Guilaume Sirois

2014 NHL Playoffs (1st round)

by GuillaumeSirois

The NHL playoffs start tonight and as usual, I will try to predict the outcome of each matchup. Last year, I had 12 good predictions out of 15 (80%) and it was easily my best year so far. I’ll try to be as good this year!

In the east, the Boston Bruins will square off against the Detroit Red Wings. The B’s will prevail in this one, but it might be closer than expected for the President’s trophy winner. The Red Wings have many key injuries but they always have surprise players to pick up the available ice time. When all is said and done, the Bruins physicality and depth will have made the difference.

Tampa Bay will have to face the most glorious franchises of them all, the Montreal Canadiens. Everybody seem to think that Ben Bishop is a huge lost since Anders Lindback is raw. I believe that Lindback won’t be an issue: he’s had a very hot last regular season week and also had good numbers last year when he had more regular starts. However, I believe that the Canadiens will win this one. Carey Price will steal one or two games and the very young Lightning players will have too much pressure to retaliate.

The Pittsburgh Penguins will face a relative unknown of the playoffs, the Columbus Blue Jackets. Marc-Andre Fleury will have a ton of pressure after his big struggle in last year’s playoffs. The Blue Jackets will work hard in this one but they don’t have the firepower to win a 7 game series. It will be longer than expected, but the superstars packed Penguins will advance.

In a much anticipated matchup, the New York Rangers will have to face the Philadelphia Flyers. That’s the series I will match the most closely in the east this year. Both teams have forces and weaknesses and are pretty much equally matched. They also both have playoff like players. Even if the Rangers have the home-ice advantage, I think that the Flyers will win one game at the Madison Square Garden and take the momentum. The Flyers should win this one.

In the west, the Avalanche took the opportunity that they had to finish first in their division and face the much more available Minnesota Wild. However, that won’t be an easy task. The Wild have key elements (Parise, Koivu, Suter, Granlund and so on) that will make things difficult for the Avs. I like the forward depth of Colorado and they should not have a problem in net. I’ll take the Avalanche to win this one, but that will be a long series.

The fact that the St-Louis Blues and the Chicago Blackhawks meet in the first round is a testament about the parity that exist in this league. Both teams are amongst the favorites to win the Stanley Cup yet only one will go to the next round. The Blues had a pretty rough end of the regular season, to say the least. The Blackhawks had very good success in the last couple of years and they should be able to come on top. Once again, I think it will be a good and long series and the winner of this one will be tired for the second round.

It’s good to see the Dallas Stars back in the playoff picture. However, they will have to face a very good team in the Anaheim Ducks. The Ducks have a lot of key players and their dynamic duo of Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf could make a huge difference. Even if Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin can be equally good, the depth of the Anaheim Ducks will be the major difference.

In an all Californian matchup, the Los Angeles Kings will face the San Jose Sharks. I repeat myself each and every year but I believe that the Los Angeles Kings have a playoff based team. Their players thrive under these circumstances. The Sharks on the other end always have good team but disappoint more often than not. Even if San Jose has the home-ice advantage, my pick goes to the Los Angeles.

Boston vs Detroit
Tampa Bay vs Montreal
Pittsburgh vs Columbus
New York vs Philadelphia

Colorado vs Minnesota
St-Louis vs Chicago
Anaheim vs Dallas
San Jose vs Los Angeles