Skip to main content

NHL questions: Can the Rangers go all the way? Is Brodeur on his last playoff run?

The NHL's conference finals opened over the weekend without some of the top teams and big stars that highlighted the regular season.

Long gone are Pittsburgh's powerful point producers—Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby. With them went the Presidents' Trophy winners, the Vancouver Canucks, the No. 1 seed in the West, who were trying to return to the Stanley Cup Finals for a second season.

The team that defeated the Canucks last June—the Boston Bruins—also are gone, guaranteeing there will be a new champion.

But don't fret. There is still plenty of glitz and glamour left in the post-season, and ultimately, the possibility of a Broadway-Hollywood championship round. So, as we gaze ahead, let's look at some questions and offer a few predictions:



Remember all those nasty fights and crippling suspensions that came out of the first two rounds? Yeah, seems long ago. Teams are keeping the peace in the semifinals, with a shot at playing for the Stanley Cup at stake. So did teams just go to their neutral corners and decide to lay low? Somewhat. But mostly the teams that decided to win with their fists—like Pittsburgh and Philadelphia—were simply eliminated. Ratings are up and the NHL wants to keep the numbers growing. Teams fighting for the Cup, instead of against each other, will have to spark the interest through the finals.



No team has ever played 14 games in the first two rounds and gone on to win the Stanley Cup. New York will have to do that—thanks to grueling tests provided by Ottawa and Washington—if it wants to win its first championship since 1994. Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist and company looked awfully sharp on Monday night en route to a 3-0 win over New Jersey in Game 1 of the East Finals, so maybe history will be made.



The veteran goaltender turned 40 years old during the second round against Philadelphia, and has shown some wear and tear at certain points this season. But let's face it, the Devils are back in the NHL's semifinals and to think he hasn't had a good bit to do with it would be naive. A year after missing the post-season for the first time since 1996, Brodeur, a three-time Cup winner, has eight playoff wins and one shutout. He's been quite sharp, and it's unlikely that he'd walk away after a series against his team's biggest rival, the Rangers.



The Lakers and Clippers are both alive in the NBA, and we all know that Los Angeles is a basketball town. But the Kings, the darlings of the post-season, are on a run for the ages, and the stars are coming out to the games much like they did when Wayne Gretzky donned the silver and black. It shouldn't be a surprise. Hollywood loves a good (success) story, and goaltender Jonathan Quick and coach Darryl Sutter have been scripting one for a month now. Ask the Canucks and Blues, who went a combined 1-8 against the Kings.



Certainly, there was cause for concern last summer when the financially strapped Coyotes had to let All-Star goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov walk away to Philadelphia. It was a business decision that had to be made, and Phoenix was going to have to find a way to move on. Well, consider that done. The Coyotes snared Mike Smith instead, and all he's done is backstop the franchise's most memorable playoff run. The Coyotes defeated the Blackhawks and Predators en route to the West Finals, and with whiteouts in the crowd and a new ownership group on the way, all is well in Phoenix. Meanwhile, Bryzgalov posted a 3.46 goals-against average in two rounds forthe Flyers, and is home for the summer, as a result.



The crystal ball is still foggy at this point. Flyers fans would rather renounce the cheese steak as their favourite sandwich rather than have to stomach watching ex-stars Mike Richards and Jeff Carter hoist the Cup in Los Angeles. Martin Brodeur just might call it a career with the New Jersey Devils if he wins that fourth ring. But it says here, start planning a parade for the Big Apple. All signs point to the Rangers as the team set to win their first Stanley Cup since Mark Messier took them to the promised land in 1994. Unlike the former captain's bold boast during that run, however, we will not guarantee it.


Logan Cooley

Reacting to Team USA's 2023 World Junior Camp Roster

Tony Ferrari lists the snubs, the surprises, the first-year NHL draft eligible players and an X-factor as Team USA released its world junior camp roster on Monday.

Jacob Trouba

Fischler Report: Figuring Out the Flawed New York Rangers

Stan Fischler's report defines a team that's crumbling and a team that's invincible, evaluates players under pressure, praises the Kraken and more.

Darnell Nurse

Hockey Things: What Caught Our Eye (Dec. 5)

The Connor Bedard show hits Edmonton again, Kia Nurse roasts her brother and London Hoilett is the Teddy Bear Toss Game hero in Calgary.