The greatest playoffs in sports are back! Ryan O'Leary of Bleacher Report and The Hockey News' Ryan Kennedy preview each of first round series and breakdown which teams are poised to compete in the Stanley Cup Final. Send your questions and predictions as well!
Ryan O'Leary:Bobby Ryan and Ryan O'Reilly couldn't be here, so it's just us two Ryans
Ryan O'Leary:okay...Boston, Pittsburgh, Montreal and the Rangers
Ryan O'Leary:he's an Olympic goalie ya know?
Tom Lorenzo:Favorite first round matchup?
Ryan O'Leary:oh and in your avatar, you look like Alexander Radulov...just had to mention that
Ryan O'Leary:the Little Ball of Hate with something smart to say? wow
Ryan O'Leary:(that'll be the last time you hear Leino + playoffs in the same sentence by the way)
Ryan O'Leary:there's a guy who screwed up his playoff opportunity
Ryan O'Leary:Tuukka Rask is the Vezina winner and Boston pummels people this time of year
Ryan O'Leary:I said it before, Detroit is fast, and Boston struggled with that up until about 5 minutes left in their first round series last year against Toronto
Ryan Kennedy:Pittsburgh. If the Pens don't do it this year (or come real close), then you need to do something drastic. Blues would rank second - no excuses anymore. But on the other hand, losing to Chicago is no embarassment
Ryan O'Leary:by the way, you never responded to my Radulov comment...haha
Ryan O'Leary:well that's because the Rangers remembered how to score a goal and the Blue Jackets became world beaters
Ryan O'Leary:sorry, chance
Ryan O'Leary:I said your avatar makes you look like Radulov
Ryan O'Leary:and you know what they do?
Ryan Kennedy:No doubt, thanks for having me. Ryan out!
Dave Benson:Who's the most overrated player in the playoffs? Is it Howie??
Ryan Kennedy:Very true. Earlier in the season it looked like the Metropolitan was gonna get hammered by the new format, but in the end they pulled it together
Ryan O'Leary:you know you're not doing anything the rest of the night anyway
Ryan O'Leary:that Backes-Oshie-Steen line must be a friggin nightmare for d-pairs
Ryan O'Leary:because no longer can you be rewarded for being in a garbage division and beating up on the Oilers or Panthers and get to the Playoffs
Ryan Kennedy:The first round can get pretty chaotic.
Ryan Kennedy:They'll riot in Montreal, but they do that anyway...
Ryan O'Leary:Favorite first round matchup?
Ryan O'Leary:I agree with that...but if you're Shero...I have no idea how you would let 71 leave town
Michael Hauptman:Haha thanks Ryan!
Ryan O'Leary:so we talked about the Sharks needing to take care of business or "get off the pot"
Ryan O'Leary:not a fan of being compared to a turncoat?
Ryan O'Leary:he was in Vezina discussion...and I don't know if Tampa is the same team if he misses significant time
Ryan O'Leary:haha...fair point on Rask, I'm just saying that Babcock is an excellent coach and he'll have BIG pieces back
Ryan O'Leary:despite the stroke...can't believe I just typed that...you know GMs salivate when they see 58 skate with the puck and quarterback the PP
Ryan O'Leary:okay we'll do predictions in a second...but first, which injuries will have the biggest effect on the playoffs?
Ryan O'Leary:and that's what makes these the best playoffs, in all sports, worldwide
Ryan O'Leary:yeah, I like to call in the Canucks/Capitals rule
Ryan O'Leary:well...just to spite you...I'm going with Anaheim...I like what they've done for two seasons now and quite frankly I'm afraid of Ryan Getlzaf and his prematurely balding head and 6'4" frame
Ryan O'Leary:no doubt...you can book it
Ryan O'Leary:is Rocket Richard still available?
Ryan Kennedy:Boston, Pittsburgh, Philly, Montreal, Anaheim, Colorado, St. Louis and San Jose
Ryan O'Leary:obviously the Blues are completely diminished, but if we're talking about a singular injury...it's Ben Bishop
Michael Hauptman:Obviously not gonna happen this year.. But get a goalie and maybe we are back in contention next year when healthy
Ryan Kennedy:Probably LA and San Jose, though Philly and the Rangers would be pretty close - Philly tends to have that effect on opponents.
Ryan O'Leary:true...but Perry is a Gordie Howe hat trick threat every night
Ryan O'Leary:okay...only one can win it? is the Cup headed back to the beach?
Ryan Kennedy:Management, really. I don't know if being Canadian had anything to do with it, but most of these teams were in turmoil, whether they meant to be rebuilding or not
Ryan O'Leary:how can you say that?
Ryan O'Leary:yeah...Corey Perry is one of the most underrated and unappreciated hockey player on the planet
Ryan O'Leary:I can't bet against my boy Jonathan Quick who is also from Connecticut
Ryan O'Leary:here's a good one:
Ryan O'Leary:no love for Boston and Detroit...two original six?
Ryan Kennedy:Yeah, plus one final. As my colleague Matt Larkin blogged the other day, maybe you trade Malkin if things go sideways again. Because you're not gonna get a ton for Fleury
Ryan Kennedy:I was interviewing Chris Pronger the other day and he pointed out that Philly, Boston, the Rangers - team like that all have pressure on them. I guess management can be more swayed by fans and the media, though really, they shouldn't be.
Ryan O'Leary:Tom...I think PHI and NYR is going to be intriguing
Ryan Kennedy:Worst part is, the winner has to go through Anaheim just to get out of the division!
Ryan Kennedy:I'm gonna go with Nick Bonino. There's a guy thriving on a team that brought him along the right way.
Ryan O'Leary:Colorado, Anaheim, Chicago and LA Kings
Ryan O'Leary:back to the West...why do they own the East right now?
Ryan Kennedy:Steve Mason vs. Henrik Lundqvist will be key, since 'The King' has usually been the second-best goalie in most NHL playoff series he's been in
Ryan O'Leary:Welcome everyone to the Tawkers 2014 NHL Playoff Preview, I'm very happy to be joined by Ryan Kennedy of the The Hockey News
Ryan Kennedy:I missed that one, what was it?
Ryan O'Leary:on that note...thanks everyone for joining us and enjoy the greatest playoffs in the sporting world!!
Ryan O'Leary:I looked it up today, the West was 246-150-52 against the East this year
Ryan Kennedy:True, but that health issue would really put a damper on trade talks.
Ryan O'Leary:Montreal, St. Louis or Pittsburgh
Ryan O'Leary:and the Rangers don't take a lot of crap...there's still some Tortorella left in them
Ryan Kennedy:Yeah, but my cap hit is awful
Ryan O'Leary:for sure...RK is the first line talent and I'm bringing the fourth line effort tonight
Ryan O'Leary:a friend of mine brought this up the other day and I agree (although that's my childhood team)
Ryan O'Leary:speaking of which, Ryan you're Canadian....
Ryan O'Leary:besides that incredible flow and his ability to put anyone on his hip and get to the front of the ent
Ryan O'Leary:I like Gustav Nyquist...not sure if it's technically a breakout, but we've seen him capable of big things
Ryan O'Leary:at some point...you have to get a Cup...and more importantly actually win the West, which they've never done!
Ryan O'Leary:I look at Letang as the trade bait
Ryan O'Leary:now, time to do it in the playoffs and take the pressure off his older and injured teammates
Ryan O'Leary:Who's the most overrated player in the playoffs? Is it Howie??
Ryan O'Leary:which matchup (potential matchup?) has the most bad blood?
Ryan O'Leary:typo: net
Ryan O'Leary:now he'll end up in the top five in scoring in the league...and he plays with a lot of fire...just ask Sidney Crosby
Ryan O'Leary:that's embarrassing really...
Ryan Kennedy:Someone who plays for the Cup winner will bring it to you - tons of Canadians on those teams anyway
Ryan Kennedy:Indeed. The only bummer about the LA matchup is if San Jose loses, you kinda forgive them again. But with Couture, Pavelski, Burns, Hertl, Niemi, Vlasic and Boyle? Gotta make some noise
Ryan Kennedy:Ryan McDonagh would be the biggie for me. If he can't log huge minutes, the Rangers are toast. And I assume Philly will target that shoulder
Ryan O'Leary:oh no...join us for our preview in 2021
Ryan O'Leary:okay....predictions...Ryan give me rapid fire of the first round...who moves on?
Ryan Kennedy:No, I'll stick with Boston. Like I said before, they'll be fresher by the end
Ryan O'Leary:well if it's on potential...it's Philly and Pittsburgh
Ryan O'Leary:Philly is a nasty team with the likes of Hartnell, Coutourier and others...and they just want to beat the crap out of people in general
Ryan O'Leary:and that was typo number four for me...that's at least a match penalty
Ryan O'Leary:but in the first round, I think the Sharks are over the Kings knocking them out every year and becoming California's team
Ryan O'Leary:who gave you my script
Ryan Kennedy:I do. If anything, it kept things interesting down the stretch, that's for sure.
Ryan Kennedy:I actually asked Marchand about that very thing last week - they're well aware of matching intensity
Ryan O'Leary:Boston was sleep walking the entire season and Detroit had to make sure it kept its postseason playoff streak alive
Ryan O'Leary:another strike about some political issue?
Ryan Kennedy:I'm gonna go with Los Angeles and San Jose. Hawks and Blues great too, but a lot of injuries there. The LA/SJ tilt will be just murderous
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Ryan O'Leary:but I'll give you three other teams, you tell me who needs to bring the cup home more
Tom Lorenzo:What about the Rangers-Flyers series? I assume it will get the attention based on market, but any chance we'll get a good series there?
Ryan Kennedy:Ha ha! I WISH I could be in a Russian rap video
Ryan O'Leary:look forward to a few months from now when we talk prospects and the 2014 Draft...you're sweet spot
Ryan Kennedy:Big centers. The West has nearly all of them - Getzlaf, Thornton, Kopitar, Backes, Toews (not quite as big but still a devastating talent).
Ryan Kennedy:Sid's the franchise either way. Ask him who he wants on his wing and trade Malkin for that guy
Ryan Kennedy:I just realized about two hours ago that Vinny Lecavalier and Marty St-Louis are gonna face each other in a playoff series and that's awesome.
Ryan O'Leary:well at least the Ryans are in unison...which is how we started off this whole thing
Ryan Kennedy:Only one of them is winning the Vezina this year
Ryan O'Leary:what is going on up North? Why just one team in the playoffs?
Ryan O'Leary:you might as well leave with him
Ryan O'Leary:it's not the same team we saw all seasn
Ryan Kennedy:Boston in the East and I'll say Anaheim in the West. St. Louis too banged up already to pick right now
Ryan O'Leary:alright then...who comes out of the east and the west?
Michael Hauptman:We want the cup!!
Ryan O'Leary:and what do you have to say for the folks of Northern Manitoba?
Ryan Kennedy:Yeah, but that can also backfire if roles are muddled. Boston knows what they have to do. And who would you rather have in net, Rask or Howard?
Ryan Kennedy:For some reason I just think Boston is gonna roll there. Even though Detroit was great head-to-head, this seems like a very smart Bruins team. They're not going to be surprised by an underdog
Ryan O'Leary:you really can't match it...anywhere
Ryan O'Leary:Michael...who is "we" so we can talk about it
Ryan Kennedy:Exactly, And most of those guys have a great winger - Perry, Kane, Burns/Hertl, Oshie...
Ryan O'Leary:What about the Rangers-Flyers series? I assume it will get the attention based on market, but any chance we'll get a good series there?
Ryan O'Leary:that's a good question Ryan...who is a super overrated playoff player?
Ryan Kennedy:Happy to he here, fellow Ryan
Ryan O'Leary:I wonder what the good people in places like Northern Manitoba think of people from Orange County being able to welcome the Stanley Cup
Ryan O'Leary:Ryan, this has been fun, I could go on for hours, but I think the folks need to get to Mad Men...
Ryan Kennedy:And the Maple Leafs imploded
Ryan O'Leary:they play in all three zones, play the body and their physical in front of opponents nets
Ryan O'Leary:you're more on the inside of scouts and GMs than I am, but don't most people think he might actually be a better talent than Crosby? I've heard that from tons of people...the only difference is Sidney's drive
Ryan O'Leary:Malkin, Crosby and Fleury only have one Cup
Ryan O'Leary:that's a great point...both guys with Cups already and a lot of experience...I like that a lot
Ryan Kennedy:Fair enough.
Ryan O'Leary:that can't go over very big? can it?
Ryan O'Leary:I'm sensing chalk?
Ryan O'Leary:Oh, don't get mean about Howie
Ryan O'Leary:yeah Lundqvist is the difference...although I think this is Claude Giroux's big change
Ryan Kennedy:I definitely like how Giroux has responded to adversity. That's a team with a lot of character. You mentioned Hartnell and Couturier - I'd add Simmonds and Read as well. Lots of fight in the Flyers. Having said that, the Rangers go pretty deep.
Ryan Kennedy:Well, it will be interesting to see what Rick Nash does. I wouldn't necessarily call him overrated yet, because he hasn't has much of a shot, but I would expect a lot from him
Ryan O'Leary:We want the cup!!
Ryan O'Leary:and if they don't...Todd McLellan can put in a big order for moving boxes
Ryan O'Leary:or I guess the Canadiens are political
Ryan O'Leary:you know...my patience is wearing thin for Marleau and Jumbo Joe
Dave Benson:What's the worst prediction you guys have heard so far?
Ryan O'Leary:Sadly..I'm an islanders fan
Ryan O'Leary:but I always feel that's a byproduct of the immense pressure on those 7 clubs...is that fair?
Ryan O'Leary:love that SJ got Hertl back, that'll help for sure
Ryan O'Leary:it's old school hockey and it's really effective
Ryan O'Leary:first puck drops in Tampa on Wednesday at 7p and we have a ton of great first round matchups...so I'll let you grab this first question
Ryan O'Leary:too bad we don't get as much fighting in the playoffs
Ryan O'Leary:but you're right, I don't think Bylsma needs to worry about anything...but the players might in Pittsburgh...and Boston is going to be extremely difficult to get past this season
Dave Benson:which matchup (potential matchup?) has the most bad blood?
Ryan O'Leary:yeah...if NY, you basically reconfigured your team around this guy and he makes a lot of scratch every year...time for him to create a legacy for himself
Ryan O'Leary:yeah...the battle of California will be amazing, both teams are healthy and playing good hockey down the stretch
Ryan Kennedy:The dynamic of that Detroit team will be interesting once Datsyuk comes back. Nyquist has been so good without him - how does it affect the team's mindset? That's what I meant earlier about the Wings getting muddled.
Ryan O'Leary:and if you haven't seen the no-look goal yet from him this weekend, you need to see it
Ryan O'Leary:Detroit has Datsyuk back...could get Zetta back and they have young players with a ton of experience
Ryan O'Leary:let me ask you first Ryan, do you think realignment and the new playoff structure worked in 2014?
Ryan O'Leary:he was snubbed for Team Canada, started slow and thrown on the scrap heap in a lot of ways
Ryan O'Leary:and besides being America's greatest hero, TJ Oshie first made his name by thumping guys every night
Ryan Kennedy:For their sake, I hope they don't subconsiously assume Datsyuk will carry them
Ryan O'Leary:for me, it's Pittsburgh
Michael Hauptman:Sadly..I'm an islanders fan
Ryan O'Leary:don't we all...and the hype video put out by the Russian Ice Hockey Federation where he's singing with Malkin, Ovechkin and Kovalchuk
Ryan O'Leary:who's your breakout star Ryan? Who's gonna get Ville Leino dollars for putting up an unexpected performance?
Ryan O'Leary:Toews and Kane have two
Ryan Kennedy:We are legion