FIRST ROUND PREDICTIONS
Canadiens vs Senators
All of the momentum is with the Senators. 21-3-3 in their last 27 games, 3-1 vs the Canadiens this season and while a completely different team than two years ago, they have the Canadiens number in ousting the higher seeded Canadiens in five games in the 2013 playoffs.
Not to mention Max Pacioretty is not fully healthy and is questionable to play in Game 1.
Ottawa has a lot of support from the fancy stats crowd in taking this series but the Canadiens are one of those teams that will prove again just how tough they are to beat in a seven game series.
As good as a story Andrew Hammond has been, he’s still a journeyman type goaltender who isn’t beating Carey Price four times.
Prediction: Canadiens in six games
Lightning vs Red Wings
This series is one of the biggest mis-matches in the playoffs. Tampa Bay one of the most complete teams in the NHL, will overwhelm the Red Wings on the backend and make this a short series.
Prediction: Lightning in five games
Capitals vs Islanders
If you’re looking for a dark horse team to win the Stanley Cup, it’s the Washington Capitals. With a revamped defensive corps and a big group of forwards, the Capitals are a big, strong team that will wear the Islanders down in a seven game series. They pose as the biggest threat to beat the Rangers in the East if the two teams meet in round two.
The Capitals have the most dominant player in the game right now in Alexander Ovechkin but it’s the element of having a third line that can impact a series in a big way that could pay dividends if the Capitals make a deep run.
Prediction: Capitals in six games
Rangers vs Penguins
Full Preview and Scouting Report on why it’s such a daunting challenge for the Penguins in this series to be posted Thursday morning.
Prediction: Rangers in five games
WESTERN CONFERENCE PREDICTIONS
Ducks vs Jets
All four series in the West are pick’em series. Scouts, coaches really like the Jets chances to knock off the top seeded Ducks. I’ll cautiously lean in the direction of Anaheim that their goaltending can hold up for a series and the star power of Getzlaf, Perry gets them to round 2.
Prediction: Ducks in six games
Blues vs Wild
This is the year the Blues to need to get it done. There’s no excuses for them in avoiding the Blackhawks in round 1 but if you’re looking for a dark horse team in the West, it’s Minnesota. This will be a closely played series that projects to go down to the wire.
Prediction: Wild in seven games
Canucks vs Flames
Youthful energy has been a huge factor in the Flames resurgence this season but their run ends quickly.
Prediction: Canucks in five games
Predators vs Blackhawks
The Blackhawks numbers are down and they’re not playing at the level they were in 2013 or even last year, but in a wide open Western Conference and with Patrick Kane back, tough to bet against them, especially in round 1.
Prediction: Blackhawks in six games