The first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs have started and here are my predictions for how it will play out.
Washington (1) vs. Montreal (8)
The Capitals are hungry for a long playoff run and have built a team to win it all. I am sure Alexander Ovechkin is tired of seeing Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby have so much success and will use that motivation to carry the Capitals to the finals. Washington has only lost five times at home this year in regulation and Montreal is one of those teams to beat them, but it won't be enough. Capitals win in five.
New Jersey (2) vs. Philadelphia (7)
The Devils have struggled during the last few playoffs; they have only won two rounds during the last four seasons. The play of Devils' goaltender Martin Brodeur will be the difference and the fact he was pulled during the Olympics will only fuel his fire. Regular season records mean nothing, so even though the Flyers won the season series 5-1 the Devils will dominate this series and win in five.
Buffalo (3) vs. Boston (6)
This series will be the battle of the goaltenders as the Bruins' Tuukka Rask and Sabres' Ryan Miller have been outstanding this year. Don't expect alot of scoring but you can bank on a lot of overtime games. This series will go seven games with Buffalo heading to the second round.
Pittsburgh (4) vs. Ottawa (5)
For the third time in four playoffs these two teams will battle. The loss of Alexei Kovalev will hurt the Senators' secondary scoring so the top line will have to be good if Ottawa is going to move on. The season series is tied 2-2, however, Ottawa's Brian Elliott finished the season with a better save percentage and goals against average then Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury. which will help the Senators upset the defending Stanley Cup Champions in six games.
San Jose (1) vs. Colorado (8)
Is this the year San Jose finally makes it out of the second round? No one picked the Avalanche to make it to the playoffs and no one will pick them to win the Stanley Cup. This series will be a great learning experience for the young Avs but the Sharks are hungry for playoff success and will win this series in five games.
Chicago (2) vs. Nashville (7)
The Blackhawks are loaded with offensive weapons, but there are too many questions in goal to give this one to Chicago. Nashville has scoring depth, great goaltending and a very solid defence. Nashville has never won a playoff series, but this is their year Nashville will beat Chicago in six.
Vancouver (3) vs. Los Angeles (6)
The Kings have not been in the playoffs since 2002 while the Canucks are still bitter over hearing "Chelsea Dagger" so many times in Chicago in last year's playoffs. Now that the games mean something, look for Roberto Luongo to take his game to another level to win this series in four and carry the Canucks to the finals.
Phoenix (4) vs. Detroit (5)
Phoenix is another team no one predicted would finish in the playoffs, let alone with home-ice advantage. Detroit has been one of the best teams, if not the best team, down the stretch and are red hot right now. The Coyotes have never won a playoff series, in fact the last time this organization won a playoff series was 1987 back in Winnipeg, and that trend will continue. The Red Wings are healthy and playing their best hockey right now, which gives them the series in six.