NHL first round playoff predictions

Suzanna Bezyan

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






Penguins center Sidney Crosby and defenseman Kris Letang

Penguins forward Sydney Crosby (87) and defenseman Kris Letang warm up before a home game. Photo courtesy of MCT

Eastern Conference

Pittsburgh v. New York Islanders – Pittsburgh will take this because of their stacked roster of all-star players from the past and present. Avoiding injuries to Sidney Crosby and Evegni Malkin will be necessary to advance. If their roster remains intact they can make the finals. The Penguins won four out of five games against the Islanders this season. New York can only be successful if John Tavares steps up and continues to be the all-star player that he has been all season. He is their x-factor. I just don’t see a team like the Islanders that barely made it to the playoffs beating the powerful Penguins.

PREDICTION: Pittsburgh in 5

Montreal v. Ottawa – One man from Montreal, defenseman P.K. Subban, will decide this series on both offense and defense. Getting struggling goalie Carey Price back into form and he will be a great factor. Ottawa will be a small challenge, because they have sniper forwards like Daniel Alfredsson and Jason Spezza. However, Spezza has had a pretty bad season and has only scored two goals. They are both up there in age so their time is winding down. Ottawa needs help from all lines to be successful against Montreal, including their goalie Craig Anderson who was one of the NHL’s top goalies before his ankle injury back in February. He needs to regain his form if the Senators have any chance of upsetting the Canadiens.

 

PREDICTION: Montreal in 6

Washington v. New York Rangers – The Rangers started getting hot at the right time. Their goalie, “King Henrik” Lundqvist, has been consistent all season while the team was struggling to score goals. He has always kept them in games and given them a chance to win. Rick Nash and Brad Richards have finally started to score goals. They are going to be major factors for the Rangers in the series. Washington can make this difficult for the Rangers because Alex Ovechkin has finally started playing like himself.  After struggling all season and scoring fewer goals, he was rejuvenated in April by scoring 14 goals. Winning the Rocket Richard Trophy for most goals in a season with 32, his offensive power will be necessary for an upset. His positive presence on the ice affects how the rest of the team will play. It’s going to be a classic matchup.

 

PREDICTION: Rangers in 7

Boston v. Toronto – Boston will take this one because they have more depth throughout the whole roster. They have one of the best forwards ever in Jaromir Jagr. His arrival at the trade deadline made them a more balanced team. The x-factors for the Bruins will be forward Milan Lucic ,who has had a mediocre season overall and goalie Tuukka Rask. Lucic needs to elevate his game and Rask has been up to the  number one goalie task since the departure;/ of Tim Thomas. He proved himself in the regular season but is he ready to lead the team into the playoffs? The Maple Leafs have good forwards in Phil Kessel, Joffrey Lupul, James Van Riemsdyk, Tyler Bozak, and a strong hitting and goal scoring defenseman Dion Phaneuf, who is in his prime at 28. Their goalie Reimer also needs to step up his game. Boston won the series against Toronto in the short season 3-1-0.

 

PREDICTION: Boston in 6.

Western Conference

Ducks vs. Kings

Kings forward Anze Kopitar (11) embraces defenseman Drew Doughty after a goal. Photo courtesy of MCT

Minnesota v. ChicagoThis should be the easiest series for the President’s Trophy winners. Minnesota struggled to make it into the playoffs, while Chicago has been setting records all season long, like their 24-consecutive points in a game streak. Overall Chicago is a better team than Minnesota. Minnesota has a long way to go to be able to compete with Chicago, defensively and offensively. This season they’ve beaten the Wild in regulation, but the Wild did win once in a shootout. However, there are no shootouts in the playoffs. Chicago had a good start this year and remained consistent throughout the season; the Wild have not. I definitely think they have what it takes to make it all the way to the finals.

 

PREDICTION: Chicago in 4.

Detroit v. AnaheimThe Ducks have had an accomplished short season in 2012-2013. This is a really intriguing series between two teams moving in opposite directions at the season’s end. While the Ducks raced to the top at the start of the season, they struggled in April. Meanwhile, the Red Wings finally got their blue liners healthy. They now head into the playoffs having won four games in a row. Detroit also won two of the three games in the season series. These two teams are no strangers to each other when it comes to playoff matchups. However, this year the series will come down to the play of Detroit goaltender Jimmy Howard. If he can steal a game or two, the Red Wings will advance. If he struggles like he has in the past, the Ducks may move on.

 

PREDICTION: Detroit in 6.

San Jose v. VancouverSan Jose has been up and down all season. While they started off hot, they struggled for most of February. However, they have played phenomenally at home. They have a great group of forwards and their goaltender Antti Niemi is one to watch out for. The Sharks beat Vancouver in all three of their meetings in regulation. Sure, Vancouver is talented, and with talks of their goaltender Roberto Luongo being traded, they will be playing as well as they always do. What makes it interesting is that neither team has ever won a Stanley Cup, so it will definitely be a physical series.

 

PREDICTION: Sharks in 7

Los Angeles v. St. LouisEven though the Kings and Blues have only met three times this season, the Kings have beat St. Louis by at least two goals each time. Going back to last year, the Kings swept the Blues 4-0 in the playoffs.  St. Louis’ goaltender Brian Elliot has gotten much better this season, but the Kings top forwards can make things very difficult for him. Their ability to score on him may still be in the back of his mind. While playing against the defending champions will be a battle, the Blues will put their best foot forward. The Blues have players now that weren’t there earlier in the regular season that will impact their play. Both teams are equally physical, in defense, with strong forwards. There are things such as bigger, more powerful guys on the ice and scoring more goals that the Kings dominate them in. The Blues bitterness from last year may come out. But in the end, Los Angeles’ top goal scorers, like Jeff Carter, who is fourth in the NHL, will help the Kings advance to the next round.
PREDICTION: Kings in 6.