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Playoffs 1st Round Predictions



blog-0228279001333998521.pngThis year is perhaps the most open the race to the cup has ever been. Not one team is a favorite, the Cup winner could come from a bottom or a top seed. Should make for a fun playoffs full of drama. Well let's get to the predictions.

Eastern Conference:

1. New York Rangers (51-24-7 109 pts) vs 8. Ottawa Senators (41-31-10 92 pts)

I think that the Rangers should be happy with this matchup. The Rangers would have prefered the Capitals, but the Sens are not a bad matchup either. Ottawa stumbled down the stretch and raised questions marks. First and foremost starting with goaltending, Craig Anderson has had an up and down season. The chances of Anderson outplaying Lundqvist are slim to none, and that would need to be the case for the Sens to pull the upset. It will be interesting to see what kind of game Erik Karlsson brings in this series after a unbelievable regular season. Ottawa has surprised a lot of people this year with making the playoffs, and playing with nothing to lose is a definate benefit to the Sens. Of course the pressure is on New York and the Rangers never seem to thrive under pressure. However I think Ryan Callahan is built for this time of the season and he will not allow his team to falter in round 1.

Key Players: Erik Karlsson, Craig Anderson, Brandon Dubinsky, Henrik Lundqvist

Prediction: Rangers in 6

2. Boston Bruins (49-29-4 102 pts) vs 7. Washington Capitals (42-32-8 92 pts)

The Washington Capitals saved themselves from mass chaos for the time being. However I think they have only delayed the inevidable. Major changes will be needed in the offseason with coaching, management, and players. Alex Ovechkin decided to play hockey in the final month of the season getting the Caps into the post season. However a match up with the defending Champions is not ideal. Especially with Thomas Vokoun and Michael Neuvirth on the shelf. Young Brayden Holtby will be in charge of guarding the cage against the strong Bruins offense, a tough task for any goalie let a lone a youngster like Holtby. Boston is built for playoff hockey, but the question is will they get the goaltending they got in last years run. To start the season Thomas was on fire, however in the second half he looked bad. Tuuka Rask was primed to steal the starting job again until he was injured. Having Rask back for the playoffs will give the Bruins needed insurance. This Boston team has been here before, I expect them to run over Capitals. Over/under on two games until Semin runs and hides? That buzzing noise you hear in the backround when thinking of this series is the buzzsaw ready to roll through the Capitals.

Key Players: Alex Ovechkin, Tim Thomas, Brayden Holtby, Mike Green, Alex Semin

Prediction: Bruins in 5

3. Florida Panthers (38-26-18 94 pts) vs New Jersey Devils (48-28-6 102 pts)

Congrats to the Devils for winning the 1st round lottery. Congrats to the Florida Panthers for making the playoffs for the first time in 11 years. However sorry Florida there are no loser points or shootouts in the playoffs. New Jersey will make quick work of the Panthers in this series, one step closer to the Devils convincing Parise NJ is the place to be. The technically under .500 division winning Panthers will need a small miracle to compete in this series. They have no edge over NJ including defense and goaltending. I am kind of pushing for NJ this season to perhaps see Brodeur go out on top. It will also be interesting to see Ilya Kovalchuk play in his second playoff series, his first was in Atlanta in a 4-0 Rangers drubbing. Pete DeBoer will take joy in knocking out his former team, but you have to commend the job Kevin Dineen has done. Florida is heading in the right way for the future, but the nice story ends here. By the way how about three 100 + point teams in the Atlantic Division.

Key Players: Jose Theodore, Illya Kovalchuk, Marty Brodeur

Prediction: NJ in 4

4. Pittsburgh Penguins (51-25-6 108 pts) vs. 5. Philadelphia Flyers (47-26-9 103 pts)

Boy is this going to be a dandy. Two teams that straight up HATE eachother. The unfortunate part is that a top team is going to be sent home in round one and the winner may be too beat up to go past round two. This series boils down to one person and one person only, Ilya Bryzgalov. The Flyers need Bryz to be at top form to take this series. With Bryz not being 100% I'm not so sure I like the Flyers chances. Sure the Flyer D is solid and they can score with anyone, however how do you bet against Crosby, Malkin, Letang, Neal, Kunitz, and Orpik. The only saving grace for Philly could be if they catch MA Fleury off his game. I am not a huge fan off Fleury even though he already has a ring, to many times have I seem give up bad goals and play poorly. Tough call here, but game 7 will be played in Pittsburgh and that is what pushes me over the edge.

Key Players: Ilya Bryzgalov, Marc Andre Fleury, Danny Briere, Evgeni Malkin, Scott Hartnell, Sidney Crosby

Prediction: Pens in 7

Western Conference:

1. Vancouver Canucks (51-22-9 111 pts) vs Los Angeles Kings (40-27-15 95 pts)

Hang onto your hats with this prediction. The Kings had problems scoring all season long even though they have excellent players like Brown, Kopitar, Richards, Doughty, and recently Carter. Jonathon Quick had an excellent season and in my opinion stole the Vezina from Lundqvist. Vancouver with only one Sedin and now being a two line scoring team instead of three after the Hodgson trade they don't scare me as much. They seemed to get back to form as the season came to end however with the enigma that is Roberto Luongo the Canucks could be in trouble. I have no doubts that Corey Schneider will seem time in this series, but I think the goaltending issue will ruin Vancouver. Quick is the better goalie in this match up and if they Kings can find the net they have a good chance in this matchup.

Key Players: Jonathon Quick, Roberto Luongo, Sedin/s, Anze Kopitar, Mike Richards, Ryan Kessler

Prediction: Kings in 6

2. St. Louis Blues (49-22-11 109 pts) vs San Jose Sharks (43-29-10 96 pts)

The Blues and Sharks were both surprises this season for two different reasons. The Blues were on top of the conference and the Sharks were on the bottom. I think SJ is in for a similar fate like the Caps. The Blues are carried by strong goaltending and defense. I think Neimi, but both Blues goaltenders are better. SJ has had troubles scoring and this match up will not make things easy. I am not 100% sold on the Blues, but I think they at least get to round two. Which Joe Thorton will show up? Which Sharks team will show up for that matter.

Key Players: Antti Neimi, Joe Thorton, Brian Elliott, Jaro Halak, David Backes, Brett Burns, Alex Pietroangelo

Prediction: Blues in 6

3. Phoenix Coyotes (42-27-13 97 pts) vs 6. Chicago Blackhawks (45-26-11 101 pts)

This matchup is similar to the 3 vs 6 in the East. The 6th seed is the better team, however in this match up not by a lot more. The question here is if Mike Smith can steal this series for the Yotes and can Corey Crawford hold up for the Hawks. Chicago can score like not many teams can, but who can match the scoring on the Coyotes? If Chicago can get back David Bolland and Jonathon Toews this series won't be that close. The Yotes just don't have the fire power to hang with the Blackhawks in this series. If I were Phoenix I would have rather lost the division and played Vancouver or St. Louis. The Hawks also feature a strong D core that can match the D play of the Coyotes.

Key Players: Mike Smith, Corey Crawford, Jonathon Toews, Patrick Kane, Shane Doan

Prediction: Hawks in 6

4. Nashville Predators (48-26-8 104 pts) vs 5. Detroit Red Wings (48-28-6 102 pts)

Another crazy good matchup and I love watching Pavel Datsyuk work during playoff time. To this very moment I am torn on who I want to pick here. I like Nashville with Pekka Rinne in goal and the strong defense. However it is so hard to go against the Datsyuk and Lindstrom. This year Nashville features an element they have rarely had in the playoffs, scoring. With Alex Radulov in the fold and the acquisition of Andrei Kostitsyn makes the Preds more dangerous. This is going to be a battle of two strong teams and a shame one will have to go home early. I don't feel good about my choice, but I'm going to go with Nashville.

Key Players: Pekka Rinne, Jimmy Howard, Alexander Radulov, Pavel Datsyuk, Johan Franzen, Shea Weber

Prediction: Preds in 7

Cup Prediction: Penguins vs Blackhawks

Blackhawks win it all in 7


Recommended Comments

Agreed on your prediction for NSH-DET. However, as a Wings fan, I am impressed and thankful you gave them 7 games. I figured 6, or even 5. Either way, Detroit probably won't get out of the first round.

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I actually have the Preds taking it in 7 also. It will all swing on the effectiveness of the Detroit PP. If they get it going, they could upset. If not, they're done, and it won't take 7.

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