The NHL Playoffs are back, and should be just as exciting this year as they are every year. There are plenty of great match-ups and story lines coming into the first round, and that should make for a great start to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The first series is the Chicago Blackhawks and the Minnesota Wild. The Hawks are the #1 seed in the West and The Wild are the #8 seed. The Hawks have dominated the west all season long and look to continue their domination in the first round. The Wild aren’t to be taken lightly though. This will be a tough series, and if the Wild can match the Hawks speed and physicality, they have a shot. My prediction, Blackhawks in 6.
The second series in the West is the Detroit Redwings and the Anaheim Ducks. The Ducks are the #2 seed and the Wings are the #7 seed. The Wings are a very experienced team that has made the playoffs, seemingly every year, but with the loss of all time great, Nicklas Lidstrom, they have struggled defensively. The Ducks have surprised many this season, finishing second in the conference, and will continue their success in the first round. My Prediction, Ducks in 5.
The third series in the West is the #3 seed Vancouver Canucks and the #6 seed San Jose Sharks. This is a very interesting matchup with two very even teams, the Canucks are only the third seed because they won their division, the two teams records are very similar. If the Canucks goaltending shows up, I think they can take this series. The only problem is, I don’t think it will show up. My prediction, Sharks in 5.
The fourth series in the West is the #4 seed St. Louis Blues and the #5 seed and defending Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings. The Kings are looking to repeat and win another Stanley Cup, the only problem is that they face a very strong Blues team, that can put the puck in the net like it is nobodies business. My prediction, Blues in 6.
The first series in the East is the #1 seed Pittsburgh Penguins and the #8 seed New York Islanders. The Penguins dominated the East the entire year, including a 15 game winning streak spanning the month of march. The Islanders however squeaked into the playoffs for the first time in 4 years. If the Penguins can get healthy, this should be a short series. My prediction, Penguins in 5.
The second series in the East is the #2 seed Montreal Canadiens and the #7 seed Ottawa Senators. The Canadiens started off the season on fire, after finishing in the bottom of the league last season, their only issue was they finished the season with a string of losses. The Senators are a physical team that, if they get hot, could steal a series. My prediction, Canadiens in 7.
The third series in the East is the # 3 seed Washington Capitals and the #6 seed New York Rangers. The Caps started the season off horribly and found themselves in the bottom portion of the standings, until Star Alex Ovechkin decided to put the team on his back and bring them into the playoffs. The Rangers who won the conference last season had a tough year, but still managed to make the playoffs. My prediction is the capitals continue their winning ways and win the series in 5 games.
The fourth and final series in the east is the #4 seed Boston Bruins and the #5 seed Toronto Maple Leafs. The Bruins are a team that won the cup a couple of years ago, but in my opinion don’t seem to be as good as their record shows, and they haven’t played well as of late, they are a team that is primed for an upset. The leafs made the playoffs for the first time in almost 10 years, and will be coming up blazing looking to upset the Bruins. My prediction, Leafs in 7.
This first round should definitely be a crazy one full of big hits, goals, and plenty of upsets. Buckle up, it’s playoff time!