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Welcome to this special edition of "Number One Says," where I review the first round of this year's Stanley Cup Playoffs! Here we go:
Panthers vs Islanders: I loved this series, because it was loaded with overtime. Games Five and Six both needed two extra periods, with the Isles winning both games. I had a feeling that the Islanders would win this one, because despite finishing first in the division, the Panthers didn't have much playoff experience. Other than Jagr, who has won the Cup, and Luongo, who was in the Final in 2011, the team was mostly full of playoff novices.
Lightning vs Red Wings: This series was a far cry from their meeting from last year. Last year's series was close and went the max. This year, not so much. While the Wings did keep their playoff streak alive, they are definitely NOT the team who constantly made the Final Four on a yearly basis, and it showed in their five game exit.
Capitals vs Flyers: Even with the Caps up 3-0, I had a feeling that the Flyers would still make it a series, and they did with their victories in Games Four and Five. After Game Five, though, I was prepared for yet another Capitals choke job, but they came through and blanked the Flyers in Game Six to advance. Great series despite no OT.
Penguins vs Rangers: I'm still shocked at how badly the Rangers played in this series, especially in Game Five. Here is a team who reached the East Final in back-to-back years, with the first year seeing them in the Stanley Cup Final, and yet they just flat out didn't have it in this series. The Pens completely owned them. Now it's a question of, "What's next?," for the Rangers.
Stars vs Wild: The Stars really took over this series from the get-go, even with the Wild's attempt at staying in it with an OT win in Game Five and a flurry in the third period of Game Six. Honestly, this series could have went either way, but I figured Minnesota would advance due to their performances in the last two years. However, the Wild just didn't have enough against Dallas
Blues vs Blackhawks: Clearly the best of the four West series, and it ended with the Champs eliminated in seven games. It's really hard to decipher who really was the better team; both the Blues and Hawks played evenly. St. Louis just did one more thing right than Chicago, and that's why they advanced.
Ducks vs Predators: What can I say about the Ducks that I haven't already said in past posts and on social media? The Ducks always have good regular seasons, but when it comes to playoff time, they have a knack for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. For the fourth year in a row, the Ducks lost Game Seven at home to the Nashville Predators, and their latest choke job got Bruce Boudreau fired today.
Kings vs Sharks: Another enigma. Here's a startling stat I read yesterday. In the entire series, the Sharks didn't lead for only 4:02. The Kings' lone win in the series came in OT. I don't know what is wrong with the Kings lately. They won the Cup in 2014, but they missed the playoffs entirely in the next year, and now this first round collapse. That series entirely belonged to the Sharks, from beginning to end.
That is a look back at the Division Semifinals. The Division Finals began on Wednesday, oddly before the last first round series ended. So with that, here's the question: Which division has the most intriguing series?