2018 NHL Playoff Preview

18playoffpreviewIt’s time for the most exciting time in the NHL season as the playoffs are about to begin and things are about to get a lot more serious.

It is always a challenge in the playoffs as the great teams have to find a way to be great when things really matter.

Those teams are built to win but doing it when things get down to the playoffs those great teams have to find a way to stay balanced.

They can’t get too up or too down and if they can stay right in that pocket of being balanced they can make a deep run into the playoffs.

All of the top teams in the league have the talent to make a run but that is never what makes the difference.

Talent doesn’t necessarily win championships because if that was the case there would be no playoff upsets.

It never turns out that way though as upsets are almost certain although nobody knows just who will be the first to get upset.

At any moment a team that seems to have a lot less talent could make a serious run into the playoffs and play for the Cup.

It is a mystery as to who can do it but there are a number of factors that go into a successful run to the finals.

Teams often find success if they are successful near the end of the season as getting momentum into the playoffs.

The better things can be at the end of the regular season the better they tend to be in the playoffs.

Going on a good run grabs momentum and a team with that momentum and plenty of talent can turn that into a lot of success in the second season.

Experience can play a massive factor as well with the most successful playoff teams usually being teams that know what the playoffs are like.hockey-sidebar

There is a lot to say about a group of players that have been through the grind for the regular season and the extended season.

These players can help guide the team through the ups and downs and make sure that nobody gets out of that steady sweet spot.

That experience can help a team make a deep run while teams making their first appearance in the playoffs tend to struggle more often.

Some teams enter the playoffs and just seem to have a mental block as they can’t seem to find their groove in the playoffs.

Time and time again they enter the playoffs with a team that looks good but when they get to the big games they can’t figure things out.

All of these factors play into the playoffs and whether or not a team can truly be successful when things get tighter.

Although there are certainly teams that will enter the playoffs as the favourites there is no guarantee that any of them can make it.

That is what makes the playoffs so entertaining as anything can happen in any series leaving the playoffs a tough thing to predict.

As the second season begins every team wipes their slate clean and the pursuit of the Stanley Cup takes another step forward.

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The Eastern Conference has a somewhat familiar feel to it this year as the favourites have all been here before. There are still some teams that are trying to make a run for the first time in a while but there are few teams without some recent experience in the second season. That should make things interesting throughout the eastern playoffs as the majority of the teams in this conference have been here before. The only team that hasn’t been a part of the playoffs within the last two years is the New Jersey Devils, whose last trip was in 2012 when they went to the Finals. They enter the playoffs with a similar team plus a few key additions that helped them squeak into the playoffs. The Flyers might have missed the mark last year but they found their way in with a steady season this time around. Toronto may not be the most experience but it will be their second year in a row in the second season after years of missing the mark. Meanwhile, joining that group is Columbus who have only been in the playoffs for the last two years although it seems like they are a more experienced team. After all, this was a team that not long ago was a favourite to make it to the Cup. These teams are the newer wave this year as they are mostly led by younger talent but all have that experience on the roster to try to help them make the run. None of it really compares to the other teams who are on the other side as the rest of the teams bring some serious experience and talent. The Boston Bruins and Washington Capitals are full of players that have been to this part of the season before and have made some deep runs. Although Washington has never been able to take a Cup they have been one of the best teams over the last decade. The Bruins have taken a few Cups in that same time and are a team built for playoff hockey. Then there are the teams near the top of the league in Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh. The Lightning have consistently been a Stanley Cup favourite making the finals in 2015 but falling just short. The Penguins are back in the playoffs for another year in what is the one constant in the playoffs. After two straight Cups, the Penguins are attempting to make it three straight after another good year. Those experienced teams bring a lot of talent with them and they are going to be hard to beat. The youth of certain teams could prove the difference but experience often plays a more important role. This year those will be put to the test in the eastern conference playoffs.

eastplayoffpred

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Things seem a lot newer in the West as there are far more teams making a run at the Cup that haven’t been here too often. The Western Conference is seeing a bit of a changing of the guard although there are still some teams with a lot of experience taking another run. Rather than the teams that have all had their chance at taking a title the West is seeing more teams that have not seen that peak quite yet. Like the east, it should make for another interesting playoff run with teams all having that fire of trying to win their first or their first in a long time. They are all trying to make their run at the Cup and a few will be looking to make history along the way. Of course, not every team is looking to make that historical run with some of the old guard remaining to make another run. Most of that comes in the Pacific where the California teams remain in the playoffs looking for another chance to take a Cup. Anaheim, Los Angeles and San Jose are looking to another playoff run where they can use their experience. It will be their biggest asset as all three are among the most experienced teams in the playoffs this year. Other teams have been here before as well with the Minnesota Wild returning to the playoffs along with the Jets, although Winnipeg has looked different this year. One of the more successful teams to make the playoffs has the experience needed to be successful. Nashville went to the Finals last year and although they are a young and exciting team they have been through the grind and came back stronger this time around. There are also the newer teams that haven’t been seen and are looking to make some noise. The Colorado Avalanche just snuck in but after the best turnaround season of the year, they are hoping to prove that they are for real. The team with the least experience could also be the most exciting in the West. The Vegas Golden Knights are a team only one year in the making and yet they are among the best teams in the league. They won the Pacific in their first season as a franchise and now are entering the playoffs as the best expansion franchise in the history of the league. What they can do beyond that is going to be one of the most entertaining stories to watch throughout the playoffs. The West has some of the old guard ready to show just what experience can do for a team in the playoffs. They also have some of the most exciting young talent in the game waiting for their chance to make a deep run.

westplayoffpred

2018 Stanley Cup Finals:
The Staley Cup Finals will put a legendary team from the Original Six against a team that was part of the 1998 expansion who are just beginning to find their stride. The predators and the Bruins have been here before and recently as neither are groups that don’t know what it takes to be successful. They will have a good match between two contrasting styles but it will be the younger, faster team that will come out on top. Although the Bruins are sure to make it a series the Predators have unfinished business that they will solve this time around.

scprediction

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