NHL Playoff Prediction Thread
The NHL regular season has ended which means it is time for playoff hockey. This thread will be dedicated to predicting the NHL playoffs round by round.
Vancouver vs LA- Iím taking the Canucks in 4. The Kings have a lot of talent but Vancouver is hot going into the playoffs. My only concern with Vancouver is the mental state of Roberto Luongo. He struggled at times during the playoffs last year and with the way Cory Schneider has played this season, Luongo will be on a short leash.
St Louis vs San Jose- Iíve got St Louis in 5. The Blues arenít going to wow you with anything but they are second in the NHL in home wins and they lead the NHL in least goals against. The Sharks are having a bad year and I think this is a bad match up for them.
Phoenix vs Chicago- Give me the Blackhawks in 7. This will be a long, tough series but I think Chicago just has the more talented team. The Coyotes have won 5 straight going into the playoffs so it wonít be easy but the Blackhawks have too much offensive fire power.
Nashville vs Detroit- This is another series I see going 7 and Iím picking the Red Wings. Detroit is finally starting to get healthy and they obviously have the experience factor. These teams are very evenly matched and this may be the best first round series.
NY Rangers vs Ottawa- Iím going with the Rangers in 5. Ottawa has a very good offensive team but they are going against an elite goaltender in Henrik Lundqvist. The Senators will find a way to win one but the Rangers are just the better team.
Boston vs Washington- Iíve got the Bruins in 6. Any time you are going against Alexander Ovechkin it isnít going to be easy but the Bruins are too physical for the Capitals. The defending champions are a veteran team and will take care of the underachieving Capitals.
Florida vs New Jersey- Definitely taking the Devils in 4. Florida may be the 3 seed but New Jersey is the superior team. The Panthers have the least amount of ROWís of all the 16 playoff teams and they have lost 5 of 6 going into the playoffs. On the flip side New Jersey has won 6 straight and Martin Broudeur is hot going into the playoffs. Brodeur turns 40 on May 6th and I see him still in the playoffs on his birthday.
Pittsburgh vs Philadelphia- This is a tough one but Iím taking Pitt in 7. Just like the 4 vs 5 matchup in the West, this is going to be a great series. Both teams know each other extremely well as division rivals and both teams have a ton of talent. The deciding factor for me is Pitt having home ice advantage for a potential game 7. They lead the Eastern Conference in home wins.
That gives me second round match ups of Vancouver/Chicago, St Louis/Detroit, NY Rangers/New Jersey, and Boston/Pittsburgh
Vancouver vs LA- Vancouver simply has too much all-around talent for the Kings right now, I like LA, they've got a great nucleus of fairly young guys that will only get better, but they're simply not in Vancouver's class. However, unlike what would usually be the case when playing Vancouver, the Kings have the better goaltender in Jonathan Quick. It won't be enough, but I could see him stealing a game or two, especially if Luongo isn't on top of his game. Still, this Vancouver team is good enough to beat you 5-4 if need be, and they'll make fairly short work of the Kings, who blew getting the 3 seed in the season's final days. Canucks in 5.
St Louis vs San Jose- San Jose is hot at right now, but they're such an up and down team that it's really hard to get behind them in any meaningful way. They won't face the "pressure" of being a favorite this year, which might bode well in their favor. To me, this Blues team is too consistent defensively to really allow San Jose to get on track offensively over the course of the series. One concern for St Louis is their lack of scoring, as their leading scorers TJ Oshie, and David Backes, had less points(54) then Steven Stamkos had goals. You have to figure that having the 21st ranked offense will bite them somewhere, but Halak/Elliott combined with an opportunistic lineup that can grind a team to a halt will be enough here. Ill take the Blues in 6.
Phoenix vs Chicago- I love what Phoenix has done over the last few weeks of the season to not only get into the playoffs, but win the divison. The Blackhawks do have enough scoring to beat Phoenix even if Jonathan Toews is unavailable Even if Jonathan Toews isn't available, this team can score enough to beat Phoenix, who like St Louis and L.A, don't have enough firepower to be a serious Cup contender.
On the converse, no playoff team other then Ottawa has given up more goals then the Blackhawks. Although the Coyotes have the 5th best GAA in the NHL, Ill take the 'Hawks explosive offensive that sits at 6th overall in the NHL in a tight series. Blackhawks in 7.
Nashville vs Detroit- Other then Penguins/Flyers, this could be the best series of the first round. Like with Pens/Flyers, this is a hard luck matchup between two teams that deserve better in a first round matchup, but it is what it is. Detroit is better overall both offensively and defensively then Nashville is by the numbers, although injuries have put a damper on what once looked like another year of Detroit dominating the West. Still, I think they're the better team, even if records ever so slightly indicate otherwise. They have the experience factor of guys who have done it before. I'll take the Wings in 7.
NY Rangers vs Ottawa- I won't be surprised be surprised if Ottawa doesn't wins a game here. Although they've shown they can score goals, the Rangers are one of the NHL's best defensive clubs, starting with Henrik Lundqvist. The goalie matchup of Lundqvist/Anderson is rediculously lopsided here, and the Rangers roll 4 lines as well as anybody. They aren't a terribly potent club, but they're certainly capable of turning in up when they need to. I don't see them failing to do so against the worst defensive club of all playoff teams. Rangers in 4.
Boston vs Washington- The Capitals certainly hit their stride as the season came to a close, but they're a mess. How much can they count on Mike Green and Nicklas Backstrom? Green hasn't been the same player since he returned from injury. The Bruins drew a favorable matchup in the Caps and the winner of the Panthers/Devils series, and I dont see the defending champs being one and done here. In a tighter series then most will think, Ill take the Bruins in 7.
Florida vs New Jersey- This series is everything I hate about the NHL seeding system. Instead of rewarding teams with the most points, division winners automatically get the higher seed.In this case, it's the malingering Panthers, who had opened up a huge lead in a terrible division, only to have to win their final game of the season to back their way into a division title with 94 points. That won't be good enough against New Jersey, who has won 6 in a row and has a decent amount of firepower, led by Ilya Kovalchuk, and still plays a responsible defensive system. Jose Theodore vs Martin Brodeur- even with Brodeur at 40- isn't much of a matchup in net, The Panthers are a nice story with their first playoff berth in 11 years, but they won't last long. Devils in 6.
Pittsburgh vs Philadelphia- The homer in me wants to say Pens in 4 and be done with it, but that's clearly not going to be the case here. The Penguins and Flyers match up better then perhaps any teams in the NHL, and the argument could be made for this being the NHL's best rivalry. I will take the Pens and their 1-2 punch of Crosby and Malkin alongside legitimate scoring linemates, something the Pens have been looking for years to get for both. Philadelphia's goal tending situation is somewhat unknown with Bryzgalof's foot injury, and Marc Andre Fleury is about as consistent as they come. I see this being a hard-fought, close series, but the Penguins simply have more, at least on paper. They hadn't won against the Flyers at home over the past 2 years, but hopefully that first win there Saturday will give them that momentum. I think it will. Pens in 7.
My second round match ups are Vancouver/Chicago, St Louis/Detroit, NY Rangers/New Jersey, and Boston/Pittsburgh.
(1)Vancouver vs (8)Los Angeles : They have a lot to prove after being humbled by the Bruins in the Stanley Cup Finals last season, so I think the Canucks will be hungry to exorcise their demons from last season. However, lots of controversy between the pipes, and a tougher Kings team than some people give them credit for. This one will be more competitive than some guys think. Canucks in 7
(2) St. Louis vs (7) San Jose: The Blues had a terrific season and seriously challenged for the President's Trophy. However, I remain unconvinced. The window may be closing on San Jose, but I don't believe it has shut quite yet. Sharks in 7
(3) Phoenix vs (6) Chicago: My prediction all season has been for the BlackHawks to win the Western Conference, so I will stick with them. Phoenix will be unable to hang with the younger and more talented Hawks. This one will be short and sweet, in the swan song in the desert. For Coyotes fans who live in the desert, I hope you have a cable TV package which features action from Quebec City for next season. BlackHawks in 5
(4) Nashville vs (5) Detroit: Rinne versus Father Time. Advantage, Rinne. Age has finally caught up with the Wings, and I think they will fall to the younger and hungrier Preds. Nashville has been good for a couple of seasons now, and it's their time, at least in this round. Predators in 6
(1) New York vs (8) Ottawa: New York is limping into the post season in a lukewarm and unimpressive fashion. But they are still a very strong team with solid goaltending. Ottawa isn't and doesn't. Rangers in 5
(2) Boston vs (7)Washington: Come on now, check the username! The defending champions, hitting their stride entering the post season, versus a team who is very fortunate to even be there and a team with all kinds of questions swirling around them. Alex who? Bruins in 4
(3) Florida vs (6) New Jersey: Usually, the number 3 seed is favored and for the number 6 seed to win, it's considered an upset. In this case, however, the number 6 seed will win easily and it will hardly be an upset. An aging Brodeur should be more than enough to halt the overachieving Panthers. Devils in 5
(4) Pittsburgh vs (5) Philadelphia: This should be a long, drawn out, physical affair, with plenty of bad blood, tension, and drama. For obvious reasons, I hope this one goes seven games of double overtime or longer ;) In the end, though, the better and more balanced team should prevail. Penguins in 7
As I see it, this sets up Vancouver/San Jose and Nashville/Chicago in the second round out west, with New York/ New Jersey and Boston/Pittsburgh in the east.
For the record, if there are any staff members out there who wish to make things a little more interesting, I'd certainly be willing to discuss it :)
1 NEW YORK RANGERS v. 8 OTTAWA SENATORS - I am a big Rangers fan, and I'm trying not to be overconfident, but it's hard not to be, when you have King Henrik in goal, and a top-notch defense. Hopefully the power play stays on their mini roll as well. Ottawa has some big names, but they are lacking severely where the Rangers have strength. Rangers in 5
2 BOSTON BRUINS v. 7 WASHINGTON CAPITALS - I like how Washington pulled it together to make the playoffs, but their goaltending woes can't be overlooked. Boston has been even hotter than they were, and will expose their shortcomings. Bruins in 4
3 FLORIDA PANTHERS v. 6 NEW JERSEY DEVILS - Like the Red Wings, the Devils have aged. OK, maybe not the entire team, but their netminder has. Unfortunately for Florida, he's one of (if not) the best goaltenders of all time, and his experience rules here. Florida finally has the hype of winning the Southeast, and finally getting back to the playoffs, but their road ends here. Devils in 5
4 PITTSBURGH PENGUINS v. 5 PHILADELPHIA FLYERS - The match-up everyone seems to be looking forward to. Philadelphia was largely overlooked this season, due to Bryzgalov under-performing his contract, and the simple fact that the Rangers and Penguins stole every headline the Atlantic had to offer. Giroux is outstanding, and Hartnell had a solid season, but can either of them duplicate those results now, when it matters? Can Bryzgalov step up, and stay hot? No matter what the answers are, sadly, the Penguins still sport the MVP, the crybaby, and a stellar supporting cast. Should be great to watch, and hard-fought. Penguins in 7
1 VANCOUVER CANUCKS v. 8 LOS ANGELES KINGS - This is an interesting match-up. Los Angeles has played well, and could pose a threat here. Quick would have my vote for the Vezina, if not for Lundqvist, and Kopitar is probably the best player noone has heard of. If Quick can withstand the onslaught of the Canuck offense, it may get interesting. Canucks in 6
2 ST. LOUIS BLUES v. 7 SAN JOSE SHARKS - San Jose should feel lucky to just be in the playoffs. Niemi was a bomb this year, and they got little-to-nothing from anyone not on their top line. Pavelski's name is right under Kopitar's on the list of unknown greats right now, and he'd need to become All-World for the Sharks to even eke out a single win here. Elliott and Halak are simply too much. Blues in 4
3 PHOENIX COYOTES v. 6 CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS - I applaud Mike Smith for his play down the stretch, and it may serve the team well here. They're facing a Blackhawks team who was missing their leader, on and off the ice, and seemed lost without him at times. He should be back, but there may be a game or two adjustment time for Toews. Phoenix needs consistent production from the likes of Whitney and Vrbata to take advantage of their late division crown. Blackhawks in 6
4 NASHVILLE PREDATORS v. 5 DETROIT RED WINGS - I thought a few weeks ago that the Wings would rather play anyone than Nashville. Rinne is outstanding, Weber and Suter have the blueline locked down, and their offense has been unbelievable. But if you actually watch a full Red Wings game, you realize that none of it matters. Yes, they're "aged". They're also experienced. No one can take over the ice like Datsyuk. Zetterberg and Holmstrom are just always "there". Their defense has grown throughout the season. Howard can shut any team down on his best nights. This will either be a tough 7-game series, or a blowout either way. Red Wings in 7
My Second Round: 1 NYR v 6 NJD, 2 BOS v 4 PIT, 1 VAN v 6 CHI, 2 STL v. 5 DET
EAST (I don't follow the East too closely so take my predictions for what they're worth)
(1)Rangers vs. (8) Senators: Rangers will win this series with relative ease. Rangers take it in 5.
(2)Boston Bruins vs. (7) Washington Capitals: I actually think the Caps give the Bruins a little scare here but Boston in 6.
(3) Florida Panthers vs. (6) New Jersey Devils: Devils got a great draw here. Devils in 4.
(4) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. (5) Philadelphia Flyers: This will probably be the best first round series in the East. The league will do everything it can to help the golden boy advance but it won't be enough. Philly in 7.
Second Round Matchups: Rangers vs. Devils, Bruins vs. Flyers
(1) Vancouver Canucks vs. (8) Los Angeles Kings: This is pretty much a tune-up series for Vancover. LA fans will point to the regular season series between these two (2-2) as a reason to have some hope but it won't matter. I give the Kings a lot of credit for building their team back up but they're not quite there yet. Canucks take it 5.
(2)St. Louis Blues vs. (7)San Jose Sharks: This will be a great series. What a turnaround for the St. Louis Blues. Oustanding regular season and they appear to have a team that has a little bit of everything you need to win the Cup. However, St. Louis does not score a lot of goals(although they don't give up any either) and they have a mediocre power play. I think this will be does them in ultimately. The Sharks have a great power play and don't give up a lot of goals. Expect a tough series but I like the Sharks in 6.
(3)Phoenix Coyotes vs. (6) Chicago Blackhawks: Chicago was the better team in the regular season, IMO (although Phoenix won the season series 3-1). The Blackhawks are dealing with a lot of injuries, in particular Toews, but as much as it pains me to say this, I think they'll win this series, relatively easily. Chicago in 5.
(4)Nashville Predators vs. (5)Detroit Red Wings: This could be the best opening round series (either conference). Two VERY evenly matched teams that played to a 3-3 tie in the season series. The Red Wings looked like they were going to run away with the President's trophy, a couple short months ago and then lost half of the team to injuries.
Nashville, made some great additions this year before the deadline and at the deadline and this finally seems to be a team with a little bit of everything needed to win.
Detroit scores a lot of goals and doesn't give up a lot but the special teams are horrendous and could be the difference against Nashville's top power play in the league and top ten in PK. Ultimately though, with a full contingent of players back (Helm is expected back "anytime" after Game 1) and likely Lidstrom's final postseason, the Wings should have enough motivation to play up to their abilities and beat Nashville. Wings in 6.
Second Round Matchups: Canucks vs. Sharks, Red Wings vs. Blackhawks.
Vancouver vs LA- Iím taking the Canucks in 6. Admittedly I don't see hardly any of L.A living on the East coast but I watch a lot of hockey and I know how good Quick is, and I've even heard that the Kings could pull an upset from some "experts" and people. However, I don't see it. D Sedin could be back for the start of this and Luongo is a bit worrisome, but he'll be on a very short leash and I think Schneider and team are good enough to overcome his inexperience should it come to that. Vancouver will get pushed but they will win IMO.
St Louis vs San Jose- Iíve got St Louis in 5. This is one of those series where San Jose is good but the 4-0 season series (I don't usually take much stock in season series) actually means something here, simply because SJ hasn't been able to score on STL at all. 5 games to STL.
Phoenix vs Chicago- Give me the Blackhawks in 7. Not much to say here. Goaltending is not great for Chicago, but they should get by Phoenix on firepower alone but only just.
Nashville vs Detroit- Nashville in 7 games. This one will be great. Hard one to pick, but I think home ice does it for NSH in the end. Plus Pekka Rinne is absolutely ridiculous.
NY Rangers vs Ottawa- Iím going with the Rangers in 6. Home ice, and a pretty sizeable adv in goal should do the trick for the blueshirts.
Boston vs Washington- Bruins in 4. Get out the brooms! Bruins too physical for a team like Washington. Hate calling teams heartless, but that's exactly what this Caps team is.
Florida vs New Jersey- Devils in 5. Hate the seeding system in the NHL for this reason. However, Brodeur hasn't been great at all the last few years he's made the playoffs but they will get by Florida. If they don't I'll be shocked.
Pittsburgh vs Philadelphia- This is a tough one but Iím taking Pitt in 6. 6 games or less just seems to be the standard for these series. Easily the series I'm most excited about, but the Flyers made the critical mistake. They poked the bear. I don't care what Philly has done in Pitt this year or the 4-2 PHI season series record. Come playoff time and a 7 game series, the Pens win, just like they have the last 2 times these teams played in the playoffs.
Vancouver vs LA- Canucks will take this is 4 or 5 games. They are just the stronger team, nuff said.
St Louis vs San Jose- St. Louis in 6. I think San Jose will put in more of a fight than expected (they usually do) but St. Louis has been on a tear for a while so I don't see them slowing down. With that said next round they are done.
Phoenix vs Chicago- I'll go Chicago in 5. They are just the better team and have more talent. They would be much higher in the standings if they weren't in such a tough division.
Nashville vs Detroit- I'll take the Wings in 6. I don't go against my team and even though Nashville is matched well with Detroit the Red Wings have experience and they are healthy again.
NY Rangers vs Ottawa- Rangers in 5. Rangers are too strong for Ottawa. I think Ottawa will upset them in game 1 or 2 but after that its all Rangers.
Boston vs Washington- The current champs in 4. I just don't see Washington breaking their stereotype and Boston is a much stronger team and Washington hasn't played too well this year. Bruins are stronger, have more depth and will make quick work of the caps.
Florida vs New Jersey- Even though the Devils are better I'm taking the Panthers in 6. They got Home Ice advantage and hard working teams like Florida usually upset their way through a round or 2. Jersey is better, but Florida won't quit and work their asses off through a series win.
Pittsburgh vs Philadelphia- Tough one and probably the best series in the opening round of the playoffs. I think Pittsburgh is due for a series win here and they've been playing good hockey all year long. Lets go with the Crosby Crew in 7.
This is just a little friendly trash talking between myself and a couple of my favorite posters on here who just happen to be on the staff. They know who they are. And I think it's time for a name change for them, compliments of my Boston Bruins. And I'm still waiting guys.
As for the second round matchups. I didn't post them in my earlier post, but obviously they are NYR/NJD and BOS/PIT from the East and VAN/CHI and STL/NSH in the West.
Btw, I was also wondering, maybe we could predict the whole playoffs (i.e. past the first round.) I proposed this idea on a forum from some time ago.
It was 10 pts for picking the right team and 10 for predicting the correct amount of games in each series. There was also 30 points for predicting the correct SC final matchup and 50 pts for picking the winner. Whether it's for bragging rights or username changes doesn't really matter to me. I just decided to pass along the idea. Of course if you screw up which everybody is likely to do, picks will just reset and you would pick that rounds matchup(s) as they are.
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