It’s April which means it’s NHL playoff time, aka the best time of the year. For most Americans south of the Mason Dixon line, they’ll be tuning into the wonderful voice of Doc Emrick and watching their first hockey game of the season soon.
Here’s a preview for the 1st round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, and my prediction for who I think is going to take home the Stanley Cup this year.
#1 Washington Capitals vs. WC Philadelphia Flyers
This might be a tougher series for the Caps than most people think. The Flyers are really scrappy, move the puck well and are going to have some confidence against Washington after beating them in a shootout in late March.
However, Washington has just too much star power, I don’t see anyway Ovi, Backstrom and Kuznetsov give this series away. Holtby is a brick wall.
Washington in 5 games
#2 Pittsburgh Penguins vs. #3 New York Rangers
With Washington having dominated the Eastern Conference this year, the Penguins have flown under the radar as being a really dangerous contender posting 104 points this year. Sidney Crosby has had another great year with a little help from his goal scoring veterans, Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel and Patric Hornqvist.
What this is going to come down for the Rangers is what it always comes down to: Hank. Can the Handsome One prevent the Pittsburgh Retirement Home from moving on? I don’t think so Henry.
Pittsburgh in 6 games
#1 Florida Panthers vs. WC New York Islanders
All year people have been waiting for the Panthers to collapse and they keep on moving forward. This team is not a fluke and they have a legit frontline headed by 75 year old Jarmoir Jagr. Seriously what this dude has done this year, posting 66 point at this point in his career is a god damn phenomenon.
The biggest question mark for the Cats comes between the pipes and whether their D can check the Islanders pair of Taveres and Okposo. I think this is going to be a great series between two teams that don’t do anything great but do everything really well. The instincts say you should pick the team where Game 7 will be played, but I’m going against that instinct.
New York in 7 games
#2 Tampa Bay Lightning vs. #3 Detroit Red Wings
The Red Wings are now in the Stanley Cup playoffs for the 25th consecutive year, that’s absolute insanity. The problem is this year, they really aren’t very good. Posting 94 points, they finished with a -13 goal differential? Hmm. It was going to be an easy Lightning pick until Pavel Datsyuk said he’s going back to Russia after this year and now I’m all fucked up. Win for Pavel?
Now to make it worse, the Lightning are going to be without star Steven Stamkos. Still though with Kucherov, Killorn, Johnson and Hedman it should be Lightning, Lightning Lightning.
But, it’s April and the Red Wings. Win for Pavel?
Detroit in 6 games
#1 Dallas Stars vs. WC Minnesota Wild
Dallas has been loading up with young talent over the years and it’s finally starting to pay off. They score a shit ton of goals, in fact they’re first in goals per game with 3.2 thanks to Jamie Benn, Tyler Sequin and Jason Spezza. They’ve added a nice veteran presence to go along with their young stars. The only issue is they give up a lot of goals, but I don’t think that’s going to be a problem against Minnesota.
Is there anything to really say about the Wild? They stink. Even though they have a good amount of talent with Coyle, Koivu, Parise, Pominville, Suter and Vanek. Don’t let it fool you, they stink.
Dallas in 4 games
#2 St. Louis Blues vs. #3 Chicago Blackhawks
This series right here is why people get a boner for the Stanley Cup playoffs. Classic clash with two teams that hate each other and two teams that are going to try to win in very different ways. The Blues are a team that take advantage of every mistake you give them, hit you and play really good defense. They compensate for their lack of scoring and star power (outside of Vladimir) with grit and pressure.
The Blackhawks on the other hand, play quick, aggressive and thrive off their star power and scoring ability. Patrick Kane has had a disgustingly historic season posting 106 points all while fighting rape allegations. Seabrook, Keith and Hjalmarsson are still holding down the back end. The biggest question mark is if Corey Crawford will hold up in the pipes or if Scotty Darling needs to become a hero again.
Chicago in 6 games
#1 Anaheim Ducks vs. WC Nashville Predators
Anaheim is similar to St. Louis in the fact that they make teams pay for all their mistakes, play great defense and keep you off the scoreboard. Pair that with the tremendous play and leadership they get from their Centers in Getzlaf-Kesler-Cogliano and I don’t think Nashville will be able to steal more than a game.
*My hate for the Predators has nothing to do with the fact they’ve been acting like total bitches during the Jimmy Vesey situation* (Actually it does)
Anaheim in 5 games
#2 Los Angeles Kings vs. #3 San Jose Sharks
Another classic matchup coming out of the West in this series. The Kings have a lot of star power in Anze Kopitar, Milan Lucic and Drew Doughty but they’ve lacked constiancy in goal scoring which is going to be a problem against San Jose.
San Jose is in the reverse end of the spectrum, they’ve put the puck in the net a lot this year but have struggled defensively at times. Seriously though, how can you pick against Thornton, Pavleski, Marleau and Couture? I have a feeling my boy Brent Burns is going to come up big in a hard fought series.
San Jose in 7 games
I’ll be updating a new blog for round 2 but my early pick is going to be:
Dallas over Pittsburgh.
But since my Bruins are out, I’m going to be pulling for my Sharks now. Go Sharks.