Hey everyone, today I a going to be doing my NHL playoff predictions for the first round. This is my first time doing this, so let me give a brief explanation. When each of the major four sports (MLB, NFL, NHL, NBA) reach the playoffs, I will be doing playoff predictions round-by-round giving my prediction on each series with a brief explanation on each of these predictions. Lets get started.
Anaheim Ducks vs Winnipeg Jets
For this series, it is a matchup between the number one team in the west, facing one of the hottest teams in the West. Winnipeg, since March 14th, have gone 10-3-1, giving themselves the edge to win the second wildcard in the west. Anaheim, in as many games, went 9-5. In terms of overall season stats, the Ducks edged the Jets in GPG (goals per game), averaging 2.78 to the Jets 2.72. However, the Jets outdid the Ducks in GAPG (goals allowed per game), giving up 2.49 to the Ducks 2.70. For the Jets, this is their first playoff berth since moving to Winnipeg, as their last coming in the 06-07 season when they were known as the Atlanta Thrashers. The Ducks on the other hand, have made it three of the last four seasons. While both teams have been on a hot streak, I think the Jets make it interesting, but the Ducks home-ice gives them the edge.
Preiction: Anaheim wins series 4-3
Vancouver Canucks vs Calgary Flames
In this matchup, the number two team in the Pacific, Vancouver, will face-off against the number three team in the Pacific, Calgary. Vancouver is hot of late, going 12-5-1 in their last 18 games. On the other end, Calgary has gone 10-5-3 in the same span. On the season, both teams put up very similar offensive numbers, with Calgary averaging 2.89 GPG to Vancouver’s 2.88. They are also similar in terms of GAPG, as Calgary has 2.60 GAP, to Vancouver’s 2.68. While Calgary has the slight edge in statistics, they do not have the playoff experience Vancouver does, with this being their first playoff birth since the 08-09 season, while Vancouver has made it in five of the last six. Due to this, I am going to give this series to the Canucks
Prediction: Vancouver wins series 4-2
Nashville Predators vs Chicago Blackhawks
This series is one of the best of the bunch, with the Predators, who were at one point number one in the league, facing off against the Blackhawks, who have been perennial playoff winners. Neither team has been necessarily hot of late, Nashville has lost their last six games, and Chicago has lost their last four. In terms of offense, Nashville beats Chicago in GPG averaging 2.76 to Chicago’s 2.68. But in terms of goals allowed, Chicago was 2nd best in the league averaging just 2.27 GAPG, while Nashville averaged 2.46. In terms of experience, Chicago clearly has more, now reaching the playoffs each of the last six seasons, winning the Stanley Cup twice. On the other hand, the Predators were absent from the playoffs each of the last two seasons. Although Nashville has home ice, Chicago’s stellar goaltending and rich playoff history should give them this series with ease.
Prediction: Chicago wins series 4-1
St. Louis Blues vs Minnesota Wild
This series is a face-off between two hot teams, as both the Blues and the Wild come in at 6-3-1 in their last 10 games. St. Louis has had one of the best offenses in the league this season, averaging 2.91 GPG, as opposed to Minnesota’s average at 2.77. Both teams had amazing goaltending as well, as the Blues had 2.40 GAPG to the Wild giving up 2.41. The Blues have made the playoffs now for the last three seasons, being one of the leagues best teams each year. However, they have been known to choke when it comes to the postseason, being knocked out within the first 2 rounds in each of those years. The Wild have found their ways to the postseason the last two seasons, but the last two were knocked out in the first and second rounds. While neither team has done well in the post season, it is hard to see the Wild overcoming the Blues in this one.
Prediction: St. Louis wins series 4-0
New York Rangers vs Pittsburg Penguins
In this series, Rick Nash and the President Trophy-winning Rangers will face off against the Penguins, who own two of the best players in the world, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. These teams have been on the opposite ends of the spectrum as of late, as the Rangers come in red hot at 7-3 in their last 10 games, while the Penguins come in ice cold at 3-5-2, barely clinching themselves the final playoff spot in the East. The Rangers were one of three teams to average more than 3 goals a game this season, averaging 3.01 GPG, while the Penguins averaged just 2.65, putting them in the bottom half of the NHL. For goaltending, Rangers goalie Henrik Luvquist has been one of the very best in the league, leading the Rangers to a 2.28 GAPG average, to the Penguins 2.49. One area where the Penguins may have the edge is playoff experience. They have made it to the playoffs each of the last eight seasons, winning the Stanley Cup once in that time. On the other hand, the Rangers have made it in eight of the last nine seasons, but have not won a Stanley Cup over that span, although they did make it to the championship last season. Although the Penguins do have Crosby and Malkin, the Rangers will be too much for them to handle and they will lose the series.
Prediction: New York wins series 4-1
Washington Capitals vs New York Islanders
This series consists of Alexander Ovechkin and the Capitals taking on John Tavares and the Islanders. Both teams finished with 101 points in the standings, but Washington was given home-ice over the Islanders. The Capitals have done well as of late, going 6-3-1 in their last 10, while the Islanders have been less impressive at 4-3-3. The Islanders and Capitals both had great offenses this season, New York finishing with an average of 2.99 GPG, and Washington finishing at 2.89. The big difference between these two clubs is the goaltending. Washington was one of the best this year averaging 2.43 GAPG, while New York was one of the worst giving up 2.73 GAPG. The Islanders have very little playoff experience, as they missed the postseason last season, were knocked out in round one the year prior, and not making it since the 06-07 season before that. The Capitols on the other hand, missed the playoffs last year, but made it the six seasons priors, however never made it past round two. While this should be a close series, I don’t see the Islanders making it to round two in this postseason.
Prediction: Washington wins series 4-3
Tampa Bay Lightning vs Detroit Red Wings
This matchup is between the young Lightning led by star Steven Stamkos, facing off against the old Red Wings led by future hall-of-famer Pavel Datsyuk. The Lightning come in to the series winning six of their last ten games, as opposed to the Red Wings winning just four. The Lightning had the best offense in the league, piling up an average of 3.16 GPG. The Red Wings were not too shabby themselves, coming in the top ten for the league at an average of 2.82. In terms of goaltending, the two teams were similar, the Lightning averaging 2.51 GAPG, while the Red Wings averaged 2.57. There is no denying that the Red Wings have playoff experience. With the longest streak in sports, Detroit has made the playoffs in each of the last 23 seasons, no that is not a typo. Over that span they won four Stanley Cups, most recently in the 07-08 season. The Lightning have far less playoff experience, making the postseason in two of the last four seasons, most recently last season. While the Red Wings may have the playoff experience of every team in the league combined, the younger, quicker Lightning will skate circles around them in this series.
Prediction: Tampa Bay wins series 4-0
Montreal Canadiens vs Ottawa Senators
This, in my opinion will be the best series of them all. Montreal is the one-seed of the the Atlantic division, and they will be facing off against wild-card team, the Ottawa Senators. As of February 9th, the Senators were the fourth worst team in the East with 30 games left to be played. They didn’t waste a second of those 30 games, going on a historical run taking 48 of an available 60 points, working their way to the seventh best team in the East, making the playoffs as the first wild-card team. In terms of recent success, the Canadiens have gone 5-2-3 in their last ten matches, while the Senators have gone 6-2-2. As of season offensive production, the Senators ranked ninth in the league averaging 2.83 GPG, while the Canadiens came in just 20th at 2.61. While their offensive production may not have been the best, their goaltending literally was the best, as they gave averaged just 2.24 GAPG, ranking first in the NHL. The Senators ranked 13th in the league for goaltending, with an average of 2.54 GAPG. The Canadiens have gained a lot of playoff experience over the years, reaching the playoffs six of the last seven seasons, reaching the conference championship twice in that span. On the other side of the ice, the Senators missed the postseason last year, but made it the two years prior, however, didn’t make it past round two. While the Canadiens do have excellent goaltending and home-ice in this series, I feel the Senators just have too much momentum, and will upset the Canadiens in a nail-biting series.
Prediction: Ottawa wins series 4-3
Ducks over Jets in 7
Canucks over Flames in 6
Blackhawks over Predators in 5
Blues over Wild in 4
Rangers over Penguins in 5
Capitals over Islanders in 7
Lightning over Red Wings in 4
Senators over Canadiens in 7