• By: Dave Gross

Isles-Bruins East finale? You betcha’

The Great Eight.

With apologies for the steal on Alex Ovechkin’s nickname, that’s where we stand right now.

Eight teams with a shot at Lord Stanley.

After a qualifying round record of 5-3, Round 1 of the true playoffs produced a resounding 5-3 record (resounding?) of guess-taking.

So be it.

Let’s just call the average production caused by the Gallagher Effect.

Montreal beats Philly with hockey’s penultimate pest.

But I digress.

I do that a lot.

It happens.

Deal with it.

On to Round 2 we go.

Here’s what we hoe.

And for what ever it is worth, yes, even we know the playdowns started during the weekend.

Just gives us more meat than gristle.


Boston vs. Tampa Bay

As it should be.

These are the two top teams emanating from the Eastern Conference, faux seedings regardless.

And it’s a real pickle to untangle.

On one hand you have Tampa: stout and rich with talent even in the absence of super sniper Steven Stamkos.

Stamkos injured himself during the Lightning’s post-season training camp. Of course no one is saying what the issue is outside of it involving the infamous lower body.

Tampa is still loaded. Speed and skill and edge. If Victor Hedman isn’t the NHL’s best darned defenceman, he’s at the very least in the Top 2.

Tampa showed in its series win over Columbus a maturity and patience we haven’t seen before.

Meantime, Boston got David Pastrnak back just in time to reunite the league’s best line.

Maturity is also a common theme involving the B’s. This group knows how to win (just ask the Leafs).

This one is going seven . . . and


NY Islanders vs. Philadelphia

From the entertainment angle, we here in this little corner of the page are not pleased that the Flyers sprung through to Round 2.

Mind you, if these were the days of Rick Tocchet, Pete Zezel, Ron Hextall and Tim Kerr sure, we’d love it.

Don’t know about you, but this Flyers team is pretty blah.

No pizzazz.

From the I-wear-my-heart-on-my-sleeve department, gimme a whole lotta love for the Isles.

GM Lou Lamoriello has put together a rather old school bunch. Ross Johnston, Matt Martin, Cal Clutterbuck, Casey Cizikas and Uncle Leo Komarov. Love it.

Throw in the absolutely splendid Mathew Barzal and we’re buying.

This is a pure emotional pick, but it worked in Round 1.

So . . .



Colorado vs. Dallas

So I’m in Montreal during the past weekend visiting with my pop and step-mom insisting there’s no hockey on that night (Saturday).


Dad is still recovering.

And not too happy. (We watched Ricky Gervais’ After Life instead, which nonetheless didn’t go over so well).

Missed the opener which was probably a good thing given I was going to snag the Avalanche as the lone team to dust off Round 2 with a clean sweep.

Dallas gets the one-up.

But I seriously can’t see this thing go long.

I pegged Vegas and Colorado for the West finale, and we’re still leaning there big time.

Dallas is a ‘nice’ team with a ‘nice’ mix of talent; Colorado is a machine. Tough and fast. Unstoppable me-thinks.


Vegas vs. Vancouver

God bless the Canucks.

Of all the Canadian teams in the mix (except one, ahem) during these strange playoff times, did you really expect Vancouver to be the last-man-standing?

Me neither.

Every time I see a Travis Green presser I think, he doesn’t believe it either.

It’s been a helluva run for the West Coasters. And the future is immensely bright.

But, but, but.

Vegas is on a mission.

Have I mentioned they’ve got a cat named Mark Stone to boot?

When the Ottawa Senators eventually look back at the trade that sent Stone to the bright lights, they’ll likely realize it was one of the worst trades in franchise history.

Sorry kids, but Erik Brannstrom is not going to be a shining star.

Stone is going to shine for years.

He and his trusted mates move on here.

And that’s the bottom line.