Five-Minute First Round NHL Playoff Predictions

The increased drive and dedication shown by everyone from all-stars to enforcers during the run for the Cup is truly unlike any other professional sport in North America. There’s something different about the NHL Playoffs that other sports simply can’t match. The intensity and skill seems to increase on a nightly basis in the few short months leading up to the battle for the Cup.

For one reason or another, every fan has an opinion on who they think is going to win each series from start to finish. Sometimes it’s based on statistics from the regular season. Other times it’s nothing more than a gut instinct. Either way, someone has to win, so you might as well take some guesses.

Based on five-minutes of intensive research (read: looking up some basic stats like who won the season series) and even more intensive reflection on that research, I present my five-minute first round predictions.

Eastern Conference:

(1) New York (Rangers) vs (8) Ottawa
Winner: New York
Games: 5
Reason: Henrik Lundqvist…need I say more?

(2) Boston vs (7) Washington
Winner: Boston
Games: 6
Reason: Although Boston struggled to get wins in the final quarter of the season, Washington struggled even more. Despite questions regarding goal tending, the Bruins should have enough left in the tank to make it passed Washington, although the Caps may put up more of a fight them some expect. The Caps look to keep the tradition going with an early exit from the playoffs in spite of a highly talent roster.

(3) Florida vs (6) New Jersey
Winner: NJ
Games: 6
Reason: Florida may be the higher ranked team (due to winning their first-ever division title), but they still ended the season eight points behind New Jersey. The Panthers may be a threat in future years, but in this instance experience will be the difference between who gets to keep lacing up their skates and who gets to dust off the golfing shoes.

(4) Pittsburgh vs (5) Philadelphia
Winner: Philadelphia
Games: 7
Reason: Easily the most exciting series of the first round, this one really could go either way. It wouldn’t be the playoffs if there weren’t goaltending issues in Philly. However, if Bryzgalov can keep up his recent level of play and the Flyers can shut down Crosby and Malkin they can squeeze by in seven…but those are some big “ifs.”

Western Conference:

(1) Vancouver vs (8) Los Angeles
Winner: Vancouver
Games: 5
Reason: Los Angeles simply won’t be able to match the firepower of the Canucks.

(2) St Louis vs (7) San Jose
Winner: St. Louis
Games: 6
Reason: San Jose looks to continue to be totally and completely inept once the playoffs begin and the Blues have looked like surprisingly strong since Ken Hitchcock took over coaching duties in November.

(3) Phoenix vs (6) Chicago
Winner: Phoenix
Games: 6
Reason: The Tampa Bay Lightning are kicking themselves for letting go of goaltender Mike Smith. The Phoenix goalie has been phenomenal all season, but has been playing exceptionally well recently. Sound defence and exceptional goaltending will get the Coyotes through the first round.

(4) Nashville vs (5) Detroit
Winner: Detroit
Games: 7
Reason: Another exciting series that could go either way, I’m making this pick based solely on the fact that it seems wrong for Detroit to make an early exit from the playoffs.

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