Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Opening Night Preview in the Playoff Pool

The second season starts tonight in four cities and with pool entries slowly trickling in, we'll have some changing previews as we go along, but the patterns have already started to emerge.

Today is the deadline for all the entries and if you're looking to get in, head over to my website and follow the large 2015 Playoffs link and it will get you to the rules and the sheet will be readily available from there.

One of two 5pm MT games getting started on Tuesday night sees the Senators invade Montreal to take on the Canadiens.  Everyone should be fully expecting to see some theatrics on the ice before the game and then fireworks through the game.

The early returns in the pool entries, now 11 teams in, sees the Habs as a clear favourite, as they have 27 of a possible 33 selections, while the Sens have 8 of a possible 33 selections, so there is a great expectation that Montreal is going to go a long way, according to my poolies.

P.K. Subban leads all Canadiens in selections with five, while the Senators selections have been fairly limited to Bobby Ryan, Clarke MacArthur and Erik Karlsson, as they all have two selections each.

Of course, these favourites are expected to change with a few more entries, which I should be receiving tonight and entering over the next few days.

In the other 5pm MT start tonight, it's the series that I'm fairly excited about and I kind of wish a few more people were excited about as well, as John Tavares visits Alex Ovechkin in a battle of superstars, as the Islanders head to Washington to take on the Capitals.

Out of the selections from the 11 teams, this series is a lot closer to call, as the Capitals have a slight 18-12 advantage in the picks.  This is a series that will keep a pool team in the race or throw a pretty good speed bump in front of it, trying to get to the end.

It looks like pool teams are expecting the winner of this series to do well, as the big guns are being taken, as Tavares leads Ovechkin, 4-3, in selections, while Nicklas Backstrom has the overall lead in Washington selections with four as well.

The Central Division 2-3 match-up gets going tonight in Nashville, as the Chicago Blackhawks take on the Predators in the start of a pretty interesting series.  This game will be a 6:30pm start on Sportsnet 360 and has some real potential.

According to the pool entries, this series is poised for somewhat of an upset, as the Blackhawks, who are the 3-seed, are clobbering the 2-seed Predators, 29-5.  If the Predators were to cruise through this series, it was be fairly devastating to the better part of the pool.

As it was noted last night, Patrick Kane was one of the favourites overall and continues to be with another team added, as he was selected six times, while on the Nashville side and their five selections overall, Ryan Ellis has two of those picks.

In the only late game on Wednesday night, the lunch pail Calgary Flames will meet the old boys in Vancouver, as the Canucks look to defend their house against the up-and-comers.  This game has a puck drop of 8pm and it will be on CBC tonight, but you probably already know that.

The early returns on this series are also saying an upset, as the Pacific Division 3-seed from Calgary has a 21-10 selection over the 2-seed Canucks.  Everyone is pretty high on the up-tempo game of the Flames, so it will be interesting to see how the Canucks respond to their game in a playoff setting.

T.J. Brodie remains a favourite for the teams picking Flames, as he has five selections to his name, while the Canucks' favourite, so far, in the pool is defenseman Kevin Bieksa.  Usually when a defenseman is a favourite for a team, the consensus is that neither team is expected to go past the second round of the playoffs, which seems fair, given some of the talent in the other Pacific Division series.

Remember, e-mail me your picks before puck drop tonight... unless you're meeting me at Kilkenny's tonight, then fill out a sheet there and I will take it home with me to enter.

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