I made a terrible mistake last September and picked with my heart, not my brain. This season was very difficult for me, as the Devils missed the playoffs. While their last season push was extremely fun to watch and experience, they came up short and disappointed me in the end. With that being said, I am still very excited for the playoffs, as the first round match-ups are incredibly sexy. Get ready for some awesome hockey over the next two months! Here are my first round picks:
Washington Capitals vs. New York Rangers – While the Rangers had some success in Washington this season, shutting them out twice, I don’t believe they will have the power to overcome the Caps in a seven game series. Henrik Lundqvist has been the MVP for New York this season, but won’t be able to win four games on his own. I’ll take the Caps in 6.
Philadelphia Flyers vs. Buffalo Sabres – The Flyers are the defending Eastern Conference champions and came out very strong this season. Although they have shown signs of slowing and many people have them on upset alert, I find it hard to believe they will lose in the first round. This isn’t my most confident pick, but I’ll take the Flyers in 7.
Boston Bruins vs. Montreal Canadiens – There are so many incredible story lines going into this match-up, as two of the first six teams go head-to-head to start the postseason. The Canadiens are a very solid team, but the Bruins are a major powerhouse. While very entertaining, this series will be over before the puck drops in game 1. Boston takes it in 5.
Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Tampa Bay Lightning – The Penguins hung on to grab the number 4 seed in the East, even without Crosby or Malkin in the lineup. Some think Crosby will be back for this series and if so, I can’t pick against them. Until that point I pick the Lightning to upset the Pens in 7, unless of course Crosby plays.
Vancouver Canucks vs. Chicago Blackhawks - This match-up is quite intriguing. The Blackhawks have taken the Canucks out in the past two seasons, not to mention they are the defending Stanley Cup champions. With that being said, Chicago made it into the playoffs not by winning their last game of the season (They lost 4-3 to the Red Wings), but by watching Minnesota beat the Dallas Stars. The Canucks ave been the best team from start to finish and they will not lose three straight years to the hawks. Vancouver takes it in 6.
San Jose Sharks vs. L.A Kings – This will be an awesome series, not just because it is an all-California match-up, but also due to the fact that they are division rivals. While these teams each walked away with 3 victories over the other in the regular season, I think this series will be more similar to their last game of the season just over a week ago, when the Sharks won 6-1. I’m taking the Sharks in 5.
Detroit Red Wings vs. Phoenix Coyotes – This will be the second straight year these two teams have met in the postseason, expect this season they will swap sides. The Red Wings will have home ice advantage, seeing as they had a much more successful year than last. I think Phoenix has continued to shine in the regular season, but just can’t keep up with all of the talent and experience the Wings bring to the ice. Although a very competitive series, the Red Wings will take this one in 7.
Anaheim Ducks vs. Nashville Predators – The Predators took the regular season series over the Ducks, winning three of their four games and appear to be the obvious pick to some. However, I stress momentum so much, in all sports, when it comes to the playoffs and that is exactly what Anaheim brings. They seemed to be an after thought 20 games ago, as they sat in the 11th seed, but finished the season 15-5-0, climbing all the way to the number 4 seed. The Predators might have had their number during the regular season, but playoff hockey is a whole different beast. I look for the Ducks high flying offense to swarm the Predators defense and take the series in 7 games.