• By: Dave Gross

NHL playoffs: Watchability rankings

Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Crave TV . . . take a pew.

The next couple of weeks on the love of my life – the 55’ Panasonic Smart Viera – belong to the National Hockey League.

On any given Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, etc., there’ll be no less than four games to choose from per night. The fact that they’re all first-round playoff games adds intrigue to the active addiction.

The first round, after all, is always the best – anger, anxiety, restlessness, skill, referee-bating and hating, speed, adoring fandom and everyone’s love-‘em-or-hate-‘em, the Toronto Maple Leafs. It’s all there for your digestion. Night after night.

Breaking it down on who to watch is no easy task, but here we go, nonetheless. (Ranked from top to bottom. And don’t get your shorts in a knot if you're Carolina. This is pure subjectivity. Some of it aberrant too.).


WHY SHOULD I WATCH?: For oh-so-many reasons. The well-trod path would suggest it’s all about the Leafs and is this the season they finally(?) . . . well, you know the rest. The other much-discussed reason? Will Tampa ever come back down to Earth after years of dominance.

Both are compelling, and the two storylines have been circling each other for months and months.

The plain truth here, though, is that this is just going to be everything you’d want in a hockey matchup. The skill set will be off the charts. Undoubtedly the edginess scale will follow suit.

Not a dull moment. Guaranteed.



Another pair that met in the first round last season. Back then, the story surrounded a high-powered offence (without much defence) facing a somewhat high-powered defence (without much offence).

Things will be different and a little more evened out in 2023.

"I don't think last year's series has a lot to do with this year's series," Kings’ Drew Doughty said. "They're better defensively and they obviously still have the high-powered offense. We're better offensively this year than we were last year."

All of which will make this appointment viewing.

Oh yeah. Connor McDavid is all that on his own.



Damn, I feel old(er).

Twenty-nine years ago Ranger captain Mark Messier made the promise to break the backs of the Devils in their seven-game set. He did it. Pure drama.

This time – no guarantees as of yet.

What’s fairly certain is entertainment. Lots of entertainment.

What might be missing is the nastiness element. These are two teams that sport deft and cleverness. Then again, any series with Jacob Trouba in it is bound to have its moments.

The notion that we get a hefty serving of Jack Hughes, Patrick Kane, Artemi Panarin and Timo Meier (among others) has skill lovers salivating.



Eastern Ontario doesn’t get to see much of either unless you make an effort and pay through the teeth . . . but that’s another story. Or you find a friend who can hijack a feed or two . . . but that’s another another story.

Back to the matter at hand.

This could morph into the one-to-watch in the Western Conference; a classic tumble between savvy and grit.

The Wild are my dark horse in this playoff. Just got a feeling, and when you have a feeling, go for it. (Or at least put it down in writing. So there.)



This one makes Top-5 for one reason: ‘What if?’

What if Florida finds a dent in the Teflon? What if the B’s lose their footing? What if Matthew Tkachuk becomes Mark Messier overnight? What if Aaron Ekblad does the same with Brian Leetch? (This now ends a fixation on the ’94 Rangers).

Then again, what could keep us interested is watching that exceedingly well-oiled product known as the Boston Bruins ply their trade for four or five games.



If enjoying double-overtime games is to your taste, then the Golden Knights/Jets clash could be for you.

If goals-a-plenty is your style, take a pass here.

Both clubs excel in the shut down; Vegas due to one of the best defence collections in the circuit and Winnipeg due to Connor Hellebuyck.

Scoring likely will be on the low end, which signals tight, tight games and eventual long, long nights for viewers.



Nathan MacKinnon led the Avalanche with 111 points. Former Leaf legend Jared McCann led the Kraken with 70.

In case you missed it, Colorado won the Stanley Cup last year. Granted there’s no Gabriel Landeskog or Nazem Kadri this time around but even with that, not much of a speed bump here for the Avs . . . or preoccupation with staying up late to watch.



You ever meet someone and right away there’s just something – something you can’t really put your finger on – that irks the crap out of you?

That irk is Carolina.

(Yeah, yeah, boo-hoo says Owen Nolan).

Maybe if the Canes moved back to Hartford there’d be a little love. Right now it’s Hockey hits Hooterville all day long.