance. Pittsburgh has too many weapons, and the Islanders’ defense has become increasingly spotty as the season wore on. This could be tight. Give me Pittsburgh in 7.
Ian: Ah, another one of those series where I’m rooting for the meteor to win. I think this series is going to be fun and at times very trashy. Remember Isles fans during that John Tavares homecoming game? Now imagine them in the postseason plus Sidney Crosby. Yikes. I really want to root for Barry Trotz here, but for some reason in my head, all I can envision is Trotz sitting one of his young stars in a crucial game and putting a broken down, veteran in his place. And oh no, that guy just made a series-losing mistake. Pittsburgh in 4.
Keith, a coin: New York.
Peter: San Jose might have made tactical error when they chose to not improve their piss-poor goaltending at the trade deadline. Martin Jones, he of the 89.5-percent saving during five-on-five play, will backstop the Sharks as they take on a Knights team that has only gotten better with the season. Vegas in 6.
Ian: Before I make my Western Conference picks, I want this to come with the caveat that I have a two-year-old child and I haven’t watched many late games this season. But, not to piggyback off what Peter wrote, but, good god – the Sharks’ goaltending. San Jose, why did you not trade a third-round pick for a talented AHL goaltender on another team. Martin Jones is bad! Bad, bad, bad. Vegas in 5.
Keith, a coin: Vegas.
Peter: I thought Bill Peters was washed up when he and the Hurricanes parted ways last summer. I also thought the Flames were in trouble when they sent Dougie Hamilton packing around the same time. I was wrong on both counts. The Flames are Canada’s best team, and it’s gonna be a total show when they meet Vegas in the second round. Calgary in 5.
Ian: Philipp Grubauer with a VENGEANCE. Colorado in 7.
Keith, a coin: Calgary.
Peter: The Blues were the worst team in the league a few months, but a remarkable turnaround with new coaching and a rookie stud in net punched their playoff ticket. The Jets seem like a daunting opponent, but I really haven’t liked what I’ve seen from them over the past few months. The west is weird right now. I dunno. St Louis in 6.
Ian: Winnipeg was on the brink of making it to the Stanley Cup Final last season, but somewhere along the way this season, they lost their mojo. Maybe it’s just growing pains or maybe it’s just all those hours Patrik Laine plays Fortnite. Regardless, I have a weird feeling about this series. The Blues have seriously rebounded since that poor start to start the year. But, yeah I still can’t pick them. Winnipeg in 5.
Peter: This is what I mean by the west is weird. The Stars snuck into the playoffs with some great goaltending down the stretch, and now they’re facing down a Nashville team that seems markedly worse than they were last season. The Preds just don’t have enough offensive tools to create a lot of chances throughout the lineup. I think this is a prime chance for an upset. Dallas in 7.
Ian: Me pick against Filip Forsberg? C’mon. You know better. Nashville in 5.
Your turn. Share your picks below. And if you’re an RMNB patron, please do get down on our bracket challenge.
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