No intro necessary! By now I'm sure you already know what this series is all about! In this third installment of the Playoff Primer series, I bring you all the info on our four Scotia North division playoff teams: Edmonton, Winnipeg, Montreal and Toronto!
Potentially the deepest Edmonton team in recent NHL history, the Oilers are finally getting the secondary scoring they need from guys like Kailer Yamamoto, Jesse Puljujarvi and Dominik Kahun. Darnell Nurse and Tyson Barrie have been PHENOMENAL on the back end, and Mike Smith has dazzled with a .923 SV% between the pipes. But let's be real here... the Edmonton Oilers with only go as far (into the playoffs) as McDavid and Draisaitl can carry them. Can Connor McDavid CARRY his team to their first Stanley Cup in 31 years?! It is definitely within the realm of possibility. I mean... THE MAN IS FROM ANOTHER PLANET!!! 104 points in 55 games?! 5.1 points per 60 minutes?! I guess that's why he's called McSaviour 😎
The Winnipeg Jets are not going to do any damage this post-season and here's why: Despite having an extremely talented Top Six Forward group and boasting a Top 3 NHL goaltender in Connor Hellebuyck, the Jets defence is literally Swiss cheese. The majority of the time, Winnipeg defenders just let guys waltz into the zone and create scoring chances. McDavid will absolutely feast on these guys- mark my words.
The Montreal Canadiens are another team that most likely won't go anywhere in the playoffs. I hate to say it, but the way they play is very one-dimensional. While the Habs have a decent transition game, they really struggle with developing high-danger scoring opportunities from within the zone. Their inability to create chances off the cycle has resulted in a significant difference between Montreal's scoring rate and those of the other playoff teams. The Canadiens wouldn't be as stressed about this lack of offence if they were an elite defensive team, but they're not! Every time I watch them play it is turnover after turnover! I don't want to come down too hard on them because I really like Gallagher and Caufield, but there is no sugarcoating it: Montreal cannot compete with Toronto in a playoff series. They'll either get swept or fall in 5 games. I'd love to see them prove me wrong!
Toronto Maple Leafs
Auston Matthews. Mitch Marner. John Tavares. William Nylander. Is there any team in the NHL with a more star-studded offence than Toronto? "But the Leafs have always been a highly skilled team yet they never make it past the first round!" YEAH, THAT'S RIGHT LEAF HATERS! I SEE YOU! And to answer that lame attempt at a chirp I hear far too often... This year, Toronto looks like a completely different team. These Leafs play a tougher, much more physical brand of hockey than the Leafs of seasons past. This year, players like Brad Marchand would think twice before making a dirty hit because they'll know that doing so will result in a one-way ticket on the Wayne Train! Physicality is so important, especially in the playoffs. Now, Toronto has all the tools to play Conference Finals, maybe even Cup Finals hockey... let's see if they can perform 🔥!
I hope you enjoyed this article and that it provided you with some insights! Be sure to check back later today for information on the Central playoff teams- Carolina, Tampa, Florida and Nashville! You should also be receiving an invitation to join The Next Great Hockey Blog's first ever NHL Bracket Challenge! Will you be named our champion?!