Now that the inaugural Play-ins are completed we know the matchups for the playoff series that will begin Tuesday, August 11th in Edmonton and Toronto. Some pretty large upsets saw both conferences 12th seed make it past the 5th seeds and continue.
It will be interesting to see if the teams from the round-robin, Vegas, Colorado, Dallas and St. Louis can match the intensity or pace in game one of the other teams that have played to advance.
Vegas Golden Knights (1st seed) vs. Chicago Blackhawks (8th)
Vegas won all three games in the round-robin and scored in bunches (15 goals), without Max Pacioretty who was unfit to play, but will be ready for game one against Chicago. Mark Stone led the Golden Knights with five points and Alex Tuch had three goals to both lead the team in those categories. Shea Theodore led the defense in scoring with four points, closely followed by Nate Schmidt with three. Robin Lehner started two of the three games while Marc-Andre Fleury started one but struggled. I would still start Fleury, as he can shine in the playoffs. Vegas might not score five goals per game, but Chicago has a suspect defense, so they should still put up some points.
Chicago was matched against an inept defensive team in Edmonton and won't nearly have space or chances they had in that series. If they can draw penalties, they are still a danger as their power play even though it struggled during the regular season, can and still should be potent with Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, emerging rookies Kirby Dach and Dominik Kubalik and Duncan Keith. Corey Crawford is not what he used to be and will struggle to win this series all on his own.
Chicago might catch Vegas in the first few games, but Vegas should be too good in a seven-game series.
Vegas in six