Now that the matchups are set, I figured I’d take the opportunity to give everyone my predictions for this year’s Stanley Cup playoffs, beginning with the first round and going right through to the Finals. Feel free to criticize my predictions and let us hear your own.
Here we go:
#1 Washington Capitals vs. #8 Montreal Canadiens
The Habs come into this series having lost the last two games of the regular season to two of the leagues bottom seven teams – Carolina and Toronto – but still managing to squeak in. They also come into this series with three of the leagues top 8 leaders in giveaways: 3. Roman Hamrlik (86), 4. Jaroslav Spacek (81), 8. Hal Gill (76). I’ll give the Habs the edge between the pipes, but Washington dominates in every other department. Hall Gill’s propensity to body check his own goalie will keep the Habs from winning a game. Prediction: Capitals in 4.
#2 New Jersey Devils vs. #7 Philadelphia Flyers
The Flyers managed to get into the playoffs with a shootout win on Sunday. Their goaltending is questionable. They’ll win one game but not much else.
Prediction: Devils in 5.
#3 Buffalo Sabres vs. #6 Boston Bruins
This the only matchup in the Eastern Conference that I think has upset potential. It should be a close exciting series, but unfortunately for Bruins fans their lack of scoring and Ryan Miller’s awesomeness will seal their fate. Luckily, they have a high draft pick to look forward to, courtesy of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Prediction: Sabres in 6.
#4 Pittsburgh Penguins vs. #5 Ottawa Senators
The only way the defending champs could lose this series is if they rely too much on Alexei Ponikarovsky to hit open nets. Since they’re playing the Sens he may get enough open net chances to actually pot a few. The Sens are a much improved team this year, I’ll give them that, but without Kovalev they don‘t stand much of a chance.
Prediction: Penguins in 4.
#1 San Jose Sharks vs. #8 Colorado Avalanche
The Colorado Avalanche surprised many people this year, lead by rookie sensation Matt Duchene and goalie Craig Anderson, whose finally gotten a job as a number one. They’ll be in tough against the San Jose Sharks, but it’s playoff time and you know what that means; it’s time for Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton’s annual disappearing act. See you in September.
Prediction: Avalanche in 7.
#2 Chicago Blackhawks vs. #7 Nashville Predators
I haven’t seen much of the Nashville Predators this season but I don’t expect them to be much of a challenge for the stacked Chicago Blackhawks. Of course if Chicago’s goaltending falters, they could be out in the first round. I think they’ll win this one regardless of goaltending.
Prediction: Blackhawks in 5.
#3 Vancouver Canucks vs. #6 Los Angeles Kings
This should be an exciting series. The Kings will give the Canucks all they can handle in their first playoff appearance in a while. Luongo and the Sedins will prevail.
Prediction: Canucks in 7.
#4 Phoenix Coyotes vs. #5 Detroit Red Wings
The young exciting Phoenix Coyotes vs. the team no one wants to play in the first round. A couple of weeks ago the Wings were neck and neck with Calgary for 8th place, but a finally healthy Detroit team went on a tear and finished the season 5th in the West. Bryzgalov may stand on his head but it won’t be enough.
Prediction: Red Wings in 5.
#1 Washington Capitals vs. #4 Pittsburgh Penguins
The series everyone wants to see. The rematch. The Washington Capitals are a much better team this time around and Pittsburgh has struggled as of late. However, they’ll get it going by then and Washington’s goaltending isn’t good enough. It will be close, but Crosby will win again
Prediction: Penguins in 7.
#2 New Jersey Devils vs. #3 Buffalo Sabres
The greatest goaltender in NHL history vs. the NHL’s MVP. It’s not official but many believe that Ryan Miller should be this year’s MVP and rightfully so. It will be a goaltender’s duel but in the end, Brodeur will prevail.
Prediction: Devils in 7.
#2 Chicago Blackhawks vs. #8 Colorado Avalanche
They may get past the playoff choking San Jose Sharks but the dominance of the Blackhawks will be too much for the young Avs.
Prediction: Blackhawks in 5.
#3 Vancouver Canucks vs. #5 Detroit Red Wings
It will be a long, hard-fought series. The Canucks will be looking to prove that they can take the next step as a hockey team, while the Wings will be looking to prove that they are still a dominant force in the Western Conference. In the end, back to back seven game series will prove to be too much for Roberto Luongo.
Prediction: Red Wings in 7.
#2 New Jersey Devils vs. #4 Pittsburgh Penguins
I try never to bet against the New Jersey Devils because they’ve been there before many times and they know how to win. I’ve picked them to go to the Stanley Cup Finals every year since the lockout and the one year that I don’t pick them could be the year they do it. With Kovalchuk in the mix, the Devils are as big a contender as any. However, the defending champs are younger and also know what it takes to win. In the end, I have to stick with my pre-season prediction.
Prediction: Penguins in 7.
#2 Chicago Blackhawks vs. #5 Detroit Red Wings
A great matchup between the aging Wings and the up and coming Blackhawks. It will be a long series between the Hawks’ high powered offense and the dynamic and steady Wings but in the end, the torch will be passed on to the younger Hawks, as Marion Hossa makes his third consecutive trip to the finals.
Prediction: Blackhawks in 7.
STANLEY CUP FINALS
#4 Pittsburgh Penguins vs. #2 Chicago Blackhawks
This is the finals matchup I predicted in the pre-season and I’m sticking with it. The Blackhawks have a great young team all around, but the one question mark is in net. If their goaltending holds up enough to get them to the finals then it may hold up enough to win them a Cup, but I’m not betting on it. Hossa loses in the finals for the third consecutive year. Pittsburgh wins another cup before next year’s Leafs dynasty takes over.
Prediction: Penguins in 6.
2010 Stanley Cup Champions: Pittsburgh Penguins