14 April 2015

2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs: 1st Round Predictions

Is the Stanley Cup Playoffs the best postseason in all of sports? One could certainly make that case but regardless of where you stand on that front, the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs kicks off tomorrow night with a quartet of games. It has been a wild season across both conferences but whose dreams of hoisting the Cup will be dashed first? Here are my first round predictions.

TV Schedule

 A1 Montreal Canadiens vs. WC Ottawa Senators
This could be a wild series as the Senators have been playing sensational hockey the past month while the Habs have been solid all season long behind the exceptional play of goalie Casey Price. Of course, Montreal is more than just Price as they have a solid offense and a defensive corps led by P.K. Subban while Ottawa is deep on both ends and have seemed to find a very good goalie in Andrew Hammond. Sometimes it can be fool's gold to go with the hot team but I am feeling the Sens here.
Senators in 7

A2 Tampa Bay Lightning vs. A3 Detroit Red Wings
The Red Wings has been pretty inconsistent of late and they have significant worries at net popping up at the worst time. As Jimmy Howard has struggled through his worst season in three years, it looks like the rookie Petr Mrazek will get the initial nod but he has been hit-or-miss as well. Having worries in net is a bad sign when you are going against the league's best and deepest offense.
Lightning in 4

M1 New York Rangers vs. WC Pittsburgh Penguins
The President's Trophy winners were able to sweep the season series with the Penguins and it would be a pretty big surprise to see the Penguins pull off the upset. Even with all their stars, Pittsburgh's offense has been inconsistent as of late and their defense has struggled all season. Marc-Andre Fleury has had a tremendous season but he still has to shake off his reputation for being a playoff mess. Pittsburgh may be able to steal a game but ultimately, not much else.
Rangers in 5

M2 Washington Capitals vs. M3 New York Islanders
In their first year under Barry Trotz, the Capitals have been remade from a soft club to one that plays physically on both ends of the ice. Of course, Washington is still led by a strong front line and a dominant special teams unit, particularly on the power play. However, the Islanders are well-suited to be able to take on such a power play as they have the second best performance in the East when playing shorthanded, and they have a very capable goalie in Jaroslav Halak. I'm feeling the upset here.
Islanders in 7

C1 St. Louis Blues vs. WC Minnesota Wild
One year after the Wild pulled a first round upset over Colorado, can they do it again? It certainly is possible, especially as how well the team has played after finally getting a competent player in net with Devan Dubnyk, who has been great down the stretch. Their offense is solid and deep and they control the puck well but the Blues can wear them down with their physical defensive play. Minnesota will make it interesting but St. Louis will prevail.
Blues in 6

C2 Nashville Predators vs. C3 Chicago Blackhawks
My preseason championship pick were able to win the season series against the Predators and now that they are getting Patick Kane back after being without him for a month and change. They have the superior front line but while the Predators are loaded on the blue line, their defensive unit has not been as good as in years past as Peter Laviolette's has them contributing more on the offensive end. Pekka Rinne's shaky finish to the regular season also does not help matters for Nashville.
Blackhawks in 5

P1 Anaheim Ducks vs. WC Winnipeg Jets
Winnipeg has made the playoffs for the first time since moving to Manitoba from Georgia thanks to a strong finish to the regular season. Meanwhile, the Ducks have the pressure of expectations, namely getting past the conference semifinals for the first time since 2007. Anaheim, as always, is strong offensively but they also have a physical blue line. However, they could be undone by questions in net as Frederik Andersen looks like the man first. If Winnipeg wants to pull the upset, goalie Ondrej Pavelec is going to have to continue his strong play from down the stretch but I still am not totally sold.
Ducks in 7

P2 Vancouver Canucks vs. P3 Calgary Flames
The Flames were one of the pleasant surprises of the regular season and in their first playoff appearance since 2009, they look well-suited to take on the Canucks. Calgary's offense has been great over the past couple of months behind their strong top line of Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan and Jiri Hudler. Their offense could be a little front heavy but so is Vancouver's and Vancouver has more concerns in net than do their counterparts. I like Calgary to win their first playoff series in 11 years.
Flames in 6

3 comments:

  1. Ben you are ridiculous The Red Wings will not be swept they will beat the Lightning in 7 games Mark my Words boi

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  2. Well you picked my Red Wings to get swept������ do you have anything you have to say about that awful pick of yours?

    ReplyDelete