Gary Norris Gray-BASN-Newsroom Staff Reporter

The National Hockey League walked into a sweet situation. Many hardened hockey fans were not happy with the playoff format and complained that no Canadian team would challenge for the Cup in 2016. Last year the NHL playoffs had something missing,. It was a team north of the border.

The possibility of Lord Stanley’s Cup returning north of the border greatly increased this year, with five Canadian teams playing in the first round. That no Canadian team will play each other in the first round also increased their chances to raise the Cup in the great white north.

The Pittsburgh Penguins will be gunning for their 2nd straight Cup and no team has repeated since the Mario Lemieux 1991-92 Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Edmonton Oilers return to the playoffs after ten years and that is a good thing for the sport because history follows the orange crush, the expansion team that could

Under the new playoff system, teams will play within their division unlike the old system of 1 through 8. This will be the fourth year under this system but I think it is time to return to the old 1-8 system. The reason that fans are unhappy is that if the Washington Capitols win and the Pittsburgh Penguins win. It would be number 1 vs. number 2 in the Eastern Conference in the second round. This is not acceptable and needs to be changed.

The experiment is over. It was fun to see the New York Rangers play the New York Islanders in the east and Chicago play St. Louis in the mid-west and last the San Jose Sharks play the Los Angeles Kings in the west but how many times do you want to see this?

Under the old system, the playoffs would look like this

Eastern Conference

  1. Washington vs. 8. Toronto
  2. Montreal vs. 7. Boston
  3. Pittsburgh vs. 6.Ottawa
  4. Columbus vs. 5. New York

Western Conference

  1. Chicago vs. 8. Nashville
  2. Anaheim vs. 7. Calgary
  3. Minnesota vs. 6. San Jose
  4. Edmonton vs. 5. St. Louis



The Montreal Canadiens vs. New York Rangers

If you are a goalie fan this is the series to watch with two veteran star goaltenders, Montreal’s Carey Price and New York’s Henrik  Lundqvist a.k.a. the self-proclaimed king. The King might get dethroned by the Canadiens, Lundqvist has not played well the last two months and the Rangers have not scored, that is a bad combination.  Ranger goalie Antti Raanta might be the one to save Rangers in the latter stages of this series.

Montreal’s Shea Weber and Andrei Markov could be the stone wall for the Rangers to penetrate the net, then the Blueshirts have to get past 6′ foot Carey Price standing in net to block Blueshirt goals.

The New York Rangers are leaning on Henrik Lundqvist to carry them to the Cup but his up and down season makes many wonder how far they can go with number 30.

The right side of the New York Ranger offense is loaded with Rick Nash and Mats Zuccarello who have to score early to relieve the Ranger defense. Marc Staal and Ryan McDonagh have to hold the fort in front of Lundqvist for Blueshirts to win.


The Ottawa Senators vs. Boston Bruins

My favorite goalie Mr. Craig Anderson of the Ottawa Senators will try to fend off the high power offense of the Boston Bruins. Backup goalie Mike Condon did not let the ceiling fall down when Anderson left the team for family matters. So Ottawa could use a two-headed monster in nets for the playoffs if needed.

Forwards Erik Karlsson and ex-New York Ranger Derick Brassard will carry the Sens as far as they can with their offensive power. Right winger Bobby Ryan is also a great sniper (shooter) in the middle. The Sens went through a horrid middle of the year and ended up near the bottom of the Eastern Conference. Then head coach Guy Boucher lit into them during a game and they motored into playoffs. This is a muck and grind team, they will have to be to beat the Boston Bruins.

The Boston Bruins are dealing with defensive injuries coming at the close of the regular season ex-Winnipeg Jet  Drew Stafford has put a spark in the Bruin offense but Boston will still look to David Krejci to score Bruin goals. The veteran defenseman Captain Zdeno Chara will play old school and bounce Senators off of the TD Gardens boards.


The Washington Capitals vs. Toronto Maple Leafs

The Washington Capitals won the President’s Trophy this year for most points in a season but it might not be the kiss of death for winning the Stanley Cup as the Caps have improved this year. The past eight years the winner of the trophy has made the finals only once. History will not repeat itself because the Capitals will be going to the finals since 1998. This is the best Washington team since 1998 and they have one of the best goaltenders in the league with Braden Holtby. Holtby has taken many days off this year so he has rested legs for the playoffs. This team will be difficult to beat with their balance.

Center Nicklas Backstrom and number 8 Alex Ovechkin will carry the Capitals offense and defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk will help Holtby around the net.

The Washington Capitals have to forget about the past and move on with this new and improved team.

The Toronto Maple Leafs have brought fresh air to the National Hockey League with young stars and probable rookie of the year, with 40 goals, center Auston Matthews . The Leafs lack playoff experience, with forward Leo Komarov being the only one who has played in the playoffs.

The centers will carry the men in blue with sniper Nazim Kadri, and the steady hand of Brian Boyle. This will be a learning experience for the young Leafs.


The Edmonton Oilers vs. San Jose Sharks

The San Jose Sharks are in deep water. Too many Sharks are injured going into these playoffs. Joe Thornton and Logan Couture could miss this series because of their injuries and San Jose needs both of them to out skate the young Oilers. The Shark led the Pacific Division early in the year before the mid-season collapse sending them out of the playoffs. The Sharks finally got it together in mid-January to make it back into the playoffs picture.

Goalie Martin Jones has been inconsistent in the nets and it has cost San Jose many games. Home ice does not mean what it did years ago in the South Bay. Teams are not afraid to come into the Tank. The second line of Marc Vlasic, Brent Burns, Goal Brother Joel Ward, and Patrick Marleau, Thomas Hertl have to step up for the Sharks first line. Center Joe Pavelski could change the men of teal season by scoring goals. Ward has stabilized the San Jose defense and can strike at the blue line with his wicked slap shoot. Wherever Ward has played the team wins in the playoffs. This could be his last chance at Lord Stanley’s Cup at 36 years old. Number 42 stats are 10 goals and 19 assist for 2017.

The Edmonton Oilers created the new energy in the western conference. This team may have built a team for the future with many young players. Goal Brother Darnell Nurse should keep the Oiler defense in line, with young gun center Connor McDavid and left winger veteran Milan Lucic should keep the Oilers in the playoffs on the offensive side. The Oilers finally got into the playoffs for the first time in seven years. The only question would be the man in net; goaltender Cam Talbot is an unknown, both nations will see him for the first time.

Nurse’s big body will protect Cam Talbot and can score if needed with 11 points the highest in three years.

This team is so talented but they just don’t get it done. They lack leadership on the ice. Joe Thronton should have been the enforcer but he has not shown up.

Sorry, Bay Area, but too many injuries to start this series…..


The Anaheim Ducks vs. Calgary Flames

Those freaking Ducks will not go away. You can’t kill them. Early in the season the Anaheim Ducks were in last place in the Pacific Division. General Manager Bob Murray found a new coach to fire the Ducks up in the middle of the season and it worked, the Anaheim Ducks won the Pacific Division the last month of the year. Goalie John Gibson has stabilized the Duck defense and has put confidence in the Anaheim defense.

The Ducks have retooled on the fly and kept moving; veterans Center Ryan Getzlaf and Patrick Eaves will carry this team with the new bloods. Ryan Kesler and Antoine Vermette are Anaheim snipers and should keep the offense rolling.

The Calgary Flames have made the province of Alberta remember the old days of the 80’s and 90’s with both Edmonton and Calgary in the playoffs at the same time AGAIN. The Flames are leaning on rookie Matthew Tkachuk and veteran Johnny Gaudreau to make the Flames dangerous on the left side. I love T.J. Brodie because he is my kind of defenseman, playing hard and feisty.


Gary Norris Gray – Writer, Author, Historian. Gibbs Magazine-Oakland, California and New England Informer- Boston Mass. THE GRAYLINE:- The Analects of A Black Disabled Man, The Gray Leopard Cove, Soul Tree Radio In The Raw, and The Batchelor Pad Network, Disabled Community Activist. Email at

©Copyrighted Gary Norris Gray @ Gray Leopard Prod


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