Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Monica McAlister on 04/16/14 at 12:11 PM ET
Alright with the Stanley Cup finals kicking off (okay facing off) tonight figured it was time I post my picks for the first round so that I can either say “I told you so” or you can say it to me in about week and a half – two weeks schedule and series length TBD.
Starting with the Western Conference:
Colorado Avalanche over the Minnesota Wild – injuries have plagued both teams but the young “we have something to prove” attitude combined with the coaching from Patrick Roy has overcome much in the regular season and expect to see it again in the first round. Avalanche in six.
Chicago Blackhawks over St. Louis Blues – though St. Louis also has some young guys looking to prove themselves as well in the 2014 playoffs the reigning Stanley Cup champions have stars Patrick Kane and captain Jonathan Toews coming back rested from injuries. While Chicago was down two of their biggest stars, the depth within the system stepped up at the right time. Blackhawks in five.
Anaheim Ducks over the Dallas Stars – call it the Selanne effect. There is something to be said for a team that has something to rally around and the Ducks are going to look to send Teemu Selanne into retirement with another cup ring. Ducks in six.
Los Angeles Kings over the San Jose Sharks – known for having a rough go in the playoffs the Sharks do have the advantage of having their first round matchup being nearby to save on travel exhaustion. The Kings looking to get back to the Finals will not make it easy on the Sharks. Either way this series looks to strengthen a divisional rivalry between these two California teams. Kings in seven.
Red Wings over Boston Bruins – There is always one huge upset in the first round and look for the Red Wings to hand it out again this season. No longer the team they once were Detroit has snuck into the play-offs but like the Blackhawks have key players coming back from injury with Pavel Datsyuk back and hopeful for the return of Captain Henrik Zetterberg later in the series. Red Wings in seven.
Montreal Canadiens over the Tampa Bay Lightning – Being the only Canadian team to make it to the playoffs the pressure of the great white north is on Montreal. Look to see the team take advantage of some injury problems plaguing the Lightning especially in net. Canadiens in six.
Pittsburgh Penguins over Columbus Blue Jackets – Everyone loves a good underdog story but with the man games lost in Pittsburgh and the new management changes and conference changes for Columbus the Penguins get the slight advantage. Not to mention this is only he second time the Blue Jackets have made the play offs and they are still looking for their first win after being swept in the 2009 first round. Penguins in five.
New York Rangers over the Philadelphia Flyers – Both teams have had struggles this season including those for Rangers newly acquired Martin St. Louis. St. Louis and Flyers Vincent Lecavalier are two former captains for the Lightning and look get hot this series; besides the fact that the Rangers have Henrik Lundqvist. Rangers in seven.
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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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