The time has arrived. The matchups are set, the schedule is set, now all that’s left is the inevitable upsets and tears. Below you’ll find my brief analysis and predictions for each of the first round playoff meetings. Given the weird playoff ‘bracket’ the NHL has adopted in recent years, it makes predictions all the more difficult. For example, Pittsburgh and Columbus should NOT be facing each other in the first round, but that’s the reality that we have.
For fun, I asked my friend Dana to make predictions as well – she is not much of a hockey fan, so it will be interesting to see if knowing more hockey information truly makes a difference when it comes to predicting. Without further ado, here we go:
Montreal Canadiens vs. New York Rangers
Season Series: Canadiens 3-0-0
Thoughts: There’s no real reason for this prediction other than I think that the Canadiens will win. They have the edge in the season series and have been playing pretty well as of late. The Rangers did make a strong playoff push and Lundqvist is back as starting goalie, but I still have to give the edge to Montreal.
Terri’s Prediction: Montreal Canadiens
Dana’s Prediction: Montreal Canadiens
Ottawa Senators vs. Boston Bruins
Season Series: Senators 4-0-0
Thoughts: Honestly, this whole series comes down to Tuukka Rask. When Tuukka is good, he is very good. When Tuukka is bad, he is very bad. Given that Craig Anderson has been having a phenomenal season, I feel like this series is going to be tight. Although Ottawa leads the season matchups, I’m giving the edge to Boston in this series (sorry Beata) in hopes that their playoff drought will give them that extra push to get to the second round.
Terri’s Prediction: Boston Bruins
Dana’s Prediction: Boston Bruins
Washington Capitals vs. Toronto Maple Leafs
Season Series: Capitals 2-1-0
Thoughts: It would be the upset of the season if the Leafs managed to pull off this win. They have a strong crop of young players and had to fight their way into the playoffs, so that determination could help carry them in this series. However, with the experience and depth of the Capitals team, will the Leafs win? I have my extreme doubts.
Terri’s Prediction: Washington Capitals
Dana’s Prediction: Washington Capitals
Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Columbus Blue Jackets
Season Series: Tied 2-1-1
Thoughts: Although Columbus has been in a bit of a slump over the past few weeks, I feel like this is their series to lose. The Penguins have been riddled with injures to key players like Kris Letang and Evgeni Malkin, the latter of which should be back in the playoffs, but there’s no guarantee. Meanwhile the Jackets have possibly Vezina candidate Bobrosky in their midst who is guaranteed to put in a good fight. This is going to be a key series to watch, but my bet is on Columbus.
Terri’s Prediction: Columbus Blue Jackets
Dana’s Prediction: Pittsburgh Penguins
Chicago Blackhawks vs. Nashville Predators
Season Series: Blackhawks 4-1-0
Thoughts: The Predators have not had a good season. With Subban spending a few weeks injured and key players not acculumlating as many points as usual, I just don’t see them as winning this series. The Blackhawks are always good, and it takes a well put together team to take them down, I don’t believe that Nashville is that team.
Terri’s Prediction: Chicago Blackhawks
Dana’s Prediction: Chicago Blackhawks
Minnesota Wild vs. St. Louis Blues
Season Series: Blues 3-2-0
Thoughts: This is another one of those series that I’m just blindly predicting, based on nothing but ‘gut instinct’. No idea why, but I just feel like Minnesota may win this series. That is all.
Terri’s Prediction: Minnesota Wild
Dana’s Prediction: St. Louis Blues
Anaheim Ducks vs. Calgary Flames
Season Series: Ducks 4-1-0
Thoughts: Goalie John Gibson has been on fire since his return from injury. Jonathan Bernier has been a star backup. The team has major depth aside from goaltending with Kessler, Perry, Getzlaf, Perry, etc. Anaheim is a team to watch in the playoffs, they just might sneak in where they’re unexpected. Calgary, well, I just don’t think they have the team to take on the Ducks. They’ve come far this season, but I don’t think it’s quite far enough.
Terri’s Prediction: Anaheim Ducks
Dana’s Prediction: Calgary Flames
Edmonton Oilers vs. San Jose Sharks
Season Series: Oilers 3-1-1
Thoughts: It’s about time that Edmonton started having some success, after years of scraping the bottom of the league, they’re finally putting all those early round draft picks to use. I think that will carry them through at least the first round of the playoffs. Plus, can Joe Thornton’s playoff beard actually grow any longer than what he already has?
Terri’s Prediction: Edmonton Oilers
Dana’s Prediction: San Jose Sharks
Check back at the end of the first round to see what the results were, and check out the predictions for Round 2. Also, if you want to fill out your own bracket, you can do so here.