1. Washington Capitals v 8. New York Rangers
CAPITALS IN SIX
The Rangers do not have the offensive consistency to match the Caps. Not having Ryan Callahan will hurt as well. Lundqvist will have a fantastic series but it will not be enough to stop Ovechkin and company.
2. Philadelphia Flyers v 7. Buffalo Sabres
FLYERS IN 5
The Flyers have been struggling and the Sabres have been on a tear but this is where it ends. The Flyers are built for this and their depth will shine in a series what will end up being a lot less competitive than it looks. The only downfall for the Flyers will be goaltending. If the Flyers can’t get consistency in between the pipes, the Sabres will extend this series.
3. Boston Bruins v 6. Montreal Canadiens
BRUINS IN 6
The Canadiens won four of six games during this season’s series with Boston but have one major vulnerability when it comes to a series with the Bruins. Boston is a large team. If they start being physical with the Habs, they will roll with this series. Boston cannot afford to drop a game at TD BankNorth Garden because the Habs will have the best fans in the NHL behind them for game three. In the end, Tim Thomas’ stellar play along with a good defensive and physical game with timely scoring will put the Bruins into the next round.
4. Pittsburgh Penguins v 5. Tampa Bay Lightning
LIGHTNING IN 7
The Penguins accomplished something impressive this year. They managed to take a higher seed in the East without Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin. This will be when it comes back to haunt them. They have received timely consistent play from rookies this season but that will not continue in the playoffs. The Pens simply do not have the firepower to match Lecavalier, Stamkos, St Louis, Gagne, and others. Eric Brewer has been one of the best acquisitions of the season as he provides solid defense. The Penguins have the edge in goal but will have to score a lot of them in order to beat the Bolts.
1. Washington Capitals v 5. Tampa Bay Lightning
CAPITALS IN 6
2. Philadelphia Flyers v 3. Boston Bruins
BOSTON IN 7
EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS
1. Washington Capitals v 3. Boston Bruins
BOSTON IN 7
1. Vancouver Canucks v 8. Chicago Blackhawks
VANCOUVER IN 5
This will be the year where the Canucks will finally get the monkey off their back. They have simply too much depth for a Hawks team that barely squeaked into the playoffs to handle. We’ve seen how far the Hawks can go with an un-proven goaltender but Roberto Luongo will be huge in net for the Canucks. Daniel and Henrik Sedin along with Ryan Kesler, Alex Burrows, and others make up this offensive juggernaut. Their defense is pretty good as well. Teows, Kane, Hossa, Sharp, and Keith are going to have to have a stellar series to give the Hawks a chance. I don’t think it will happen.
2. San Jose Sharks v 7. Los Angeles Kings
SHARKS IN 4
The Kings surely had an up and down season. They now take on the hot San Jose Sharks without their best player in Anze Kopitar. The Kings will not be able to match the offense that San Jose brings to the table. Niemi has been absolutely stellar in goal for them as well. This will be the only sweep of the first round.
3. Detroit Red Wings v 6. Phoenix Coyotes
RED WINGS IN 6
Every year someone predicts the Wings to stumble in the playoffs and they are rarely right. Even if a majority of the team are AARP members, they still know how to win in the playoffs. The Coyotes are young and fast but that will not make up for the experience gap. The Cotoyes will be able to steal a game or two but it will be the Wings moving on to round 2.
4. Anaheim Ducks v 5. Nashville Predators
DUCKS IN 7
This series does not have one televised game in the USA for a reason. It’s not the sexy pick. When people look at the standings they will surely be surprised to see where these two teams ended up. The Ducks got an outstanding year from Corey Perry. They also have a decent amount of talent up front as well as an in your face physical game. Their defense has been great as well. Cam Fowler has surely acted like a seasoned veteran in his rookie season. The Ducks reacquired Francois Beauchemin who has looked happy back at home after and underwhelming stint with the Maple Leafs. The Preds will fight hard. These two teams are almost mirror images of one another. In the end, it’s Perry and Getzlaf that will come out on top.
1. Vancouver Canucks v 4. Anaheim Ducks
CANUCKS IN 5
2. San Jose Sharks v 3. Detroit Red Wings
SHARKS IN 6
WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS
1. Vancouver Canucks v 3. Detroit Red Wings
CANUCKS IN 7
STANLEY CUP FINALS
VANCOUVER CANUCKS v. BOSTON BRUINS
CANUCKS IN 6
The Vancouver Canucks will be the Stanley Cup Champions this season.
The Canucks are the best team in the NHL. Far be it from me to claim that a team is going to choke. Predicting that a team is going to choke is just good analyzing. This happens to be the number one reason why most people will say the Canucks won’t win. I look at the unbelievable depth that the team has along with a strong defense and one of the best goaltenders in the world. After that, the Canucks have a fan base and a city that deserves another championship. They have some of the best fans in the world and they will be in top form this series. Game 3 will be the most important game in this series. It will either be a 2-0 Vancouver lead or a 1-1 series heading into game 3 in Boston. The Bruins had 50 points at home while the Canucks had 60 points on the road. This series will feature the most travel possible for a Cup matchup and it is something that the Canucks are used to. The Bruins don’t have to travel far at all in their schedule. Only the Rangers, Devils, Islanders, and Flyers have less travel than the Bruins. Depth will win this series and the Canucks have it.