By: Josh Chodor
We Know: Penguins vs Capitals is far more appealing than Islanders vs Lightning
Chalk this one up to a failure of the NHL’s confusing playoff structure, where a wild card team from the Metropolitan can theoretically be the champion of the Atlantic Division. We all know the NHL’s current playoff structure accentuates divisional rivalries without taking a team’s overall record into account. Of course, while matchups like Penguins/Rangers and Tampa/Detroit certainly had intrigue, the fact that the records played out as 2(PIT)/4(NYR) and 6(TB)/8(DET) seemed to be a bit unfair. This is even more obvious in the second round, as 1(WSH)/2(PIT) is a fantastic matchup, while 5(NYI)/6(TB) is a battle of injury-plagued squads who could have been bounced in the previous round.
We Know: The Central is as good as advertised. The Pacific is not.
Towards the end of the regular season, the Pacific division proved itself to be a legitimate comparison to the seemingly stronger Central. Yet, after one round of play, the division has not fared well. The Kings, considered by many to be a title contender, bowed out to the Sharks in five games. Meanwhile, Anaheim has been pushed to the brink by the Nashville, with game seven tonight. The real jewel of the first round was the heavily anticipated Blues and Blackhawks series, which also went the distance. Games five through seven were all classics, and expect the Blues to come out strong in the second round after exorcising their opening round demons.