Alright, I’m going to start by saying that I wrote these predictions before the playoffs began, but I never got around to posting them on the blog. I’m telling the truth! You’ll know because a couple of my predictions seem a little silly after the first few nights of games *cough* LA *cough*. Anyways, here we go:
1 Pittsburgh Penguins vs New York Islanders
This is one of the easier picks in my opinion. It is difficult to argue that Pittsburgh is not the best team in the East. They have a solid goaltender, a quick defensive group, and one of the most skilled groups of forwards in the league. Even before picking up Iginla and Morrow (players who will really help a long playoff run, in my opinion), this team was still one of the best in the East. The islanders played amazing hockey to make it into the playoffs, however I think the penguins are just too powerful for the Islanders to deal with. If the Penguins shut down Tavares, the Islanders don’t have much else to answer with.
Prediction: Penguins in 5
Montreal Canadiens vs Ottawa Senators
Unlike the first prediction, this one was one of the more difficult picks. Ottawa and Montreal are very similar teams. They both have young, superstar defensemen (Karlsson and Subban), and two of the best goalies in the league, even with Price’s recent struggles. Scoring is divided through at least three lines, with neither team have a “Superstar” forward, especially with Spezza being sidelined. In my opinion, this series will come down to which goaltender plays the best. This series will probably come down to one goal, much like the Boston-Montreal series in the 2011 playoffs. Anderson has the upper hand at this point, but if Price can play the way everyone knows he can, this series can easily go to either team.
Prediction: Senators in 7
Washington Capitals vs. New York Rangers
This is another tough one. The Rangers have had their struggles throughout their year, with many of their key forwards under-performing for much of the season. Lundqvist was good, but not nearly as great as the Vezina-winning goaltender from last year. Rick Nash seems to have found his stride at the end of the year, but Brad Richards still has yet to find his rhythm Many are hoping he’ll excel in the playoffs to make up for his below-average regular season. Washington looked as though they would miss the playoffs altogether, until their captain Ovechkin took his game to an unworldly level, helping his team steamroll their way to third in the Eastern conference. If Ovechkin can keep his game elevated to where it was right up until the end of the season, they Capitals are going to be difficult to contain. Braden Holtby also has to be solid, but he proved last post-season that he can steal a few games for his team.
Prediction: Capitals in 7
Boston Bruins vs Toronto Maple Leafs
Many people are putting a lot of focus on the Kessel/Seguin story. In my opinion, that topic has been gotten waaaaaaaay too much air time in the last couple of years. I don’t really remember the last time a traded players (or traded player and the drafted player from that trade) have been compared for so long. These teams are much more than just those two players, so that’s what I’m going to talk about. Toronto have toughened up their team this year, and a few times they flexed their muscle to help tilt a game in their favour (just ask the Habs in the first few games they played). The leafs are talented, but they are still very young. The entire team has only 12 games more playoff experience that Boston’s Jaromir Jagr. Reimer has been good throughout the year, but the playoffs are a different animal, something he has never experienced before. The Bruins, on the other hands, are still made up of most of the parts from the Stanley Cup-winning team of two years ago. They are extremely deep, and can roll 4 lines throughout the entire game. Both Tuuka Rask and Anton Khudobin have been very good throughout the year, and their defense is as solid as ever. I think that the Leafs are going to have a tough time dealing with a very solid Bruins team.
Prediction: Bruins in 5
Chicago Blackhawks vs Minnesota Wild
Let’s face it: Chicago is the team to beat. They were the best team in the league by quite a large margin, and they don’t look like they’ll be slowing down anytime soon. Both of their goalies have been incredible, all four lines have been contributing offensively, and their defense is tough and stingy. They best forwards (Toews, Kane, Hossa and Sharp) have been their best players. This is a complete team, and they’re going to be tough to beat. The Wild made two massive additions over the summer with Suter and Parise, but I feel that the team is simply missing two or three key players to be a contender. Until then, they’re in for a wild ride with the Blackhawks.
Prediction: Blackhawks in 5
Anaheim Ducks vs Detroit Red Wings
This is going to be a great series to watch. The ducks have exceeded all expectations this season, and they were consistent all season, whereas many people though they might fizzle out towards the end of the season. They have played with great energy and determination, taking many teams by surprise. They are blessed with four or five superstars, and they have been contributing a lot this season. On the other hand, the Red Wings only just crept into the playoffs. This is a team that is used to being an elite team in the West, and I don’t think they enjoyed having to fight for one of the last spots of the playoffs. The Red Wings feel like they have something to prove, and I’m sure they want to bring Anaheim’s stellar season to an end very quickly. Both of these teams are going to battle hard, and I think it’s going to go all the way.
Prediction: Anaheim in 7
Vancouver Canucks vs San Jose Sharks
I think it’s taken a while for Vancouver to get over losing in the Stanley Cup Finals two seasons ago. This year, they want to hush all the critics, especially after being eliminated last year in embarrassing style. The Canucks are going to want to make an example of the Sharks, but they are missing one of their best goalies: Corey Schneider. Luongo is still a great goalie, and there is every possibility that he can help the Canucks win the series. The Sharks are a very talented team, especially with their top two forward lines. This team can easily score 4 or 5 goals a game, but they are a little vulnerably defensively. Niemi will have to be outstanding for the Sharks to win this series, because the Canucks have 4 deep lines that can all contribute on the score sheet.
Prediction: Canucks in 7
St. Louis Blues vs Los Angeles Kings
I’m going to admit something on this pick. Have you ever taken a multiple choice test, and gotten 2 or 3 questions in a row with the same letter answer? You feel like you’ve made a mistake, and almost try to make the next question be a different answer. Well, that’s kinda what I did on this pick. For the first three Western Conference picks, I went with the higher seed. I didn’t like the idea of picking seeds 1-4. And to be fair, this series is going to be that close. You could basically flip a coin on this one. Is Quick going to take his game to the next level like he did last post-season? Or will Elliott play the way he did last season, putting up some of the best statistics in NHL history? I feel that both teams are pretty even from top to bottom. They both have some great players, and both teams can be really stingy when it comes to goals against. Even though there might not be a lot of goals, I think this series is going to be very entertaining.
Prediction: Kings in 7
What would your picks be? Do you think there is anything I overlooked? Feel free to comment with you picks, or who you think is going to really step it up this post season!