by PuckStopsHere on 04/15/14 at 11:54 PM ET
It is playoff time and time to make first round playoff predictions. As always, I expect to get some of these predictions wrong. If hockey was completely predictable, why would we bother to watch? I do expect that I will get more of these predictions correct than wrong and that it isn't possible to get them all right without an extreme amount of luck on your side.
Anaheim defeats Dallas. The Ducks probably overachieved to win the West Conference but they have a good team. Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf may be the best healthy one-two punch in the game (given that Malkin's health in questionable). Jim Nill has done a lot to right the Dallas franchise and get them back into the playoffs, but that will likely be their high-water mark this season.
Colorado defeat Minnesota. Colorado is an even more unlikely division winner than Anaheim is, but they should be able to beat Minnesota. This is especially true when Minnesota has Ilya Bryzgalov in goal and he is their third choice at best.
Chicago defeat St Louis. Chicago is the defending champions and they didn't push themselves to win the Presidents Trophy, but they have the best team in the west. The question mark is that both Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews missed the end of the regular season due to injury. St Louis was not a particularly hot team down the stretch, so they do not look ready to pull an upset.
Los Angeles defeat San Jose. This may be the toughest first round match-up. Los Angeles has a significant edge in goal with Jonathan Quick and the best defenceman in the series in Drew Doughty. I think that is enough to give them an advantage in the series.
Boston defeat Detroit. Boston is the best candidate to be an elite team this year. Detroit would be a better opponent if they were healthy. Henrik Zetterberg is out, but even with him healthy the Bruins should be able to win this series.
Pittsburgh defeats Columbus. This may be the most one-sided playoff series. Columbus lack any proven scorers or top defencemen. Pittsburgh has far too much talent to lose in the first round.
Montreal defeat Tampa Bay. Montreal clearly wins the goaltending battle with Ben Bishop hurt. Tampa will miss Martin St Louis. It's far easier to shut down Steve Stamkos if he is the only star forward on the Lightning.
NY Rangers defeat Philadelphia. The goaltending match-up is Henrik Lundqvist against Steve Mason. I think that is all that needs to be said to explain why the Rangers are favored.
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