A person does not have to be a huge hockey fan to enjoy the NHL playoffs. Most agree Lord Stanley’s Cup is the best trophy in sports because of the tradition and history. On Tuesday, 16 teams will play for Lord Stanley’s Cup, to literally have their names etched into history.
- Chicago Blackhawks (36-7-5) vs. 8. Minnesota Wild (26-19-3)
Season Series: Blackhawks 2-0-1
The Blackhawks are the obvious favorites to win the Stanley Cup. They dominated the Western Conference and have very few flaws. However, a few teams gave them a little trouble and one was the Wild. The Hawks will win the series, but it will go to five or six games.
2. Anaheim Ducks (30-12-6) vs. 7. Detroit Red Wings (24-16-8)
Season Series: Detroit 2-1
The Ducks looked like they could give the Hawks a challenge in the West, but fell in the second half of the short season. The Red Wings barely got into the playoffs, but they have the playoff experience and enter on a hot streak. Their star players are more consistent. The Red Wings will win in six or seven games.
3. Vancouver Canucks (26-15-7) vs. 6. San Jose Sharks (25-16-7)
Season Series: San Jose 3-0
San Jose won the season series, but the Canucks enter the playoffs with many problems. They cannot decide on a goaltender and their defense is plagued with injuries. The Sharks have the talent, but they need to show up. I still think the Canucks will win in six.
4. St. Louis Blues (29-17-2) vs. 5. Los Angeles Kings (27-16-5)
Season Series: Kings 3-0
The fourth and fifth seed series is never easy to pick and this one is no different. The two teams are pretty much equal on power play and penalty killing too. But the reigning Stanley Cup champions have the upper edge with their defense. They should win in six or seven. This will be the most physical series of the playoffs though.
- Pittsburgh Penguins (36-12-0) vs. 8. New York Islanders (24-17-7)
Season Series: Penguins 4-1
The Penguins suffered so many injuries with stars Sidney Crosby, reigning MVP Geno Malkin, and Kris Letang, but they still won the East. Crosby is recovering from a broken jaw and does not know when he will return. The Islanders will push the Penguins, but the Penguins will win in six. Maybe seven.
2. Montreal Canadiens (29-14-5) vs. 7. Ottawa Senators (25-17-6)
Season Series: Tied 1-0-1
The Habs started strong, but struggled late in the season. Star goalie Carey Price declined a few weeks ago after wearing new pads. If he can adjust to them he could return to his early season form. But the defense has to help out. Price can only do so much. Even if the defense does help Price they have to score on the league’s best goalie. Craig Anderson is back from injury and led in goals-against average (1.69) and save percentage (.941) Ottawa in six.
3. Washington Capitals (27-18-3) vs. 6. New York Rangers (26-18-4)
Season Series: Rangers 2-0-1
To say the Rangers underperformed this season is an understatement. High expectations in the offseason with the signing of Rick Nash and they get in at the last minute. Both teams ride into the playoffs on a hot streak. The Caps boast Alex Ovechkin, the league’s goal leader, but the Rangers have hot goalie Henrik Lundqvist. This series will be brutal, but the Rangers will win it in six. Do not be surprised if they take it to seven.
4. Boston Bruins (28-14-6) vs. 5. Toronto Maple Leafs
Season Series: Bruins 3-1
The Leafs were brushed off in the beginning of the season after the firing of their GM. They looked like they were a royal mess. Yet, they picked up and earned a place in the playoffs. But their defense cannot match up to the Bruins offense and their goalie Tuuka Rask. Boston could take this series in five or six games.
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