By Gary Norris Gray, Staff Reporter
In the West it’s all about the Colorado Avalanche and the Calgary Flames. The high scoring Minnesota Wild and St. Louis Blues have scoring power and might have something to say in this year’s battle for the Cup. I would not want to be in net against either the Blues or Wild because both teams remind me of the old Edmonton Oilers fly guys who never played defense. The question will remain in the West can anybody stop the men in maroon, blue, and white, that Rocky Mountain High in Denver.
The New Edmonton Oilers should be arrested for robbery in the first degree as they took Goal Brother Evander Kane from the San Jose Sharks mid-season. Kane scored 22 goals and 17 assists in only half of a season and he has put defensive backbone on the Edmonton list this year.
Speaking of the San Jose Sharks it might be time to dismantle this team with the question in net and a lack luster offense. Defensemen Brent Burns, Marc-Edouard Vlasic (Pickles) and Erik Karlsson, Centers-Tomas Hertl and Logan Couture, with wingers Matt Nieto and Timo Meier are getting older and slower and might want to move on. It may be time to let the young ones take over center-Lane Pedeson and winger Sasha Chmelevski. When the Sharks let Goal Brother Kane go that was the signal the team would be going in a different direction in 2022.
We cannot forget the western version stealth bomber Los Angeles Kings with All Star netminder Johnathon Quick holding the fort and the Nashville Predators going on a tear late in the season.
The Avalanche have an explosive offensive three lines like most teams they have abandoned the grind line or enforcer line and opted for speed and scoring.
Goalie Darcy Kuemper will carry the Aves as far as he can in net with five shutouts this year, Colorado needs a number two goalie to rest Kuemper.
Mikko Rantanen and Nazem Kadri will be the scoring motor early in this series. Watch Artturi Lehkonen streaking down the left wing.
The question, will Colorado miss defensemen Ryan Murray who might miss the first round of the 2022 playoffs
Is this the year we see an All-Canadian Stanley Cup Final? Would love to see a Toronto Maple Leaf-Calgary Flame Final
With goalie Jacob Markstrom in net the Flames have a chance to advance with nine shutouts with the help of Goal Brother defensemen Oliver Klington
The big three will have to carry them in the playoff’s wingers Johnny Gaudreau, and Matthew Tkachuk, centers Elias Lindholm, and Trevor Lewis. Trevor Lewis has finally found a home in Canada after many years with the Los Angeles Kings.
Winger Milan Lucic comes west from the Boston Bruins and will put playoff experience on the ice for Calgary.
We don’t get to see this offensive juggernaut on the west coast but they have been making some noise in the Western Conference.
Congratulations to Nicolas Deslauriers after playing 506 games he finally lasses them up for the Stanley Cup playoffs
The Wild do not need a goalie this year with veterans Cam Talbot and Marc Andre Fleury in net. Talbot can now take a rest with Fleury backing him up. This could be the fearsome two headed monster that teams have to go through. If Fleury stays away from the Pittsburgh inconsistencies in net.
Goal Brothers Matt Dumba and J.T. Brown, the veterans will protect his netminder and Jordan Greenway from Canton New York will add firepower to the Wild rush. This is the Minnesota version of Evander Kane with his six-foot six frame
This will be the third time the Minnesota Wild play the St. Louis Blues in the first round.
SAINT LOUIS BLUES
The Blues have to go through the Minnesota Wild once again the western version of the Rangers and Penguins. These two teams do not like each other and being close geography is just fine.
The Blues have added veteran winger Brandon Saad from the Chicago Blackhawks via Colorado Avalanche and should give Blues advantage in playoffs
St. Louis has a strong power play unit and will have to use it against Minnesota’s strong defensive unit
Most NHL experts were picking the Oilers to win the west. They did not do that and had a midseason slip. The Oilers still won 49 games and came in second place in the Pacific Division. The Question will be for Edmonton to score against the All-Star Goalie Quick. Oilers goalie Mike Smith will have to outshine Quick and that’s a tall task in the first round.
Goal Brothers defensemen Darnell Nurse who scored nine goals this year with 26 assists and winger Evander Kane solidify the Oilers defense. Kane can relax now leaving the San Jose history behind him and can concentrate on hockey now.
Winger Kailer Yamamoto from Seattle Washington settled in with his Canadian team and scored 20 goals this year
Wingers Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl have to step up and be a pest around the net and pressure the defense into mistakes.
LOS ANGELES KINGS
The Black and Silver hockey team on ice are back after going through a five-year revamp period. The old guard winger Dustin Brown, center Anze Kopitar, and goalie Jonathan Quick are the holdovers of the Stanley Cup Champions. The new guys are still learning the ropes and are the new light for the Kings.
Winger Adrian Kempe has to pepper the net in order for the Kings to advance. We cannot forget the young gun winger Goal Brother Quenton Byfield at 19 years old hitting the ice to make a change for the Kings.
The question in Southern California will it be too little too late with Quick in Net anything is possible.
Ding Ding Dallas, Ding Ding Stars, this team ran hot and cold in the very completive Central Division winning 46 games this year and 96 points and fourth place. They won the last three of four in the regular season to get into the playoffs. Can they sustain this run against the Calgary Flames?
The Stars have to stay out of the sin bin-Penalty Box if they wish to advance. They lead the league with over 500 mins.
The Stars are missing goalie Ben Bishop and that could be the key to Dallas moving on to next round too many cooks(five) in the Kitchen(goal). Jake Oettinger will start in net for the Stars.
Winger Joe Pavelski moved to Dallas from the San Jose Sharks 27 goals and 54 assist watch the Jason Robertson, Roope Hintz, and Joe Pavelski line.
Veteran Ryan Suter will solidify the defense in Dallas but will it be enough to gain second round?
The Predators have been drifting backwards since the trade of B.K. Subban four years ago and now they have a chore to be giant killers beating the Colorado Avalanche in the first round.
Goalie David Rittich and Juuse Saros have to be brick walls in net or they will be golfing early this season. The Preds might be looking for another net minder next year. If Saros goes down, that is it for Nashville because Rittich did not move well in the first game of a 7-2 Colorado Avalanche rout.
Winger Filip Forsberg is the veteran leader but the offensive punch comes from defensemen Roman Jose, winger Matt Duchene, Centers Ryan Johansen and Colton Sissions
This is the best professional playoff system in the United States and Canada where anybody can raise the Cup no-matter what they have done in the regular season.
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 News Network Disabled Community Activist. Email at
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