The Stanley Cup round of 16 starts Wednesday April 15th. The last round of the National Hockey League (NHL) was played the other night and this resulted in some interesting draws for the playoffs. Also, the teams in the World Championships in Czech Republic in May can start building their teams with reinforcements from the North American teams. Below are the match-ups for the round of 16:
Montreal Canadiens – Ottawa Senators
Tampa Bay Lightning – Detroit Red Wings
New York Rangers – Pittsburgh Penguins
Washington Capitals – New York Islanders
Comments: A lot of interesting meetings in the eastern conference. We are especially looking forward seing Ottawa Senators facing their Canadian Rivals from Montreal. Many people thought that Ottawa was away from the play-offs with 20 rounds to go in the series. However, the Sens did a strong finish and are now ready to play the round of 16. While Detroit is going down to sunny Florida to face Tampa, New York Rangers and Islanders are facing two teams known for their great offensive players. Sidney Crosby in the Pittsburg Penguins almost won the scoring league this year, but was passed by Dalla’s Jamie Benn in the final game (Benn scored a hat-trick and an assist against Nashville in the last game). Henrik Lundqvist in the Rangers goal will be kept busy by Crosby and his Russian partner Jevgenij Malkin. Jaroslav Halak in the Islanders goal will also have to work for his paycheck when he is faced against the assist-leader Nicklas Bäckström (60 assists) and leading goal-scorer Alexander Ovetjkin (53 goals) in the Washington Capitals.
St Louis Blues – Minnesota Wild
Nashville Predators – Chicago Blackhawks
Anaheim Ducks – Winnipeg Jets
Vancouver Canucks – Calgary Flames
Comments: Another three Canadian teams made the 2015 playoffs. Toronto and Edmonton missed it. It’s a great success for Canadian NHL-hockey who has been struggling for a long time. The last time a Canadian team won the cup was in 1993 when Montreal won against Los Angeles Kings. That was also the last time a winning team were composed by only North American players. Vancouver Canucks with the Swedish Sedin twins are facing Calgary Flames while Winnipeg Jets are up against the Anaheim Ducks. We are also keeping an eye on Chicaco Blackhawks who won the cup in 2010 and 2013. The 2014 winner Los Angeles Kings did not make it to the playoffs this year. They won the final series against New York Rangers last year.
The 2015 IIHF Men’s World Ice Hockey Championships
At the same time, the national teams are preparing for the 2015 Ice Hockey Championships in Czech Republic in May. While some of the NHL-teams made it to the playoffs, some didn’t. That means a number of players are available to play for their national teams in the tournament. Sweden’s Oscar Klefbom, playing for Edmonton, said yes a few days ago. We are also counting with Jaromir Jagr making an appearance at home. The 43 year eternal-machine just signed up for another NHL-season with Florida Panthers. Hopefully we will get to see some more NHL-players saying yes the this year’s World Championships!