Welcome to my NHL Playoff Thoughts blog, the second round edition. Thus far, there has been plenty of changes in management, and we have our Conference Final matchups.
As for the management changes, there have been changes of guard in six teams- Arizona, Florida, Minnesota, Ottawa, Anaheim, and Calgary.
The Coyotes made a gutsy move in promoting assistant general manager, John Chayka, to general manager. Chayka, 26, becomes the youngest general manager in NHL history. They also expanded the role of head coach Dave Tipett to executive Vice President of Hockey Operations.
The Panthers made a series of promotions, which included general manager Dale Tallon becoming President of Hockey Operations, and Mark Rowe becoming General Manager.
The Minnesota Wild hired Bruce Broudreau to become their new head coach, eight days after being fired by the Anaheim Ducks after their first round exit. The Ducks are looking for a coach, but it seems more likely that they'll stick with a guy in their organization. Sticking with coaching, the Ottawa Senators got two guys from the Swiss league to help with coaching after firing Dave Cameron. Guy Boucher is the head coach; the used to be the head coach for the Tampa Bay Lightning. The assistant coach is Marc Crawford, who used to coach in the NHL, but also helped coach Auston Matthews this past season in Switzerland.
The Calgary Flames have also fired Bob Hartley and are looking for a replacement without saying anything publicly. I would not be surprised if Mike Yeo gets a call there; same with Todd Richards or even Ted Nolan or Kevin Deenin.
The Conference Semi-Finals have wrapped up in the Eastern Conference. The Tampa Bay Lightning will take on the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Bolts are a young team that needs to win before any drastic changes occur to their team as Steven Stamkos and Alex Kilorn are pending UFAs; Nikita Kucherov is a pending RFA. The Penguins have been probably the best team in the league since January. The matchup is the Bolts defense against the Penguins offense.
Prediction: Penguins in 7
In the Western Conference, the San Jose Sharks will take on the St. Louis Blues. Both teams dominated their respective Game 7 matches. The Sharks game was 5-0; St. Louis was 6-1. Both teams are talented, but neither of them made it this far because of teams like Anaheim, Los Angeles, and Chicago. The Sharks have a team that has three layers of offense- veteran, prime, and young. They have Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, and Joel Ward. They have a prime core with Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture; and a young core with Tomas Hertl and Joonas Donskoi. They have a Sasquatch of a defenseman in Norris Finalist Brent Burns. They have two younger goalies in Martin Jones and James Reimer, and they have both delivered in California. St. Louis is a very talented team with quality defensemen in Alex Piteranglo, Jay Bouwmesster, and Kevin Shattenkirk. Brian Elliot has delivered for St. Louis for most of the time, and their offense has also contributed with success from all four lines.
Prediction: Blues in 7
What are your thoughts? More to come…