NHL 1st Round Playoff Predictions

It’s our favorite time of the year, the start of the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs. Unfortunately my New Jersey Devils couldn’t follow up their trip to the Stanley Cup Finals last year with even a playoff appearance this year, which is disappointing. Either way it’s the best playoffs in sports and I can’t wait until the puck drops at 8pm tonight. Before that, however, we have our predictions for each of the eight quarterfinal series.

Eastern Conference:

#1 Pittsburgh Penguins vs. #8 NY Islanders

The New York Islanders are way overmatched in their first playoff series since 2007 and they will be lucky to squeak out one win against the possibly Crosby-less Penguins. A trade to acquire Jarome Iginla quickly bolted the Penguins to a Stanley Cup favorite and don’t look for the Islanders (who will be playing their first nationally televised game since 1993 on Wednesday) to slow them down in this series.
Pittsburgh Penguins win 4-0

#2 Montreal Canadiens vs #7 Ottawa Senators

This is a great series. Two Canadian teams located close to each other facing off in the first round. Look for a very physical and enduring series. The difference will come down to experience and talent. The Senators haven’t gone past the first round since 2007 while the Canadiens reached the East Finals in 2010. This time Montreal has more of the right pieces for a long playoff run, but Ottawa won’t make it easy.
Montreal Canadiens win 4-2

#3 Washington Capitals vs #6 New York Rangers

Disregard the seeds in this matchup as the Rangers are clearly the favorite. Washington played in worst division in the league this year and got in by the virtue of having to play their division rivals for a great percentage of the short season. The Rangers have Nash and Richards going at the right time and with Lundqvist in net they should be able to overcome their lack of home-ice advantage.
New York Rangers win 4-2

#4 Boston Bruins vs #5 Toronto Maple Leafs

Toronto’s first postseason appearance since 2004 has been long awaited but it will be short lived. The powerful and playoff experienced Boston Bruins will be too much for the Maple Leafs, I’ll give them one game at home but not more than that. Only superb goaltending by Toronto can change that.
Boston Bruins win 4-1

Western Conference:

#1 Chicago Blackhawks vs #8 Minnesota Wild

I really think people are underestimating Minnesota in this series. Sure Chicago has Toews, Kane, Hossa, and all those stars but Minnesota has stars of their own in Parise, Heatley, and Suter. Their trade deadline aquisition of Jason Pominville from Buffalo also helped round out a solid core of players. They barely squeaked in the playoffs but they have players with experience and never count them out with Nicky Backstrom in net. I see the series going 6 or 7 but I’ll give Chicago the benefit of the doubt with having home ice, and the excellent season they’ve had. I wouldn’t be completely shocked to see the Wild win this series however.
Chicago Blackhawks win 4-2

#2 Anaheim Ducks vs #7 Detroit Red Wings

Age seems to finally have caught up with Detroit as they barely kept their postseason streak alive this year clinching on the final days of the season. I just don’t think they have that old Detroit swagger this year, Anaheim has the talent and youth to overcome the Wings and end their season.
Anaheim Ducks win 4-1

#3 Vancouver Canucks vs #6 San Jose Sharks

Had San Jose not started the season on an unreal run, they may not have made the playoffs. They really struggled down the stretch and went .500 in their last ten. Vancouver is deadly with home-ice and seems like they just have too much for San Jose to handle. However, I really question Vancouver’s goaltending situation and think they are overrated, they only had two more points than the Sharks in the regular season. They are also known to choke come playoff time.
San Jose Sharks win 4-2

#4 St. Louis Blues vs #5 Los Angeles Kings

Remember how bad the Kings started the season? And now they have the five seed? They really got things together as this shortened season went on and I don’t find the Blues to have a pure scorer or superstar. Los Angeles also have the experience and hunger from last year’s championship to overwhelm the Blues here. I hate to say it.
Los Angeles Kings win 4-1

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