NHL Playoff Predictions: Round 1

In the past I’ve jokingly commented that I do better with these predictions the less I follow hockey.  If that’s true, then this year I should have a banner year, since I think I’ve watched less than ten games the entire season, and most of those were games that I had on for noise while doing other things.  This is because hockey games tend to be on at times that I can’t watch and there were other things on to watch other than watching a couple of teams that I don’t care about play.  At any rate, yeah, I haven’t really been paying attention this year, which may be a boon for my predictions.  Then again, I went 6 – 9 last year and wasn’t paying much attention, so maybe my lack of attention isn’t going to help.

Eastern Conference:

Washington vs Florida:  It’s always risky picking the top seed, especially one that hasn’t done that well in the past, because they manage to get upset a significant amount of the time in the modern NHL.  Favourites quite often falter, and often do so quite early.  However, Florida had a great season and seems to have a good team, and Ovechkin might have injury problems and Washington can’t really get anywhere without him.  So I’m going to go with the “favourite” here.

Boston vs Carolina:  Boston has had a bit of an up-and-down season this year, which might suggest that they have some weaknesses that can be exploited.  Carolina has had a pretty good season but hasn’t had the same success in the playoffs that their seasons would suggest, and so might still need to learn how to play in the playoffs.  This is a close one, so I’ll give Carolina the nod since they do seem to be a team that has the work ethic, at least, to match Boston’s.

Tampa Bay vs Toronto:  Given their shocking lack of success over their last few playoff runs, it’s pretty easy to think that Toronto is not going to do much this year either, and it doesn’t help that they are playing a team that has had great playoff success over the past couple of seasons and so clearly knows how to win in the playoffs.  On the other hand, one of the reasons for the lack of dynasties in the NHL is that teams that win the Cup have to play a lot of hockey late in the year and so eventually end up running out of gas, and Toronto has had a great season from a lot of their stars.  However, it doesn’t look like Toronto has really fixed their main issues, such as reliable, proven goaltending, defense, and worse a lack of depth.  You need depth in the playoffs and Toronto’s depth isn’t all that deep, so I’ll go with Tampa Bay.

Pittsburgh vs Rangers:  The Rangers have had a good season and seem like they have a good team, but you can’t count out the experience of Pittsburgh, and the Rangers are a developing team that might need to learn how to win in the playoffs.  This could be close, but I’ll give the nod to Pittsburgh here.

Western Conference:

Nashville vs Colorado:  Colorado faces the same issues as the other top teams:  a great regular season and a great one last season as well but they haven’t yet have the playoff success that proves that they can play in the playoffs.  That being said, the talent is indeed clearly there in Colorado and Nashville didn’t have a good season, so the talent should win out.  But given NHL history it might not, but I’ll go with the talent here.

Dallas vs Calgary:  This is getting a bit repetitive, but Calgary had a great season but hasn’t proven that they can win in the playoffs.  They probably won’t get outcoached, however, given Darryl Sutter is back behind the bench, and I imagine that he can motivate them enough to get them one series win, at least.  Sure, again, unproven teams with great seasons often don’t go very far, but I’ll give the coach the nod here and go with Calgary.

St. Louis vs Minnesota:  This might be the closest of all the series, as they were fighting it out for home ice advantage until pretty much the last day.  Given that, and that the teams haven’t been terribly impressive in the playoffs over the past few seasons, I think I’ll just go with home ice advantage here.

Los Angeles vs Edmonton:  Edmonton has the same problem that Toronto has:  a lack of playoff success and a lack of depth.  Eventually, teams learn how to play in the playoffs and so have success, but I don’t think that Edmonton has learned that yet and also don’t think they have the depth to go deep and possibly to even win a series.

Summary:

Eastern Conference:

Washington vs Florida Correct
Boston vs Carolina Correct
Tampa Bay vs Toronto Correct
Pittsburgh vs Rangers Incorrect

Western Conference:

Nashville vs Colorado Correct
Dallas vs Calgary Correct
St. Louis vs Minnesota Incorrect
Los Angeles vs Edmonton Incorrect

Overall Record:  5 – 3
Home Ice Advantage Record:  6 – 2

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