5 Canadian teams, unreal. At the start of the season it was likely 1, MAYBE 2 (Vancouver) that would get in. I’m proud to say I had the Sens getting in, and I’m not afraid to say that I fully thought they were done like everyone on the planet did when they were 14 out on February 10th. Shocking. The Flames, shocking. The Jets, shocking. But they’re all in, and the playoffs are a even better when you have Canadian buildings getting their roofs blown off.
This has potential to be an incredible playoffs once again. Door couldn’t be any more open than it is for just about anyone to win it all. Some incredible first round matchups and it’s going to be another fun 2 months!
Anaheim (1st in Pacific) vs Winnipeg (2nd wildcard)
Something just hasn’t felt right about the Ducks all season. They ended up 3rd overall, they got that elite 2nd line center that they needed last summer, the D is a year older, I should like them against a franchise playing in only their 2nd playoff series ever and have yet to win a playoff game. I SHOULD. But I don’t. I like the Jets to win maybe more than anyone else believe it or not. They got a great blueline who could give Getzlaf and Perry a ton of problems. They got the big bodies up front that will give the young Ducks blueline fits and wear them down. And if Pavelec can keep up his play, they have unreal goaltending. Oh and lets not forget, that crowd in Winnipeg is going to be INSANE.
Jets in 6
Vancouver (2nd in Pacific) vs Calgary (3rd in Pacific)
Like most, I’m still stunned the Flames are in this spot. I don’t believe the Flames are SO much more hardworking than everyone as the media will have you believe, but I do think they work their bags off and everyone is having a career year…EVERYONE. This is the Flames season. If you believe in destiny, you believe in the Flames. But I like the Canucks in this series. I think making the playoffs was the Flames Cup, and I know the Canucks have loads more experience than Calgary does. Doesn’t mean I don’t think the Flames can win this series, absolutely they can. But I don’t believe they will.
Canucks in 7
St. Louis (1st in Central) vs Minnesota (1st wildcard)
This is the toughest series for me to pick. The Blues are the better team. But the Wild are hotter. The Wild also have the better goaltending. But Dubnyk has zero playoff experience. The Blues lost to the Hawks in 6 last year. So did the Wild. In the end, I believe what is going to happen is that they Blues will wear down the Wild. While I really don’t like Brian Elliott or Jake Allen in goal and can’t figure out why the Blues didn’t address their goaltending, but I think this team is good enough and now experienced enough to over come that and get passed Minny, but this will be a tough series.
Blues in 6
Nashville (2nd in Central) vs Chicago (3rd in Central)
I didn’t have much trouble picking this one, which probably means the opposite will happen. But the Preds haven’t been good in the second half of this season. Rinne has come back down to earth, so has James Neal, I like the blueline moving forward but I don’t like it that much right now. And I HATE how the Preds matchup with the Hawks down the middle. Quenville can throw out either of his top 2 lines and they’ll give any Nashville line fits. Preds win the goaltending matchup, but I believe Rinne will have to stand on his head for the Preds to have any shot in this series
Hawks in 5
Montreal (1st in Atlantic) vs Ottawa (1st wildcard)
Montreal is better pretty much across the board. Experience, speed, between the pipes. But the Sens own the Habs. And Andrew Hammond is playing out of his skull right now. Lets not BS anyone though, the Sens aren’t playing that well. They’re an amazing story, but much like the Flames in the West the Sens seemingly got every single bounce possible to help them along. I think they’ll make it a good series, but I don’t think they’ll pull the upset
Habs in 6
Tampa Bay (2nd in Atlantic) vs Detroit (3rd in Atlantic)
Much like the Preds, the Wings haven’t been too good in the 2nd half of this season. I just think so many of their key guys are old now and simply wear down over the course of the season. Last year I had them to upset the Bruins but what happened was they emptied their tank to get in the playoffs. I think once again their tank might be empty. The only thing I don’t like about the Lightning is experience. But they have the goaltending, have the offense, have the number 1 horse on the blueline, and they’re maybe the fastest team in the league. Should be a good series. Wonder if Steve Yzerman will get mentioned….
Lightning in 7
NY Rangers (1st in Metropolitan) vs Pittsburgh (2nd wildcard)
No chance the Pens pull this off. They are extremely flawed, beat up, limped into this playoff spot, rely on Sid to do far too much of the heavy lifting which limits his offensive abilities, and the Rangers might be the most well balanced team in the league. Rangers got them in 7 last year, I don’t see it going nearly that long this time around, and it’s rare that there isn’t at least one sweep in the first round.
Washington (2nd in Metropolitan) vs NY Islanders (3rd in Metropolitan)
This is going to be a damn fun series to watch! I’m expecting it to be high scoring, physical and intense. But having said that I just don’t like the matchup for the Islanders. I’ve gotten burned a lot picking the Caps in the past, so they make me real nervous. And as good of a coach Barry Trotz has been, his playoff track record isn’t great. Still, I’ll take them at least to win this series, and unfortunately for fans, I think we’ll only get 2 games of the amazing Islanders crowd.
Caps in 5
Ok, so that’s the 1st round. But who do I have winning everything? I know you’re on the edge of your seat with anticipation…
Western Conference Champs
Even though Kane’s status remains up in the air, I love the Hawks. Vermette is such a valuable player for them to have acquired, as they’ve never had a real good 2nd line center. And it does sound like Kane will be back possibly in this first round. So with no LA, and the Blues still with no goaltending, I think the door is open for the Hawks to get back to the final, but I’m leery of a team who have played so much hockey the last 2 seasons. As a side note, I believe it’ll be the Jets they knock off in the conference final.
Eastern Conference Champs
I have no clue. I can make the case against every Eastern team. Habs don’t have much experience, Rangers made it through last year and are likely to wear down this year, Tampa is really inexperienced, Detroit is too old, Caps aren’t trustworthy, Isles are too flawed. I’m going to say the Canadiens, but I don’t trust this pick at all.
Stanley Cup Champs
I’m going with the Blackhawks, but this year more than any I can remember I believe the door is WIDE ASS OPEN. Here is literally the list of teams I believe can win it all: St. Louis, Chicago, Minny, Vancouver, Winnipeg, NY Rangers, Montreal, Tampa, Washington. 9 of 16 can win the Cup in my mind. 9. So I’m basically picking from that group. I do like the Hawks better than all of them, but I question how much gas they’ll have in the tank.
Hawks in 6 to win the Cup
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