Stanley Cup Playoffs Round 1 Predictions

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Updated: April 12, 2015
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Eastern Conference

 

New York Rangers vs. Pittsburgh Penguins

It will be a rematch of a second-round series from last year, which saw the Rangers overcome a 3-1 deficit to defeat the Penguins and ultimately go to the Stanley Cup Finals — only to lose to the Los Angeles Kings. However, the tables have turned for this series as the Penguins barely squeaked into the playoffs. The Penguins are definitely battered and bruised and not 100 percent healthy with injury concerns to Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby, as well as questions in goal and on defense. The Rangers’ only question mark: who will produce offensively(?) because we know defense and goaltending will be stellar.

Prediction: Rangers in 5

 

New York Islanders vs. Washington Capitals

The Islanders desperately needed home ice in this series to get the favorable defensive match-ups against the line of Nicklas Backstrom and superstar Alex Ovechkin. Plus, their top shutdown defenseman Travis Hamonic is questionable. The Islanders’ biggest question mark: how will the late-season struggles of goaltender Jaroslav Halak affect them? Tough call here, but:

Prediction: Capitals in 7

 

Montreal Canadiens vs. Ottawa Senators

So much going back and forth in this series for me. It appears Habs leading goal scorer Max Pacioretty should be okay for the playoffs, so that is a huge plus. But, the Senators are going in very hot with their late-season surge and the story of goaltender Andrew Hammond and rookies Mark Stone and Mike Hoffman. Carey Price might have to steal this one for Montreal. It is definitely going seven, but for now:

Prediction: Senators in 7

 

Detroit Red Wings vs. Tampa Bay Lightning

Detroit is a tough out in the playoffs and the story-lines in this series will be former Red Wing great and captain Steve Yzerman, now the general manager of the Lightning, against his former team and boss Ken Holland. However, the Lightning offense and a healthy Ben Bishop will help them prevail.

Prediction: Lightning in 7 

 

Western Conference

 

Anaheim Ducks vs. Winnipeg Jets

There are qestions in goal for both teams as we open this series. But, the Jets making the playoffs is a huge deal in Winnipeg. The story-line here will be former Ducks and Jets great Teemu Selanne in this series. But, I think the Ducks are too much despite the Jets being the tallest team in the NHL.

Prediction: Ducks in 6

 

Chicago Blackhawks vs. Nashville Predators

Both teams are coming in very inconsistent. The Hawks will have to survive this series, if they can find a way to win without top scorer Patrick Kane. Nashville righted the ship a little at the end, but can they be consistent? This is a tough one.

Prediction: Blackhawks in 7

 

Calgary Flames vs. Vancouver Canucks

Fierce Western Canadian rivals going at it. Will we have a line brawl to open up one of the games? Possibly :), well if John Tortorella was coaching Vancouver. But, I like Calgary’s youth in Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, Kris Russell and T.J. Brodie in this series over the Canucks’ experience in Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin, Alex Edler and Radim Vrbata. Also, Calgary has a huge edge in the coaching category in Bob Hartley, who coached the Colorado Avalanche to the 2001 Stanley Cup Championship. For now:

Prediction: Flames in 7

 

St. Louis Blues vs. Minnesota Wild

I think this is the year St. Louis finally gets over the hump in Round 1, and they have less question marks than the Wild.

Prediction: Blues in 6 

 

Photo Cred (NHL.com)

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