It’s a wide open race this year. Los Angeles isn’t in, San Jose isn’t in, Boston isn’t there! Detroit and Pittsburgh had to fight to the very end to make it. Looks like it could be a changing of the guard season. I have a couple of personal formulas I use to make these choices
1) Has this CURRENT team made their bones in the playoffs
This isn’t as important now as it was a few years ago. Most teams with a couple of exceptions need to learn to lose and get past it to win ‘The Cup’
2) Is this team a contender?
Usually this an affirmative yes! Ok occasionally some team comes from a low seed gets a couple of breaks along the way and wins it (LA Kings in 2012). Most of the time though they’re usually a contender and have been so for a couple of years
3) Best player, past winner
Personal reasons I almost always give the previous Stanley Cup winner a series or two the following season. Again there have been exceptions and Los Angeles isn’t there this year. Carey Price and Alexander Ovechkin are though. Alexander appears to suffer from European player disease, this is a disease that affects a lot of European Players that don’t seem to get how big a deal the Stanley Cup is here in North America. But they crank it up at the Worlds (Are you reading this SEDIN TWINS!) Carey Price is the best player this year at the most critical position in the game.
4) Playoff history
Some teams just never do well in the Playoffs Washington Capitals, St Louis Blues, San Jose Sharks and surprise the Calgary Flames have a bad habit of not showing up in the Playoffs. Other teams Montreal Canadiens, Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Islanders, Boston Bruins and most Canadian teams generally perform better in the playoffs than what was expected.
But well here you go enjoy and feel free to disagree with me
New York Rangers over Pittsburgh Penguins
Pittsburgh pretty much owes it’s playoff appearance to the fact that Boston ALSO choked down the stretch. Rangers are ready and it could be said that they’re the odds on favorite this year
Montreal Canadiens over Ottawa Senators
I’m going with Montreal because they arguably have the best player in the game this year in Carey Price. If Carey is on his game this one could be a sweep for Montreal. If not it’ll be a 7 game slugfest.
Tampa Bay Lightning over Detroit Red Wings
Detroit also damn near faltered at the end as well. Tampa is a slightly better team but Detroit will not go easy. If there’s a first round that could against me it’s this one. Another going the distance series in the first round
New York Islanders over Washington Capitals
New York has had a tradition of performing well in the playoffs, Washington except for 1998 hasn’t. This is the last stand at Nassau as well. So I’m giving this one to New York unless…Alexander Ovechkin suddenly decides that the Stanley Cup Playoffs mean something
Anaheim Ducks over Winnipeg Jets
Don’t get me wrong here I’m happy as hell that Winnipeg made it. They’re going up a against a team that is considerably better than they are. Winnipeg won’t go quietly but they’ll probably go in the first round.
Minnesota Wild over St Louis Blues
No disrespect to St Louis but they’ve got a decades long track record of not getting it done in the playoffs. Given how Minnesota played down the stretch I got a bad feeling about St Louis AGAIN!
Chicago Black Hawks over Nashville Predators
WHY! Because Chicago has been there and Nashville hasn’t that’s why. Chicago has earned their stripes. Nashville needs to discover what it’s like to play in a tough series. They may even get schooled here
Vancouver Canucks over Calgary Flames
Picking Vancouver for two reasons 1) They’ve been there before and 2) Vancouver has traditionally had or nearly had Calgary’s number in the past. Vancouver has to have the foot down and keep it down the whole way for this to happen though
EARLY CUP CHOICE
Montreal Canadians over Chicago Black Hawks IF Carey plays his best if not
New York Rangers over Chicago Black Hawks in a marathon series!
West–Vancouver Canucks yes, Vancouver they’ll be up against Anaheim in the second round and this current Anaheim team has a history of not getting it done.
East–New York Islanders Last hurrah at Nassau again. And they would love NOTHING more than spoiling it for the Rangers in the likely second round matchup.