Monday, April 13, 2009

Stanley Cup Playoffs: First Round Predictions

The Stanley Cup Playoffs are here! It's one of my favorite times of the year, so I thought I would share my predictions for the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. I will have a more in-depth preview of the Flyers series tomorrow.

Eastern Conference:
(1) Boston vs. (8) Montreal
Boston in 6
Oddly, the Bruins and Canadiens faced off in the first round last year but their seeds were reversed. These two teams are huge rivals so that could make for a pretty good series, and while I do think that Boston is due for an early fall, the Canadiens are too dysfunctional and don't have anyone who can stop the puck.

(2)Washington vs. (7) New York
Washington in 5
The Rangers are lucky to even be in the playoffs, they won just enough games early in the season that they were able to hold on in the end despite playing terrible hockey down the stretch. The Capitals offense is already electric so just watch what happens when they get to skate circles around the Rangers weak defense. If Henrik Lundqvist stands on his head, the Rangers could stretch this series out.

(3) New Jersey vs. (6) Carolina
New Jersey in 6
The Hurricanes are one of the hottest teams in hockey but the Devils are one of the most consistent. It's remarkable that New Jersey was able to win the Atlantic Division with Marty Brodeur out for a chunk of the season. They might win a few early but Carolina isn't physical enough to hang with the Devils in a long series.

(4) Pittsburgh vs. (5) Philadelphia
Philadelphia in 7
This one should be the best series in the first round, and I'm not saying that just because I am a Flyers fan. These two teams despise one another and after the Eastern Conference Finals last season and 6 games this year, there is plenty of bad blood to go around. The series will really be a tale of the Flyers depth versus the Penguins two scorers. Depth always wins over a couple of stars in the NHL playoffs, so I like the Flyers in a long, tough series. More on this series to come.

Western Conference:
(1) San Jose vs. (8) Anaheim
San Jose in 7
The Sharks reward for getting the number one seed in the West is a killer matchup with the Ducks. Anaheim is built for the playoffs with plenty of strength and experience and the exciting young forwards Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. San Jose can play any style, though, and while they tend to fizzle in the playoffs, the Sharks will find a way to push their way past the Ducks.

(2) Detroit vs. (7) Columbus
Detroit in 5
The Red Wings are the safest pick of any team to get past the first round. Columbus is simply just not good enough and they are just happy to be in the playoffs. The Wings are scary deep and are my pick to win the Cup. Again.

(3) Vancouver vs. (6) St. Louis
Vancouver in 6
St. Louis is a great story of how far they have come to fight their way into the playoffs, but the story ends here. The Canucks, with solid forwards, a deep group of defensemen and an elite goaltender, are too good all-around to lose in the first round. The wild card in this series is Mats Sundin, who hasn't seen the playoffs in what seems like a decade. There is no telling what he is going to do.

(4) Chicago vs. (5) Calgary
Calgary in 6
The Flames really bolstered themselves at the trade deadline when they acquired Olli Jokinen and Jordan Leopold. They are going for broke, and while it might get them out of the first round, I don't see them getting past Detroit or San Jose. The Blackhawks are a good, young team, you shouldn't feel too sorry for Jonathan Toews or Patrick Kane when they get eliminated, they are going to be in the playoff mix for the next decade.

Those are my picks for the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Check back tomorrow for a more complete breakdown of the Flyers/Penguins series.


GaroH said...

On the East: I think Boston is too strong to let it go to 6. Agreed on Washington, though I wouldn't be surprised with a sweep. NJ has an edge over Carolina, I like your pick in 6. But I think if the Flyers/Pens series goes deep, you have to acknowledge the Flyers' inconsistency from game to game... how will they fare in a 7 game series? We've seen how hoping that they're "get up for an important game" doesn't work all this past week. As much as it pains me, I think they exit in game 7.

allthingsphilly said...

It's tough to pick any upsets in either conference, the top teams look too strong. I can't disagree with your Penguins pick, GaroH, we have no idea which Flyers team will show up from game to game

Anonymous said...

You are right on the money with the Red Wings. Too much of everything for any team to have all the answers. Osgood will be just fine despite a uncharacteristic season. If all the stars align, the Bruins can have their hats handed to them from a 1st class organization.