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Clubhouse Meeting: NHL Playoff Bracket Extravaganza!

The Turf Staff Writers have reunited again this year to make their hockey predictions and battle for honor in glory in an NHL bracket battle!

Stanley Cup by Kulveer Virk is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Clubhouse Meeting: NHL Playoff Bracket Extravaganza!

Estimated Reading Time: 8 Minutes

The time has come for the Turf writers to once again go head-to-head in an all-out bracket battle. It’s Stanley Cup playoff time! And honestly, after not one of us called the champion last year, we just have to get one right. This year, we’ve had our team fill out a bracket and answer three questions:

  1. Defend your Stanley Cup Champion.
  2. Who is your underdog?
  3. The Flyers are out of the race, so who should Gritty root for?

Enjoy our answer below and get excited for hockey coverage to come!

Joe Danbusky: Our Poor Resident Rangers Fan

  1. Champion – Tampa Bay.  Justification – historic season
  2. Favorite Underdog – Carolina – keep those victory celebrations coming!
  3. Gritty should mascot for Carolina just to open up a whole new world of possibilities with every victory

Ryan Kelly: Avid Hockey and Bruins Fan

  1. In all fairness, this is a hometown pick. So ride or die. But there is a lot to like about Boston’s chances in the playoffs this year. Unlike the last two postseasons, they are just about healthy across the board. And with the addition of Marcus Johansson and the late-season offensive surge from Jake Debrusk, second line center David Krecji now has some consistent playmakers on his wings. Secondary scoring was the team’s main pitfall in the 5-game smack down they received from Tampa in the second round last year, and I don’t see that being nearly as big of an issue this time around. Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo have truly come into their own this season anchoring the blue line, and oh yeah. They still have the best first line in hockey. This could be the year it all comes together for Bruce Cassidy and the Black and Gold.
  2. Of all the Wild Card teams, Columbus scares me the most if I am an opposing team. Hockey’s hottest team won 6 of their last 7 games to earn a playoff spot, outscoring opponents 30-6 in that stretch. And if the NHL playoffs have taught me anything, it’s that momentum can sometimes get the better of talent. But regardless of any of that, you better believe a John Tortorella-coached team will be ready to go. Their biggest question mark may lie with goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky. The two-time Vezina winner boasts a surprising 5-12 record in the playoffs, with a .898 SV% and a 3.37 GAA.
  3. I feel like he is an excellent fit with Carolina. Like the Hurricanes, Gritty came out of nowhere this season, and a lot of people are still not exactly sure how or why he has found any success at all. 

Katie Pierce: Queen of Musical Theatre Jokes and Baseball Fan

  1. As the overall 1 seed in the Western Conference it shouldn’t be a shock to expect them to head to the Stanley Cup finals. They are just as strong on the road as they are at home and they boast the second best goal differential in the league. Sure Tampa Bay is far ahead of everyone else but the last 13 years of playoffs have not exactly been kind to the President’s Cup winners. The only two teams since 2006 to hoist both Lord Stanley’s Cup and the President’s Trophy were the 2008 Red Wings and the 2013 Blackhawks. The Washington Posts playoff probabilities put the Flames on top with a 23% chance to win it all. Plus I just like listening to Barry Melrose say Calgary and I would like that to continue for as long as possible this post-season.
  2. As the overall 5 seed I don’t know if you could totally call St. Louis an underdog but Nashville has turned into quite the hockey city and definitely can use that environment to their advantage. But the Blues come into the post-season riding an 8-1-1 finish to their season so they certainly have the benefit of riding the momentum wave so to speak.
  3. The Las Vegas Golden Knights boast the leagues most elaborate on-ice pre-game show so it only makes sense that they should ask Gritty to mascot for them this post-season. There’s nothing subtle about them or him. Plus who wouldn’t want to see Gritty wield a giant sword in a medieval style duel?!!!

Kevin Morin: He says mean things about the Penguins so he doesn’t get anything truly clever…

  1. Am I being a homer here? Yes. Do I legitimately think the Bruins have a chance? Yes. They had an unreal run through the beginning of 2019. They’ve fallen off a bit since then, but seem to be steadying themselves. Couple that with getting some key players like Torey Krug back on the ice, and I think they can fight their way out of a very tough Eastern Conference to win it all.
  2. Colorado. When they’re on, they’re fun to watch.
  3. Gritty should cease to exist. Therefore he should defect across Pennsylvania and take the Penguins down with him.

(Writer’s Note: Keep Gritty away from my team, Morin!)

Tyler Williams: NFL Correspondent doing some Crossover!

  1. The Predators deserve a Stanley cup championship. They have been on the cusp for a while and now is their year to cash in. they really pulled together after a tough season. In their final 6 games they went 5-1 to claim first in the Central Division. With any tournament style of play I look for the team who has been tested the most and has overcome adversity before entering the tournament. The Predators have surely been tested and have rose to the occasion. Injuries have challenged them and now the Predators feel like they are in a spot to take advantage of their opportunity.
  2. My favorite underdog would have to be the New York Islanders who have been a surprise team this year. And they deserve all of the success because… BOO JOHN TAVARES YOU LIAR!
  3. Gritty should root for Washington Capitals because thanks for Harper, Washington!

Andrew O’Neill: The New Hampshire Boy Rooting for Florida

  1. If we learned one thing from the NHL regular season, it’s this: the road to the Stanley Cup goes through Tampa Bay.  The best team all season will have to lose games on home ice to be eliminated, and if it comes down to picking the Lightning v. the field, I’ll take the Lightning.
  2. My favorite underdog is the St. Louis Blues.  The West is more open than the East, which makes it harder to call any of the teams an underdog, but it would be surprising to see the Blues march all the way to the Finals.
  3. Gritty can jump on the Flames bandwagon and fit right in.

Sarah Jane Schostack: Your Resident Hockey Guru

  1. I don’t see Tampa Bay winning. I think they are going to run out of gas right at the jump. I also think Calgary is feisty and the nation of Canada is hungry to bring the cup back north. Calgary has been easily waltzing through almost everyone in the West with a few exceptions. I think this is Johnny Hockey’s year.
  2. As much as it pains me, I think the Islanders are my pick, meaning they’ll knock out my beloved Pens. But Trotz has a chip on his shoulder and something to prove after his unceremonious departure from Washington and I see this being an extra fire for them. They will get far, the question is just how far.
  3. I hate Gritty. I hate the Capitals. Great-match made in heaven.

Last but not least… Andrew Mark Wilhelm: King of Concise Reasoning

  1. Nikita Kucherov. Andrei Vasilevskiy. Steven Stamkos. ‘Nuff said.
  2. Dallas Stars all because of Ben Bishop. Great goaltending goes a long way in the playoffs and Bishop is one of the best.
  3. Gritty is the worst. I actually think the Flyers didn’t make the playoffs as karmic punishment for Gritty.  But if I have to pick one it would be the Penguins, because they are also the worst.

There you have it, folks! Stay tuned for more playoff coverage. With love and hockey, The Turf.

Sarah Jane, Sarah, or SJ-depending on the source-is a director, educator, theatre artist and now, sports blogger. She lives in Queens with her darling, not-so-sports-fan boyfriend. She played ice hockey growing up for the NJ Quarry Cats and various other teams. Being team captain her last two seasons is the most important achievement of her life to date. She proudly also was about a quarter of the size of her opponents and often led her team in both penalty minutes and enthusiasm. She's a Pittsburgh Penguins and Steelers fan (thanks, Momma!) and a New York Yankees fan (thanks, Poppa?) and was given zero choice on all three of these teams. Other hobbies include reading non-fiction books, cooking, and being spunky. Check in with her for all your greater hockey needs!

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