This has been a strange first round on a number of fronts. Scoring is up, penalties are being called, teams are holding onto multi-goal leads, the margin of victory has never been higher, and series have never been closer. It’s been a very different Stanley Cup playoffs. The postseason is routinely unpredictable, but this is a new level for it.
It’s a whole new world out there and that’s made it difficult to feel out each series and assess what happens next — especially with things changing so quickly from game to game.
So, that’s the goal here: a team-by-team mid-series vibe check to quickly recap what’s gone right, what’s gone wrong and what hope is left. How to properly assess the vibes you ask?
Glad you brought that up, there’s only one reasonable way to measure vibes: with the words of the most popular artist in the world.
Hey, when you have a gimmick that works, it’s best to beat it into the ground until it doesn’t.
Odds of advancing: 100 percent
Vibe Check: “I only see daylight, daylight, daylight, daylight”
In the least surprising result of the first round, the Colorado Avalanche beat the Nashville Predators. It was never close as the Avalanche once again steam-rolled an inferior opponent in the opening round. I guess some things still are predictable and Colorado made due on its exorbitant 92 percent series probability. The real challenge comes next in defeating their nemesis: the second round. That’s a future problem. For now, it’s clear skies for the Cup favorite.
Odds of advancing: 0 percent
Vibe Check: “I’m sorry, the old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now. Why? Oh, ’cause she’s dead.”
Would this series have been different with Juuse Saros? Maybe Nashville steals one of the tighter games, but probably not on the whole. There isn’t much to take out of this series other than the understanding that the Predators are very far from what it takes to truly contend. If Colorado is the bar the Predators are well below it. The dream with this core feels like it’s over.
Odds of advancing: 68 percent
Vibe Check: “Are we out of the woods yet?”
Naturally, the woodsy vibe goes to the Wild. But no, at 2-2 they’re not even close to out of the woods yet. The Blues have injury problems, are getting caved in at five-on-five as expected, and have an ever-depleting blue line that might suggest the hard part of this series is over. But Game 4 beckoned with a new goalie in net and a fierce resolve that Minnesota couldn’t figure out through the first two periods. The Wild made it spicy in the third, but the comeback kings couldn’t get it done this time.
The Wild are still in the driver’s seat with home-ice advantage in the remaining games and have earned 62 percent of the expected goals so far. They’ve been the better team on aggregate and there’s very good reason to feel comfortable about the team’s chances of winning the series. The vibes should be good, but there’s still that fear that naturally arises from Minnesota sports, which is where the woodsy motif fits perfectly. The Blues are battered and bruised, looking like a very beatable team. But beatable is no guarantee — they’re still lurking in the shadows of the tree-line, ready to take this series the distance.