NHL – Opening Round Playoff Predictions

11 Apr

The Stanley Cup playoffs, minus the Buffalo Sabres, begin tonight. This year’s playoffs include only 2 teams from Canada, Vancouver and Ottawa. Traditional hockey-crazed towns like Montreal, Toronto and Edmonton are out this year, while Nashville, Phoenix and Florida are in. The opening round includes some interesting matchups, and here are my predictions for those series:

Ottawa vs. New York Rangers – this has been a terrific season for the Blueshirts, but they’d better be careful against the Senators, a team perfectly capable of knocking them out in the first round. I see this series going at least 6 games, but New York should win due to the superior goaltending of Henrik Lundqvist.

Boston vs. Washington – this may be the most one-sided series of the opening round, and I could easily see the defending champion Bruins sweeping. The Capitals had to spend a lot of energy just to get into the tounament. Boston will win, and I don’t see this going more than 5 games.

Pittsburgh vs. Philadelphia – unlike the Bruins-Capitals matchup, this series may be the most competitive of the opening round. The Penguins have a stronger overall roster, including getting Sidney Crosby back from injury, and Philly still doesn’t have its’ goaltending squared away. I’ll go with Pittsburgh in 6 games.

Florida vs. New Jersey – critics are saying the Devils, by finishing sixth in the conference, drew an easier matchup than the Penguins and Flyers, but they’ll be surprised by the young Panthers. Florida wins a hard-fought seven game series.

Vancouver vs. Los Angeles – the Canucks proved they are a solid franchise this year, following up last year’s Stanley Cup Finals trip by winning the President’s Trophy as the top club in the regular season. Their goaltender, Roberto Luongo, can get shaky, however, and for that reason I’ll pick Vancouver to win the series in 6 games.

St. Louis vs. San Jose – the Blues had a great year under coach Ken Hitchcock, and San Jose is notorious for playoff failures, but St. Louis faltered late in the year, and the Sharks have an experienced club, and did have some playoff success last year, getting the loser monkey off their backs somewhat. San Jose wins in 6 games.

Phoenix vs. Chicago – the Coyotes are a surprising third seed, mostly on the strength of goaltender Mike Smith, but this is a matchup of a high seed against a lower seed with more playoff experience. The Black Hawks won the Cup just 2 seasons ago, and will tough out a seven game series win here.

Nashville vs. Detroit – this is similar to the Phoenix-Chicago matchup, with the Predators being the higher seed against a playoff-tested Red Wing team. Nashville has the edge in goaltending, but the Wings should win in 6 games.



Posted in Hockey

  1. JN

    April 25, 2012 at 1:55 pm

    Good predictions for series opponents. MAYBE Florida, NY and Boston win but you have gotten all the others dead wrong. Vancouver, San Jose, Detroit, Chicago and Pittsburgh are ALL eliminated.

  2. Louise

    April 12, 2012 at 11:59 am

    Wish the Sabres were in this. Have to wait until next year!