Since the Senators won’t be participating in the playoffs this season, I can take emotion out of the equation and see if the seven-player profile can be used as an accurate predictor of playoff success.
Here is a look at each match up in the first round and I will let the seven-player profile decide who is going to win each one. I will do the same in subsequent rounds and we will see if this is a methodology the Senators should be following:
Florida Pathers (1) vs Washington Capitals (8)
1. #1 all star center Sasha Barkov Evgeny Kuznetsov
2. #2 all star center Sam Reinhart Nicklas Backstrom
3. Top power forward Jonathan Huberdeau Alexander Ovechkin
4. Specialist/Utility Player/Agitator/ Patric Hornqvist Tom Wilson
5. All star offensive d-man Aaron Ekblad John Carlson
6. Top shutdown d-man Ben Chiarot Dmitry Orlov
7. All star goalie Sergei Bobrovsky Ilya Samsonov
Based on this, the only chance I see for the Capitals is that Aaron Eckblad is going to miss some or all of this round. The Capitals profile is not bad and has more Stanley Cup rings but I really feel the intangible here is Hornqvist who, even at 35, is a royal pain to play against. His cup rings from Pittsburgh will come in handy as well. The acquisition of Chiarot will take the sting out of missing Eckblad and Brandon Montour’s offensive game stepped up in his absence.
Prediction: Panthers in 6
Carolina Hurricanes (2) vs Boston Bruins (7)
1. #1 all star center Sebastian Aho Patrice Bergeron
2. #2 all star center Vincent Trocheck Charlie Coyle
3. Top power forward Andrei Svechnikov Taylor Hall
4. Specialist/Utility Player/Agitator/ Jordan Staal Brad Marchand
5. All star offensive d-man Tony D’Angelo Charlie McAvoy
6. Top shutdown d-man Jacob Slavin Brandon Carlo
7. All star goalie Freddie Andersen ?
The Canes don’t have a true second all-star center but otherwise their profile is pretty solid. Conversely if you have a 36-year-old as your all-star #1 center then that does not bode well for your team. The Bruins haven’t even committed to their go to goalie saying both could play. The numbers for Ullmark and Swayman are so close it’s scary. Both had solid seasons but a team needs a number 1 goalie. Bad formula. Good enough to get there but not good enough to win.
Canes in 5
Toronto Maple Leafs (3) vs Tampa Bay Lightning (4)
Maple Leafs Lightning
1. #1 all star center Auston Matthews Steven Stamkos
2. #2 all star center John Tavares Brayden Point
3. Top power forward William Nylander Alexander Killorn
4. Specialist/Utility Player/Agitator/ David Kampf Corey Perry
5. All star offensive d-man Morgan Reilly Victor Hedman
6. Top shutdown d-man Mark Giordano Mikhail Sergachev
7. All star goalie Jack Campbell Andrei Vasilevskiy
You will notice that neither Mitch Marner nor Nikita Kucherov are mentioned in the respective profiles. Neither is a center and neither fits the description of a power forward. However, it’s likely that these two will ultimately make the biggest difference. Marner has never done it in the playoffs and Kucherov has. I suspect Cooper will match best on best when possible as his horses have more experience and when push comes to shove, his goalie is an all-star, and the Leafs goalie made the all-star game. There is a difference. The Leafs are poorly constructed. Their power forward has skills but doesn’t go to the traffic.
Lightning in 5
New York Rangers (5) vs Pittsburgh Penguins (6)
1. #1 all star center Mika Zibanejad Sidney Crosby
2. #2 all star center Ryan Strome Evgeni Malkin
3. Top power forward Chris Kreider Jeff Carter
4. Specialist/Utility Player/Agitator/ Ryan Reaves Brian Boyle
5. All star offensive d-man Adam Fox Kristopher Letang
6. Top shutdown d-man Jacob Trouba Brian Dumoulin
7. All star goalie Igor Shesterkin Tristan Jarry
As you look at the Rangers roster, it’s easy to see how Igor Shesterkin was the critical piece to getting them to dance. He is the only hope they have in this series. The Penguins profile is more experienced and proven. They are getting long in the tooth but I think they have another push in them. Jake Guentzel is not even mentioned in the profile despite being tied for the team lead in scoring. He is a playoff performer. Shesterkin might win a game or two but this is about experience for the Rangers and they are weak in the two hole.
Penguins in 5
Colorado Avalance (1) vs Nashville Predators (8)
1. #1 all star center Nathan Mackinnon Matt Duchene
2. #2 all star center Nazem Kadri Ryan Johansen
3. Top power forward Gabriel Landeskog Filip Forsberg
4. Specialist/Utility Player/Agitator/ Tyson Jost Tanner Jeannot
5. All star offensive d-man Cale Makar Roman Josi
6. Top shutdown d-man Devon Toews Matthias Ekholm
7. All star goalie Darcy Kuemper Juuse Saros
Based on the seven player profiles, this is an interesting match up. Both teams check all the boxes. However, when push comes to shove Mackinnon is a beast at playoff time and the Avalanche are equally as good at killing penalties as they are scoring goals. They have the depth and Matt Duchene’s season is out of character for him. As long as Nazem Kadri doesn’t sabotage his team’s efforts, this should be reasonably straightforward unless Juuse Saros can somehow steal the show.
Avalanche in 5
Calgary Flames (2) vs Dallas Stars (7)
1. #1 all star center Elias Lindholm Joe Pavelski
2. #2 all star center Mickael Backlund Roope Hintz
3. Top power forward Matthew Tkachuk Jamie Benn
4. Specialist/Utility Player/Agitator/ Blake Coleman Luke Glendening
5. All star offensive d-man Rasmus Andersson John Klingberg
6. Top shutdown d-man Noah Hanifin Miro Heiskanen
7. All star goalie Jacob Markstrom Jake Oettinger
This one is a tough call. You will notice that Johnny Gaudreau isn’t mentioned in the profile as he is neither a center nor a power forward or specialist. Straight up on the profiles, Dallas seems more complete to me. Calgary is weak in the two hole at center. Dallas is a little long in the tooth with Pavelski and Benn but they seem to still have game. I love Matthew Tkachuk but Calgary doesn’t have any notable playoff experience except for Blake Coleman.
Despite our desire to see Canadian glory, I smell an upset here. Flames aren’t deep down the middle.
Stars in 6
Minnesota Wild (3) vs St. Louis Blues (4)
1. #1 all star center Joel Eriksson Ek Robert Thomas
2. #2 all star center Frederick Gaudreau Ivan Barbashev
3. Top power forward Marcus Foligno David Perron
4. Specialist/Utility Player/Agitator/ Kevin Fiala Ryan O’Reilly
5. All star offensive d-man Jared Spurgeon Torey Krug
6. Top shutdown d-man Jonas Brodin Colton Parayko
7. All star goalie ? ?
The Minnesota Wild are not built based on the seven-player profile. Their success during the regular season seems to defy logic. Players like Kyrill Kaprizov and Kevin Fiala have had great seasons but Karprizov is neither a center nor a power forward. He would be the X factor if the Wild are going to have a chance. They pushed all-in on this one. St. Louis is really deep down the middle and I think that is going to be a problem for the Wild. Neither team has committed to a goalie yet. Both have two capable ones. I think St. Louis is going to make this one look easy.
Blues in 5
Edmonton Oilers (5) vs Los Angeles Kings (6)
1. #1 all star center Connor McDavid Anze Kopitar
2. #2 all star center Leon Draisaitl Adrian Kempe
3. Top power forward Milan Lucic Dustin Brown
4. Specialist/Utility Player/Agitator/ Zach Hyman Philip Danault
5. All star offensive d-man Tyson Barrie Drew Doughty
6. Top shutdown d-man Darnell Nurse Alexander Edler
7. All star goalie Mike Smith Jonathan Quick
The Kings were a surprise team this season. They are strong down the middle but not as strong as the Oilers. That said, Philip Danault has been a real hit in LA and I think he is the X factor here. I don’t like the Oilers goaltending. I know Mike Smith finished strong but I like Quick who actually got pushed for crease time by Cal Petersen. In the end, I think the Danault is going to play head up with one of McDavid or Draisaitl and Kopitar will get the other.
Kings in 6
I know having no Canadian teams in round 2 of the playoffs is a bit of a bummer. That said, the seven-player profile will either be debunked or validated. I don’t like how the Oilers and Leafs are put together and I think Calgary is the only hope to get out of round 1.
By Pat Maguire | Sens Nation Hockey