Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Stanley Cup Playoffs First Round Predictions 2014

It’s hockey playoffs again.  It’s time for the annual Stanley Cup Playoff Predictions post.  This year I’ve assembled my own panel of experts (actually, one of them assembled the panel for me).  Each round I’ll give you the panel’s picks and my commentary on why the others on the panel are wrong.  To protect them from shame, I have changed their names.  I also made the mistake of letting them pick their own fake names.  They are pretty juvenile.

Let’s start in the weaker Eastern Conference

Philadelphia Flyers vs. New York Rangers

The Rangers were on TV every night again this year,  between NBC, NBC Sports and the NHL Channel.  The Flyers made the playoffs again.  The Rangers struggled early but got better as the season wore on.  Plus they have Henrik Lundqvist.  He’s good, they tell me. This year, the Flyers spun their ever changing wheel of goaltenders and are starting….Steve Mason?  Luckily for the Flyers, the Steven Mason who was rookie of the year has re-emerged (not the Steve Mason who was a total train wreck in his last season in Columbus.  Unfortunately, now a goaltender for the Flyers and if you've ever watched the Flyers in the playoffs, you know what happens to their goalies.  The Rangers will score just enough goals to win this series in 6.

Pittsburgh Penguins vs.  Columbus Blue Jackets

The Blue Jackets are back in the playoffs after their best season ever, which really isn't saying much.  The Penguins, despite a ridiculous amount of injuries, still locked up their division and the second seed.  Will Malkin be healthy enough to play or will Pittsburgh be completely shut down like they were against Boston last year?  Maybe the sting from that series will drive the Penguins to succeed.  Maybe Columbus plays out of this world and wins this series riding Bobrovsky all the way.  Probably not.  Penguins in 6.

Detroit (Sucks) Red Wings vs. Boston Bruins

The fact that the Red Wings made the playoffs for the hundredth straight season despite a mountain of injuries that had them starting an AHL team for the second half of the season is pretty spectacular.  The Bruins were the best and most consistent team for the entire season and there are a lot of people who would love to see Jerome Iginla hoist the Cup over his head in June.  Boston is too much for the Red Wings to overcome.  Bruins in 5.

Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Montreal Canadians

I’m not really sure why I’m picking the Lightning.  I think it was because when I looked at the standings, I was surprised to see that Montreal made the playoffs.  I don’t know why.  In two weeks I’ll probably be kicking myself for picking them, but Steve Stamkos rocks.  Tampa Bay in 6.

On to the dominant Western Conference

Chicago Blackhawks vs. St. Louis Blues

Both teams struggled down the stretch: the Hawks a little, the Blues a lot, enough to lose the division title to Colorado and to get the defending Stanley Cup Champs as a first round opponent instead of the powder puff Minnesota Wild.  Both teams had significant injuries at the end of the season, Toews and Kane for Chicago and Backes, Oshie and Tarasenko for the Blues.  This will be the best first round series and probably comes down to which goalie raises his game.  Crawford has a little more margin for error than Miller as the Hawks score at a better clip.  It’s no surprise that our panelist in St. Louis picked the Blues while the rest of us pick the Hawks.  Hawks in 7.

Dallas Stars vs. Anaheim Ducks

I got to see the Stars play in Dallas last week as they eliminated Nashville from the playoffs.  They are a pretty good team, but will only go as far as Kari Lehtonen takes them.  He has had little playoff experience and even less success.  The Ducks are talented on both offense and defense, and held off a late charge by the Sharks to win the division.  This is the only series in the West we all agree on.  Ducks in 6.

Minnesota Wild vs. Colorado Avalanche

 I’m guessing Patrick Roy is going to win the Jack Adams award for coach of the year, which will give him something else to plug his ears so he can hear Jeremy Roenick’s whining Colorado started fast and finish strong, catching the Blues for the division title.  The Wild will be first round cannon fodder for the second straight season as they trot out whatever goaltender is healthy enough to play.  Colorado in 5

Los Angeles Kings vs. San Jose Sharks

What?  All three California teams are in the playoffs again?  And they all had great season?  And one of them has to go home in the first round.   The Kings and the Sharks met in the playoffs last season in an exciting series that went seven games before the Kings prevailed.  The Sharks retooled last off season and battle the Ducks all season long for the division title.  The Kings can go far if they get enough scoring and if Jonathan Quick stands on his head.  But don’t forget the Sharks have their own Stanley Cup winning goaltender in Antti Niemi (although he won it with another team).  This will be a fun one but the results will be the same as last year.  Kings in 7.
Here are our experts picks.

Clarence "Screaming Buffalo" Swamptown
Tim “Dr. Hook” McCracken
Throb Longpenis
Mike Smolarek
Eastern Conference
Philadelphia vs NY Rangers
NYR in 7
Philadelphia in 6
Philadelphia in 6
NYR in 6
Columbus vs Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh in 6
Pittsburgh in 6
Pittsburgh in 4
Pittsburgh in 7
Detroit vs Boston
Boston in 5
Boston in 7
Boston in 5
Boston in 5
Tampa Bay vs Montreal
Montreal in 5
Montreal in 6
Montreal in 6
Tampa Bay in 6
Western Conference
Chicago vs St. Louis
Chicago in 6
Chicago in 6
St. Louis in 6
Chicago in 7
Dallas vs Anaheim
Anaheim in 6
Anaheim in 6
Anaheim in 5
Anaheim in 6
Minnesota vs Colorado
Minnesota in 7
Minnesota in 6
Colorado in 7
Colorado in 5
Los Angeles vs San Jose
San Jose in 6
San Jose in 6
Los Angeles in 7
Los Angeles in 7


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