Expect an East Coast champion


Levi Erkkila

Editor’s note: The ideas expressed are the author’s perspective and do not reflect the views of The North Wind.

The NHL playoffs started Wednesday, April 11, and evidence shows certain teams have a better chance of advancing traditional high-powered markets.

In the west, the Los Angeles Kings earned the first wild card in the Western Conference and are heavy underdogs against the winner of the Pacific Division champion Las Vegas Golden Knights. The Kings have plenty of experience that will overcome the speed on the Golden Knights. Multiple players in LA have performed extremely well in the biggest games, including Stanley Cup victories in 2012 and ‘14. Jeff Carter and Drew Doughty have produced on the biggest stage and Jonathan Quick is one of the most clutch goalies in recent playoff series. The Kings will win the series, upsetting an inexperienced Las Vegas team in their first season in the NHL.

The Western Conference forecast continues with the Nashville Predators handling the Colorado Avalanche with ease.

The Winnipeg Jets are going to sweep the Minnesota Wild. The Wild are missing their best player, defenseman Ryan Suter, which leaves a lot of holes in the Minnesota defense.

The Pacific Division rivalry between the Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks will be a hard-hitting series with the Ducks coming out on top.

In the east, the Toronto Maple Leafs take on the Boston Bruins in an original six matchup. The Bruins defense will bend to the fast, young Leafs due in large part to Leafs head coach Mike Babcock. Babcock has found success everywhere he has been. His resume consists of three Stanley Cup Finals appearances, with one championship win in 2008 while with Detroit. Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy has just one series of previous playoff experience. The Leafs’ coaching advantage will be enough to knock out Boston.

To wrap up the Eastern Conference predictions, the Tampa Bay Lightning will move past the New Jersey Devils and the Pittsburgh Penguins will continue their playoff success against the Philadelphia Flyers in the battle of Pennsylvania. The Washington Capitals will beat the Columbus Blue Jackets in a close, hard-fought series.

Tampa Bay has too much firepower to be stopped. The high scoring Lightning offense is not the only reason they will win the cup. Victor Hedman and Ryan McDonagh are two of the best defenseman in the league and when they are on the ice, teams will struggle to score. Tampa Bay is going to defeat the Anaheim Ducks to win the 2018 Stanley Cup Championship.