Monday Offseason Caterwaul: Florida Panthers and NHL Playoffs Open Forum

Minnesota Wild v St Louis Blues- Game Three

The best player in hockey, Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby, the best scorer in the game, Washington's Alex Ovechkin, and the new superstar on the block in the New York Islanders' Connor McDavid should provide plenty of fireworks and highlights for the remainder of the playoffs.

There seems to be a mentality surrounding the Capitals in the fact that they are playoff-oriented constantly.

They will face the Pittsburgh Penguins in the final and it will be a close match but the final will be in the Wild favor, 3-1. Washington has been around but is trying to make the Eastern Conference final for the first time in the Ovechkin era in perhaps its best chance at a title, while NY is aiming to get back to the Cup Final for the first time since losing to Los Angeles in 2014.

The Capitals are the top seed in the East and in the entire NHL Playoffs. The previous results have gone Crosby's way, and the Pens promise to be in the Caps' heads because of that.

Follow Brian Tinsman and 106.7 The Fan on Twitter. The Caps lost game two to Toronto, and there was a huge here-go-again type of reaction among Washington supporters. The Capitals, however, are looking for their first championship in franchise history. In January, if someone had promised you that Blues-versus-Wild was a first-round match-up and furthermore that it would be decided by the play of the goaltenders, you would have nodded knowingly and picked Minnesota. Montreal Canadiens vs. New York Rangers Game 5 produced a 20 percent increase from Detroit Red Wings vs. Tampa Bay Lightning Game 5 last season. Ottawa will host this series by virtue of a higher-placed divisional finish, but I don't think it redeems their chances.

With eight teams eliminated, only eight teams remain in the playoffs. Not surprisingly, Ottawa is the last favorite to win the Stanley Cup with Paddy Power.

For the fourth time in five games, the Washington Capitals and Toronto Maple Leafs went to overtime in Friday's Game 5.

On the other side of the draw, the Nashville Predators have to have St. Louis spooked out. The Preds totally exposed Corey Crawford as a non-elite goaltender now with a sweep of what was the top team in the west. It was in a locker-room stall conversation with Braden Holtby where he told me the team has been focused on the playoffs since the start of the season.

A sweep of the Blackhawks has the Predators healthy against the Blues, who just got Paul Stastny back from injury. The Wild qualified for the conference final in 2003, but the Predators have never gotten past the second round. The Oilers will face the Ducks in their second-round series.

Stanley Cup: In the Stanley Cup, the St. Louis Blues will defeat the Montreal Canadiens in six games, becoming the NHL's 2017 Stanley Cup Champions. That's interesting because bet365 is a huge sportsbook.

The victor of this series will have a Round 2 date with the Anaheim Ducks, who swept the Calgary Flames in the first round. That does give Anaheim the rest advantage additional to their advantage of experience.

Every year, when April rolls around and hockey fans of every kind come together to compete to predict the next team to hoist the Stanley Cup.

Arguably the Oilers survived a tilted series in the first round, one that featured a parade of powerplays for San Jose in the early goings. The Rangers have won the past two games by 2-1 and 3-2 (overtime) scorelines, and they are 11-10 ahead in overall scoring in this series. However, the Oilers do have enough depth to punish a team that sags defensively toward its star player.

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