Top 8: The NHL’s Best First Round Series. Boston and Toronto is No. 1. Duh.


by Kolby Solinsky

Editor, White Cover Magazine


8. Chicago v. Minnesota

Did anybody watch this?

It was exciting for a game or two — as the Wild clung to whatever chance they had to extend this thing past the standard 5-game loss, the NHL’s way of telling a team, “You did pretty well to get that one win but you still got clobbered.”

The Blackhawks had this thing wrapped up in April.

7. Vancouver v. San Jose

This was actually a pretty good series. Games 2 and 4 were two of the better contests you’ll find this offseason. The hockey was fast and two-way in those matches but, ultimately, four games just ain’t enough to make this series worth watching or caring about.

6. Anaheim v. Detroit

A couple great moments — some late tying goals and Henrik Zetterberg entering #BeastMode in Games 6 and 7 — are the lipstick on what was a pretty boring pig of a series. Normally, a No. 7 upsetting a No. 2 is a big deal but, when that No. 7 is the Detroit Red Wings, the romance really isn’t there.

Congrats to Hockeytown, though. They may have a real shot against Chicago, a divisional rival they know very well.

5. Washington v. New York

Game 2 was the high point of this series, as Mike Green’s overtime goal sent the D.C. area into a frenzy and buoyed the Capitals with a 2-0 series lead.

That’s about where the wheels fell off for Washington, as the Rangers stormed back to win four of the next five games, including a dominant 5-0 victory in Game 7.

Henrik Lundvqist was exceptional, as always, but Rick Nash and Brad Richards were largely nowhere to be found, so there wasn’t much to write home about here.

4. Montreal v. Ottawa

Consider it a huge compliment that this five-game series could produce such lasting memories, even if the premier one was seeing Lars Eller wallpapered along the blueline by Ottawa’s Eric Gryba. Kyle Turris’s overtime goal in Game 4 turned out to be all Ottawa needed to destroy Montreal’s psyche. Well, that and Carey Price’s pulled hamstring, or whatever a “lower body injury” means.

3. Los Angeles v. St. Louis

A lot of folks though this was the best hockey since Bobby Clarke was hacking ankles in the Seventies, but I drop it third place only for its lack of goals or really any offensive excitement.

Neither of these teams likes to win by firing squad, so instead they beat they pulp out of each other and they managed to do it without doing anything too illegal.

It was old time hockey and it was pretty close to perfect.

2. Pittsburgh v. New York Islanders

It took six games and a couple overtimes for the Pittsburgh Penguins to flush the Eastern Conference’s best No. 8 seed in a while down the drain, but this series saw the best from both clubs. They get extra points for watching firepower with more firepower. Every John Tavares highlight or Kyle Okposo marathon shift was followed by equal feats of incredible-ness from Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin. Evgeni Nabokov and Marc-Andre Fleury were no match for two teams that could out-hussle and out-hit almost every other team in the NHL.

This was a David and Goliath match that turned out to be Goliath and Goliath throwing hay makers for 360-plus minutes. The best team won, but the Islanders deserve some recognition from this board.

1. Boston v. Toronto

It really had it all. A 3-1 comeback by the underdog, a 4-1 comeback by the Bruins in Game 7 — in Boston, no less. A tupsy-turvy trade history that’s seen these clubs swap an exiled superstar, an eventual No. 2 draft pick and Stanley Cup champion, and a pint-sized Fantastic Finnish goaltender. It also had 20,000 strong peacefully sharing space outside the Air Canada Centre.

After Game 1, there was every indication this series would be a rout led by Boston. After Game 4 — and David Krejci’s demoralizing overtime goal — it seemed like this wouldn’t even reach Game 6.

And then, as Patrice Bergeron snapped the lid on Toronto’s dreams with both a tying and game-winning goal in Game 7, we were left to reminisce about the best first round series since Alex Burrows and the Canucks did this.