Here are your matchups!
(1) New York Rangers vs. (8) Ottawa Senators
The Rangers are an obvious favourite here but I wouldn’t say this is a gimme. Weak offensive teams don’t have a long history of playoff success, and Ottawa did play well against New York this year. So I’ll pick the Rangers, but there’s upset potential here.
(2) Boston Bruins vs. (7) Washington Capitals
Conversely, I think Boston’s going to rip Washington apart. Even if Alex Ovechkin is hot I really don’t think the Caps have the blueline and goaltending ability to win a series against the Bruins.
(3) Florida Panthers vs. (6) New Jersey Devils
Florida went 38-44, and Washington went 42-40, but Florida is the division champion. God, the consolation point is stupid. Anyway, Florida is really a pretty bad team and are lucky to be in the playoffs, and I fully expect the Devils to wipe the floor with them.
(4) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. (5) Philadelphia Flyers
Oh my God, this is going to be a fantastic series. They hate each other. They’re both really good teams. You’ve got a great mix of styles, speed and skill versus strength and dirty play. They say the first round is often the best, and this is the series that will demonstrate it. I’ll take the Penguins, but I’ll be watching just for the fun of it.
(1) Vancouver Canucks vs. (8) Los Angeles Kings
On the radio today the talking heads were saying this is a potential upset because the Kings have great defence. That’s actually quite true, they do, but the problem is they’re also the second-worst offense in the entire NHL - that’s including the teams that DIDN’T make the playoffs, too. Even if you hold the other team to one goal you still lose if you score zero. Pick: Vancouver.
Oh, and I have to complain again; LA went 40-42. Dallas, playing in the same division, went 42-40 and isn’t in the playoffs. That’s a goddamned joke.
(2) St. Louis Blues vs. (7) San Jose Sharks
Like the Rangers, I’m skeptical of the Blues in that poor-scoring teams, even when they do well in the regular season, rarely sip from the Cup. So I don’t expect St. Louis to go all the way. That said, I don’t expect this to be the round where I’m proven right, if for no other reason than they’re up against Joe “Captain November” Thornton and the Sharks, whose postseason record ain’t dripping with glory. Pickin’ the Blues, but be worried if they lose a home game. They lost only 6 games at home in regulation time ALL YEAR, so winning at home is their thing.
(3) Phoenix Coyotes vs. (6) Chicago Blackhawks
Another weak 3-seed, but the Blackhawks have had a pretty inconsistent season, too. Honestly I don’t know who to pick here but the Blackhawks have the most success in general recently so I guess I’ll go with them.
(4) Nashville Predators vs. (5) Detroit Red Wings
Isn’t this like the fiftieth time these two teams have met in the playoffs? It’ll be a good matchup. Detroit, like St. Louis, is nearly unbeatable at home but was very weak on the road, so Nashville needs to hold serve; the old truism that you’re not in trouble until you lose on home ice is VERY true in this series. Like a lot of people, I admire the plucky, wonderfully coached and managed Predators and I kind of want them to succeed, but my brain says to pick the Red Wings.