The Seven Player profile approach to picking playoff winners went five up and three down in round one of the playoffs. Let’s review round one and apply what we have learned to round two.
EASTERN CONFERENCE - SUMMARY
Florida Pathers (1) vs Washington Capitals (8)
Prediction: Panthers in 6
Result: Called It 😊
This one was really close to swinging in the Capitals favour, but they continue to feel the effects of letting one of the best coaches in the league walk after winning a Stanley Cup. The Caps run is over, and they just didn’t have the horses to deal with Florida’s depth.
Carolina Hurricanes (2) vs Boston Bruins (7)
Prediction: Canes in 5
Result: Canes in 7
After a quick 2-0 start, the Canes let the Bruins back into it and after losing their back-up goalie to injury it looked like the Bruins might steal this one. In the end, Boston’s lack of depth kept them from stealing a game on the road. Their profile lacked a solid goaltending option as well.
Toronto Maple Leafs (3) vs Tampa Bay Lightning (4)
Prediction: Lightning in 5
Result: Lightning in 7
The Leafs surprised me in this series. However, in the end, Kyle Dubas poorly constructed Seven Player profile saw his inexperienced goalie get outplayed by one of the league’s best when it mattered most. His power forward, William Nylander, may have played the entire series without skating through the slot. The Bolts did not look themselves and I thought they were done in Game 6 but the fact that they weren’t showed that the Leafs just aren’t ready to win yet and likely won’t with Jack Campbell as their alpha dog starter.
New York Rangers (5) vs Pittsburgh Penguins (6)
Prediction: Penguins in 5
Result:Rangers in 7
I stand by the prediction in this one and the injuries in the crease and then to Sidney Crosby really turned the tide for the Rangers. Had Crosby not gone down in game 5, it likely would have ended that night. When Igor Shesterkin wasn’t his usual self, the Rangers looked very pedestrian. I predicted Shesterkin was their only real chance and that ended up being the case in their four victories.
Colorado Avalance (1) vs Nashville Predators (8)
Prediction: Avalanche in 5
Result: Avalanche in 4
No surprise in this one. If I had done my due diligence and realized that Juuse Saros was not going to play in the series, I might have predicted Avalanche in a sweep. They are deep and they are deadly. They have been built the right way and as long as Darcy Kuemper recovers from his high sticking incident, it should be business as usual moving forward.
Calgary Flames (2) vs Dallas Stars (7)
Prediction: Stars in 6
Result: Flames in 7
Well props to the Flames for gutting out that win. Their pieces of the profile puzzle were a little bit better than those of the Stars minus Jake Oettinger of course. In the end, the Flames didn’t need a lot of offence to win this series, but they will with their next opponent.
Minnesota Wild (3) vs St. Louis Blues (4)
Prediction: Blues in 5
Result: Blues in 6
This was no great surprise. The Wild pushed all in on a team whose seven-player profile is murky at best. The Blues were deeper down the middle and wore them down over time. At least now the Blues know who they will be playing in goal.
Edmonton Oilers (5) vs Los Angeles Kings (6)
Prediction: Kings in 6
Result: Oilers in 7
I almost had this one. The Kings had it going home. I give the Oilers credit. Their profile players were huge for them and better than the Kings’. Of course, if I had not overlooked Drew Doughty’s injury, I most likely would have gone with the Oilers in the series.
ROUND 2 PREDICTIONS
Florida Panthers (1) vs Tampa Bay Lightning (3)
The Panthers were an unproven number one team going into the playoffs. Now they have beaten a tough Capitals team and came through in the clutch doing it. They have escaped the first round with their seven-player profile intact. The Lightning can’t say the same. They did not resemble the team that had won the previous two cups at several points during the opening round. Brayden Point is nursing an injury and the belief is that so is Nikita Kucherov. Vasilevskiy is better than Bobrovsky who, in my view, is the only shaky link in the chain. Vasilevskiy won the series against the Leafs when it mattered, but I don’t think he will do that here. The Panthers have too much and if they were going to lose in the Eastern conference, it was going to be in round 1.
Prediction: Panthers in 5
Carolina Hurricanes (2) vs New York Rangers (5)
1. #1 all star center Sebastian Aho Mika Zibanejad
2. #2 all star center Vincent Trocheck Ryan Strome
3. Top power forward Andrei Svechnikov Chris Kreider
4. Specialist/Utility Player/Agitator/ Jordan Staal Ryan Reaves
5. All star offensive d-man Tony D’Angelo Adam Fox
6. Top shutdown d-man Jacob Slavin Jacob Trouba
7. All star goalie Antti Raanta Igor Shesterkin
The Canes were really tough on home ice in round one and luckily for them, they will have the same advantage in round two. The Rangers advanced in round one on some great goaltending from Igor Shesterkin and some luck on the injury front from the Penguins. The Rangers’ profile is better than the Bruins’ but, Shesterkin is their only hope again. I think Rod Brind’Amour will get the matchups he wants on home ice to take Zibanejad’s line out the way he did the perfection line from Boston in round one. If Raanta’s health holds up, he can give the Canes enough of what they need to get done what they need to get done.
Prediction: Canes in 5
Colorado Avalance (1) vs St. Louis Blues (4)
1. #1 all star center Nathan Mackinnon Robert Thomas
2. #2 all star center Nazem Kadri Ivan Barbashev
3. Top power forward Gabriel Landeskog David Perron
4. Specialist/Utility Player/Agitator/ Tyson Jost Ryan O’Reilly
5. All star offensive d-man Cale Makar Torey Krug
6. Top shutdown d-man Devon Toews Colton Parayko
7. All star goalie Darcy Kuemper Jordan Binnington
If the Colorado Avalanche aren’t going to make it out of the Western Conference, it will happen here. It shouldn’t, but this is where they might be vulnerable. Their profile is rock solid, healthy, and rested. However, the Blues have experience that they don’t. That is the only area of concern with the Avalanche. If the Blues steal one on the road and take it home with some momentum, this could be a long series. That said, if Darcy Kuemper returns to the crease, this should be a straightforward series. Jared Bednar has the best profile and seems to know how to use it. Craig Berube does as well but skill and speed is going to win over in this series.
Prediction: Avalanche in 5
Calgary Flames (2) vs Edmonton Oilers (5)
1. #1 all star center Elias Lindholm Connor McDavid
2. #2 all star center Mickael Backlund Leon Draisaitl
3. Top power forward Matthew Tkachuk Evander Kane
4. Specialist/Utility Player/Agitator/ Blake Coleman Zach Hyman
5. All star offensive d-man Rasmus Andersson Darnell Nurse
6. Top shutdown d-man Noah Hanifin Cody Ceci
7. All star goalie Jacob Markstrom Mike Smith
I think both teams profited from a favourable draw in round one and I think they have both done the same in round 2. Both were pushed to the limit by teams whose profiles were either aging or unproven or a combination of both. That said, the Oilers profile upfront is scary, and they delivered in round one. Think what you will of Evander Kane, but he was next level against the Kings. Kane versus Tkachuk should be interesting as should Markstrom versus Smith which is where I see Calgary’s real advantage. Darryl Sutter could be the difference against a rookie head coach in Jay Woodcroft. Having home ice might allow him to get Coleman’s line out against McDavid or Draisaitl. However, McDavid and Draisaitl just had great series going against Philip Danault and Anze Kopitar. Former Senators whipping boy, Cody Ceci, even emerged as a two-way shut down defencemen which strengthens their profile.
Prediction: Oilers in 6
The whole point of this exercise was to evaluate the legitimacy of the seven-player profile in predicting playoff success. So far, this passes the litmus test. If you look at the teams that bowed out in round one, Leafs, Bruins, Capitals, Penguins, Wild, Kings, Stars, and Predators, they either didn’t have a complete profile in place or, in the case of the Penguins, they had important pieces of their profile succumb to injury.
It's clear to me that teams spending to the cap without a clear seven-player profile are spending without a purpose and this should matter to the Senators as they decide how to spend or not spend moving forward.
By Pat Maguire | Sens Nation Hockey