Take Town: There goes Tuukka Rask
A thing I’ve been thinking about the last couple of nights, as the NHL comes back from its All-Star break, is that there are like 10 teams in the league where I legitimately think, “You wouldn’t want to face those guys in the playoffs.”
With the Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs, Carolina Hurricanes, Colorado Avalanche and Vegas Golden Knights, the reason is obvious: They have killer rosters top to bottom, and the resumes kind of speak for themselves. But even with teams that have some obvious flaws, the New York Rangers or Washington Capitals or Boston Bruins or Pittsburgh Penguins, it’s like, “Well they have _______, so…”
Sure the Rangers’ possession game isn’t all that impressive, but take a penalty against them and that power play will make you pay, and they have the best goalie in the league this season in Igor Shestyorkin. Obvious roadblocks to advancing past them.
With Boston, Pittsburgh and Washington, you just don’t really want to count them out because they’ve done it so many times in the playoffs with these groups, how could you bet against them? Even the Nashville Predators (goaltending) or Calgary Flames (the best top line in hockey?) are teams I can’t imagine teams are too willing to get them in the postseason.
So that’s the entire Eastern Conference and maybe like half the Western Conference where it’s a big ol’ no-thanks on a first-round draw? I don’t know if we’ve seen this kind of parity — at least not in that way — for years, have we? Pretty cool. Too bad the playoffs don’t start for another three months!
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