Stanley Cup playoffs predictions: Volume 1
It's that time of year I always look forward to, the Stanley Cup playoffs. Two months of intense hockey. I love it.
Last year, my Philadelphia Flyers made it to the Eastern Conference finals before losing to the Pittsburgh Penguins. The two teams meet again, this time in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals starting Wednesday.
So, it's time for my second annual Stanley Cup playoff predictions, beginning with the conference quarterfinals.
Montreal Canadiens vs. Boston Bruins: This is a rematch of last year's first-round series in which the Canadiens won in seven games. Last year, the Canadiens were the top seed, while the Bruins were the eighth seed. The roles are reversed this year. And so will the result. Bruins in 5.
New York Rangers vs. Washington Capitals: If the Rangers want to win this series, they should watch a tape of last year's series between the Flyers and Capitals. The Flyers did a great job in limiting Alexander Ovechkin scoring goals, and won the series in seven games.
The Capitals have a big advantage on scoring, with Ovechkin and defenseman Mike Green. The Rangers have the better goaltending in Henrik Lundqvist. But that may not be enough for the Rangers to pull off the upset. Capitals in 6.
Carolina Hurricanes vs. New Jersey Devils: Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur missed most of the season because of elbow surgery. The Devils proved that they could play without him, and ended up winning the Atlantic Division.
Brodeur came back late in the season, and he should be well rested to take on the Hurricanes, who played well down the stretch. But that won't carry over into the playoffs. Devils in 5.
Philadelphia Flyers vs. Pittsburgh Penguins: The Flyers one point on Sunday against the Rangers to clinch fourth place and home ice against the Penguins. Instead, the Flyers blew three one-goal leads and lost, 4-3, putting them on the road for the first round.
I haven't liked the way the Flyers have played down the stretch. The Penguins were hot. On a conference call Monday, NBC and Versus analyst Eddie Olczyk thought it was good that the Flyers are opening on the road. I would like to agree with that, but I don't know. However, my heart and loyalties won't let me pick against the Flyers. Flyers in 6.
Anaheim Ducks vs. San Jose Sharks: The Sharks had a great regular season, winning the Presidents' Trophy for having the league's best record. But the big question for the Sharks is if they can finally advance past the second round of the playoffs, which they haven't done.
And now, they get to face their rival from Southern California, the Ducks. The Ducks are two years removed from their Stanley Cup title. They didn't have a great season. The Ducks will give the Sharks a tough time, but won't win. Sharks in 6.
Columbus Blue Jackets vs. Detroit Red Wings: The Red Wings are the defending Stanley Cup champions. The Blue Jackets are making their first playoff appearance.
Even though Detroit's goaltending has been inconsistent, this series won't be much of a contest. Red Wings in 5.
St. Louis Blues vs. Vancouver Canucks: In February, the Blues were at the bottom of the Western Conference. Despite numerous injuries, they managed not only to make the playoffs, but finished sixth in the conference.
Meanwhile, the Canucks got hot and took advantage of the fading Calgary Flames to win the Northwest Division.
This should be a fun series. Canucks in 7.
Chicago Blackhawks vs. Calgary Flames: The Flames stumble down the stretch, turning a sure division title into a second-place finish in the Northwest. Now, they draw the Chicago Blackhawks, who haven't been in the playoffs for a long time.
I have a feeling this is going to be a nasty series. The Blackhawks may not have the playoff experience the Flames do, but I have a feeling that the excitement of being in the playoffs will help them win this series. Blackhawks in 6.
I like to hear what you think of my picks. You can make your picks in the comment section.