2016-17 Stanley Cup Playoff predictions- Round 1
Steve Paris TBMG Hockey writer
Well the NHL brackets are set and it’s time to look at who’s going to move onto round 2.
Round one of the Stanley Cup playoffs is always the most exciting as the teams are full of energy and the possibility for upsets are high. Here is a no-nonsense prediction without the nauseating Corsi, PDO and FenClose stats.
Montreal Canadians vs New York Rangers
The Habs are back in the playoffs after an absence last year due mostly to Carey Price being injured. The Habs have rebuilt their defense by adding a strong leader in Shea Weber and Price is healthy and ready to go in net. The Rangers have been an average team for several years and although they have excellent goaltending with Lundqvist, I don’t think they have the firepower to beat the Habs. Habs have a better coach too that has something to prove after being fired by Boston.
Pick: Montreal in 6
Ottawa Senators vs Boston Bruins
Home ice advantage will be big for the Ottawa Senators. With their acquisitions at the deadline and the addition of super pest Alex Burrows, this team may surprise those that choose to overlook them.
It’s nice to see that the Bruins have made the playoffs. They have changed their coach and the mean old Bruins will want to go in and play their aggressive physical style of play. If Tuukka Rask stands on his head, we may see the Bruins move on.
Pick: Ottawa in 6
Washington Capitals vs Toronto Maple Leafs
Washington is primed and ready to go again this year. There has been more creativity in their play and Ovechkin is now a solid two-way player due to his commitment to defense and passing the puck.
The Leafs just squeaked into the playoffs and although they have fantastic coaching and phenom Auston Matthews, they lack the playoff experience and goaltending to make it past round one.
Pick: Washington in 5
Pittsburgh Penguins vs Columbus Blue Jackets
This series has serious upset potential. The Pittsburgh Penguins are the defending champs and victims of what is called “The Stanley Cup Hangover”. The Penguins are coming into this series to face a buzz saw in the Blue Jackets. Pittsburgh will be missing their top defenseman Kris Letang and some of their lunch pail guys are injured also and not expected to be back until later in the playoffs. John Tortorella will have his team ready to block shots and wanting to neutralize Sidney Crosby in any way possible.
Pick: Columbus in 7
Chicago Blackhawks vs Nashville Predators
Nashville got off to a slow start this year and just made it into the playoffs. For a team that traded for PK Subban, they should have had a better season.
Chicago is primed and ready to go. They are deep in all positions and have a lot of firepower along with solid coaching and strong team chemistry. They are ready to go deep and show the world that they are a hockey dynasty.
Pick: Chicago in 5
Minnesota Wild vs the St Louis Blues
Sometimes a coaching change makes a big difference. With Minnesota, potty-mouthed Bruce Boudreau has this team playing an entertaining style of hockey and not the trap-minded style from the Lemaire years. Devan Dubnyk has stood on his head this year in net and given the team a chance to go far.
The Blues traded Shattenkirk at the deadline and fired their coach to go back to Mike Yeo behind the bench. The Blues are the red headed step child of the Western Conference and they will have their hands full this time.
Pick: Minnesota in 7
Anaheim Ducks vs the Calgary Flames
This series is going to be a full out, grind out war. Anaheim has had Calgary\s number for many years and the Ducks are well balanced throughout their lineup. Freight train center Ryan Getzlaf and super jerk Ryan Kesler will have the top two lines playing hard.
Calgary has turned their season around with solid coaching and Brian Elliot is playing very well in net. I’m not sure that Calgary has the firepower to outscore the Ducks, therefore this pick will likely follow that logic.
Pick: Anaheim in 6
Edmonton Oilers vs San Jose Sharks
The San Jose Sharks are the other team in the playoffs that are suffering from the “ Stanley Cup Hangover”. They are looking good coming into the playoffs and this is likely the last year they will have Jumbo Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau in the lineup.
After a decade of missing the playoffs and high draft picks, the Edmonton Oilers are finally back in the playoffs. Art Ross trophy winner Connor McDavid will use his speed and excellent ice vision to try and lead this team the second round. This series will be speed vs experience and in this case, the experience will likely take the series.
Pick: San Jose in 6