NHL Playoff Predictions: Round 1

And, yet again, I put on my prognosticator’s cap and try to predict who will win what series. I heard a quote from some coach that this year there are no favourites, which ought to make these predictions … interesting, to say the least. So, without further ado, here are my predictions for the first round.

Eastern Conference

Washington vs Philadelphia: The team that finishes first overall almost never wins the Stanley Cup. Philadelphia had to go on a bit of a run to just make the playoffs, but they did stumble a bit at the end. Washington, however, has disappointed before in the playoffs. That being said, it’s hard to bet against a team that has been that dominant the entire season and has one of the best players in the game.

Prediction: Washington

Pittsburgh vs Rangers: Pittsburgh started slow but has surged over the last few months of the season, overtaking teams to not only make the playoffs, but to finish second in the Metropolitan division, ahead of the two New York teams. But they’ve had some injury troubles of late, most importantly to Fleury, their number one goaltender. The Rangers’ biggest injury woe is Eric Staal, who was brought in as a supplemental player, and so isn’t as big a loss. So there are doubts around Pittsburgh. If Fleury comes back and doesn’t struggle, Pittsburgh has a good chance. But if he doesn’t, Lundqvist will carry the day. Going with the odds, I’m going with the Rangers.

Prediction: Rangers

Tampa Bay vs Detroit: They’re baaaaack. Tampa Bay and Detroit face each other again in the first round. Detroit, though, was lucky to just continue their streak of playoff appearances (it’s now at 25); they aren’t likely to make it through the first round.

Prediction: Tampa Bay

Florida vs Islanders: The Islanders kinda backed into the playoffs, and Florida had a great season, and Jagr has been there before. With that veteran leadership, the Islanders will be in very tough in this series.

Prediction: Florida

Western Conference

Dallas vs Minnesota: I don’t think that Dallas has any big injuries, and they had a great season. Minnesota is a good team and can force the upset, but I don’t think they’re playing any better than Dallas is right now. So I’ll give this one to Dallas.

(Yes, this is, in fact, my prediction for the St. Louis/Minnesota series last year, with Dallas subbed in for St. Louis [grin]).

Prediction: St. Louis Dallas

St. Louis vs Chicago: St Louis has been disappointing people in the playoffs for years now. Is this the year that they finally stop doing that? Chicago kinda backed into the playoffs as well, and St. Louis is on a roll. However, it’s hard to bet against the Stanley Cup Champions. On the other hand, they won it last year, so this is their year off, so they might as well just lose now and get it over with.

Prediction: St. Louis

Anaheim vs Nashville: Anaheim, after a slow start, has really come on over the past few months, finishing much higher than anyone expected. They just beat Washington in the last game of the season, and don’t seem to have any serious injuries. Nashville probably doesn’t have a chance.

Prediction: Anaheim

L.A. vs San Jose: This one should be very close, but L.A. just has the experience and talent to lean on here, and San Jose, again, tends to disappoint in the playoffs.

Prediction: L.A.

Summary

Eastern Conference

Washington vs Philadelphia Correct
Pittsburgh vs Rangers Incorrect
Tampa Bay vs Detroit Correct
Florida vs Islanders Incorrect

Western Conference

Dallas vs Minnesota Correct
St. Louis vs Chicago Correct
Anaheim vs Nashville Incorrect
L.A. vs San Jose Incorrect

Overall Record: 4 – 4

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