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2017 Stanley Cup Playoff Predictions: Will the Capitals hoist the Cup in June?

2017 Stanley Cup Playoff Predictions: Will the Capitals hoist the Cup in June?

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. The Stanley Cup Playoffs start on Wednesday with five games before the Washington Capitals take to the ice on Thursday against the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Stanley Cup will be awarded in June, but there is still a lot of hockey left to play between now and then.

How will it all play out? Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir and Capitals correspondent J.J. Regan take a crack at some bold playoff predictions.

Tarik El-Bashir

Braden Holtby will claim the Conn Smythe

If this is indeed the Caps’ year, the team’s most important player will need to come up huge in net. And, after another stellar season, there’s no reason to believe Holtby will be anything but great when the pressure gets turned up a notch (or three). If Holtby is indeed named playoff MVP, he’ll be the first goalie to do so since Tim Thomas and Jonathan Quick won it back-to-back in 2011 and 2012.  

Carey Price will backstop the Habs to the Conference Final

After a regular season in which the goalie talk centered on Holtby, Sergei Bobrovsky, Devan Dubnyk (and even Cam Talbot), Price, the 2014-15 Vezina Trophy winner, is going to send a not-so-gentle reminder in the opening rounds. Why? He’s hot. Since Feb 25th—a span of 16 games—no goalie has won more games (12). He’s also got a .938 save percentage and 1.68 goals against average in that span.

T.J. Oshie will edge Alex Ovechkin as the Caps’ leading goal scorer in the postseason

Don’t get me wrong, Ovi will need to be productive for the Caps to hoist the Cup. But there was something about the way Oshie performed during the regular season (like scoring 33 goals in just 68 games) that leads me to believe he’s primed to come up huge in the playoffs. Last year, he finished with six goals in 12 postseason games. This year, he’ll finish in double digits.

J.J. Regan

Braden Holtby will fall out of the top spot for all-time playoff save percentage

As of right now, Holtby has the greatest save percentage in NHL playoff history. According to Hockey Reference, his .938 save percentage is the best ever. Those numbers will go down a bit this season, not because he will play badly, but because I believe Washington will have a deep playoff run. With more games, there will be an outlier there somewhere that will drop his average down. A .938 percentage is pretty darn tough to maintain.

Through the first three rounds, Connor McDavid will lead the NHL in points

This may be Edmonton’s first playoff appearance in the McDavid era, but the West is weak this year and the Oilers will go deeper as a result thanks to McDavid’s efforts. If he’s not already the best player in the NHL, he will be by next season.

Nate Schmidt will play by the second round at the latest

The trade for Kevin Shattenkirk relegated Schmidt to the role of seventh defenseman for the Caps, but when called upon he has played well. Whether there’s an injury or Barry Trotz needs a spark on the defense, Schmidt will make an appearance in the lineup at some point and it will come sooner rather than later.

Tarik El-Bashir’s bracket

First round

Washington over Toronto

Columbus over Pittsburgh

Montreal over Rangers

Ottawa over Boston

Chicago over Nashville

Minnesota over St. Louis

Anaheim over Calgary

Edmonton over San Jose

Second round

Washington over Columbus

Montreal over Ottawa

Chicago over Minnesota

Edmonton over Anaheim

Conference Final

Washington over Montreal

Chicago over Edmonton

Stanley Cup Final

Washington over Chicago

 

J.J. Regan’s bracket

First Round

Washington over Toronto

Pittsburgh over Columbus

Montreal over New York

Boston over Ottawa

Chicago over Nashville

St. Louis over Minnesota

Calgary over Anaheim

Edmonton over San Jose

Second Round

Washington over Pittsburgh

Montreal over Boston

Chicago over St. Louis

Edmonton over Calgary

Conference Final

Washington over Montreal

Chicago over Edmonton

Stanley Cup Final

Washington over Chicago

Related: Ranking the top 10 Capitals players of all time

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NHL Playoff 2019 Roundup: Blues shutout Sharks 5-0 to win Game 5

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NHL Playoff 2019 Roundup: Blues shutout Sharks 5-0 to win Game 5

The St. Louis Blues won a decisive Game 5 against the San Jose Sharks 5-0, pushing the Sharks to the brink of elimination.

The Blues are now one win away from their first Stanley Cup Final since the 1969-70 season, where they lost to the Boston Bruins in a sweep.

St. Louis started the scoring early when Oskar Sundqvist netted his second goal of the series in the first five minutes of the game. 

Jaden Schwartz then tallied his first goal of the game off a juicy rebound in front of Martin Jones to start the scoring in the second period. It was Schwartz's 10th goal of the playoffs, which tied him for third all-time in Blues history for goals in the postseason.

Vladimir Tarasenko added to the Blues lead off a penalty shot. He's the first player in Blues franchise history to score a penalty shot goal in the playoffs.

Schwartz then added two more goals in the third period for a hat-trick. The first came on a 5-on-3 power play advantage off a scramble in front of the net, and the second came from a backdoor one-timer pass from Tarasenko.

Schwartz now has 12 goals these playoffs, and it's his second hat-trick of the playoffs.

Blues goalie Jordan Binnington recorded 21 saves for a shutout, and he's the first rookie goalie to accomplish that feat for the Blues.

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NHL Playoff 2019 Roundup: Blues pull even with Sharks with 2-1 win

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NHL Playoff 2019 Roundup: Blues pull even with Sharks with 2-1 win

The St. Louis Blues' two-goal first period powered them to a win over the San Jose Sharks, and the series is now tied.

The Blues started with a goal 35 seconds into the game. Ivan Barbashev picked off a Brent Burns exit pass and flung it towards the net for the games opening goal. 

Barbashev is the second Blues player to score in the first minute of a game these playoffs. Jaden Schwartz is the other player.

Tyler Bozak scored the game-winning goal for the Blues on a power play off a scramble in front of the net.

The Sharks responded when Thomas Hertl poked the puck past the goal line after Jordan Binnington thought he had the puck covered. Hertl now has 10 goals this postseason for the Sharks, and the team now features 10 or more players to score 10+ goals in the playoffs for the second time in franchise history.

Binnington's 29 save performance gave him his 10th win of the playoffs, the most of any Blues goaltender in franchise history.

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