The Islanders and Canadiens enter the Stanley Cup Semifinals as underdogs. Which one has the best chance to continue their memorable run?
James O’Brien, NHL writer: Frankly, they both have great chances, and the Vegas odds scream “stay away from the Golden Knights, seriously.” I’ll give the Islanders a slight edge because they beat better teams, as a whole, than the Canadiens did to get this far. But I wouldn’t be surprised if either one pulls this off, and might even pin a tweet about both doing it.
Adam Gretz, NHL writer: Montreal’s story is fascinating, but I just do not see them having enough to beat Vegas. The Islanders, though, have been knocking off teams that are more talented than them on paper for three years now in the playoffs. Shutting down teams and frustrating them is what Barry Trotz teams do, and even though this is the best team they have faced yet, it would not be a shock at all if the Islanders won it. Part of me almost expects them to based on the way these playoffs have gone.
Marisa Ingemi, NHL writer: I guess Montreal because they keep doing it. The Islanders were the fourth seed in the East but also weren’t that far away from the Penguins and Bruins. Montreal’s take down of Toronto was something, even if Canada was pretty bad this year. I don’t really believe in momentum in the playoffs, but, the Habs at least have been doing this already.
Sean Leahy, NHL writer: Is it crazy to think that Carey Price, who apparently found a time machine and went back to 2015, can stymie the Golden Knights over a seven-game series? It’s certainly possible the way he’s playing. Not having Jeff Petry early on in the series will hurt, but if the Habs can shut down the Maple Leafs’ offense and then the Jets’ weapons sans Mark Scheifele, they’ll have their work cut out for them again Vegas. But, again, this all depends on Price and if vintage Carey continues to show up in the series.
Michael Finewax, NBC Sports Edge Senior Hockey Writer/Editor: The Islanders are capable of the upset, more so than the Canadiens. Semyon Varlamov is almost as good as Andrei Vasilevskiy who is widely acclaimed as the best netminder in the NHL and New York’s style of defensive play, will help immensely. While the Lightning are star-studded, the Islanders play an outstanding team defense and counter when the opportunity arises. New York is strong down the middle with Mathew Barzal, Brock Nelson, the underrated Jean-Gabriel Pageau and a hard-playing fourth line led by center Casey Cizikas. Varlamov is capable of shutting the door and if he has trouble, there may be no better backup in the NHL than Ilya Sorokin.