It’s a beautiful thing to think that by next week we’ll be watching playoff hockey. We just need to get through the last two nothing games without injury. There’s no 40 goal target on the line anymore, there’s no first in the division that needs to be clinched anymore, hopefully we just see the Leafs players get a bit of rest, and even if they aren’t sitting there is the benefit of only having two games this week, so that’s something.
Heading into the playoffs I thought I’d put out a survey to the TLN team get their predictions for how the playoffs will go. You’ll find the link the same poll at the bottom as it would be great to get some reader responses heading into the playoffs as well. For now, here are the questions and the responses.
It should be noted that the writers did have the option to select first or second round exits, but there was enough optimism in our group that sees the Leafs walk through the North Division. While I can’t count myself amongst the true optimists that see this as a cup winning year, I appreciate that 7 out of 11 respondents think we’ll see the Leafs in the Cup Finals this year.
As much as the North Division shouldn’t be labelled as a joke anymore than the West or East Divisions, it does seem like it’s a two team race in the division at this point. Well, the Leafs are a clear cut above the Oilers, but Connor McDavid and the way he’s played of late is enough to make them the clear cut number two in the division. I was the lone predictor of the Jets in this, as I’m expecting another Connor (Hellebucyk) to be the difference maker in that series.
I guess this is pretty much what you’d expect, though admittedly I was surprised a little by Marner. I personally figure if the Leafs are going have a different outcome this year it will be because Jack Campbell. One of our writers tried to sneak in a second selection, so that’s why we have the .5’s for Matthews and Campbell.
Maybe this is just a little ax grinding about who we aren’t fans of at this point, and I have to admit my shock over Joe Thornton making the cut, but Mikheyev’s inability to score and Rielly’s inability to defend have been pretty well documented. As for Andersen, I get it, we don’t like him, but he’s at best the backup at this point based on how his Marlies conditioning stint is going.
It’s really no surprise that everyone wants to see Campbell start the playoffs, this is based on the fact that he’s been their best goaltender by far and the clear cut starter at this point. As for the four writers who picked a different goaltender to close out the playoffs, I’m assuming they don’t see the Leafs winning the cup.
This was our most divided division of the four, as it is the only one that had 3 different possibilities to make the conference finals. I can’t help but think that the Bruins are there largely based on the belief that if the Leafs are going to make the Stanley Cup Finals the path still needs to go through Boston.
This is as close as it gets when it comes to a split vote. You’ll see below that both of these teams are regarded as cup favourites by our writers as well.
Another split, but the analytics darlings get the edge. Personally I went with the defending cup champions that are adding Nikita Kucherov for the playoffs. They will have the tougher path to the second round though, as facing the Panthers instead of the Preds is a bit more of a task.
We’re a Leafs site. It’s good that we’ve got some writers who are very optimistic about this team. Me, I’ve spent much of life being hurt or disappointed by this team, and it will take a month after the Stanley Cup parade before I’ll be able to come to terms with the Leafs not being a draft lottery team. A lot of love for the Pacific teams, a bit more for the Central (why on Earth wasn’t it called the South division), and absolutely no faith in any of the Eastern teams. I’m expecting Rob Rossi will be in our comment section shortly.
Again, Leafs site. Auston Matthews was always going to be a given, but the fact that no other Leafs made an appearance is interesting. The fact that Kadri made makes me proud of the team we have here. Me, I said Kucherov, because that seems like the peak NHL thing to have happen.