Detroit vs Calgary - Calgary in 6
I think Detroit is too soft to compete with Calgary if they forecheck hard all series. The older D for the Wings will get banged up early, and Hasek will look for a way out after losing 2 of the first 3 games. I would also take Calgary's Superstar players over Detroit's in a tough series. The one problem Calgary may have is behind the bench. Babcock has a lot of experience, and Jim Playfair's never been the main man behind the bench during the playoffs.
Anaheim vs Minnesota - Ducks in 7
At least 3 of these games will go to OT, and 5 will be decided by one goal. In the end it'll come down to goaltending and I'll take Giggy over Backstrom or Manny. The Ducks picked up Pronger for the playoffs, and he'll earn his money playing around 30 minutes a game. Neidermeyer will play the other 30 minutes, and the only time neither will be on the ice, will be during the intermissions.
Vancouver vs Dallas – Dallas in 6
This is a hunch that Turco will end his playoff curse. I think Dallas is deeper, and getting healthy at the right time. Vancouver will need timely goals, and Luongo to play like hes been there before if they're going to win. One thing that Vancouver has going for them is their D is tough to play against, and as long as Mitchell, Ohlund and Bieksa stay healthy they'll be in every game.
San Jose vs Nashville - San Jose in 6
San Jose is deep and talented. I don't think you can stop them from scoring, but you have to make them work for it. If Nashville, wants to win this series they’re going to need to want it more. They also need players like Tootoo and Nichol to play tough and gritty (even a little bit dirty). They have to turn this into a banging series, and hope to get some of the Sharks (Thorton/ Guerin) to start running around looking for retribution. If Voukon or Mason stands on their head and stops everything that would help as well.
Sabres vs Isles - Sabres in 5
Buffalo is just too good offensively. The Islanders put on their glass slippers to make it into the playoffs, but I think theyll fall off pretty quickly. If the Islanders can get their 15 year goalie back they may be able to stretch this series out a little bit.
Devils vs Lightning - Devils in 6
It's all about goaltending. Brodeur is great (maybe the greatest), and Thomas Holmqvist is not. I think Tampas big three (and their experience) will win a couple, but it won't be enough to win the series. The Devils will once again be the team that nobody wants to play.
Atlanta vs NYR - NYR in 7
This is a tough series that can go either way. I think the teams are similar. Each team has great offensive players (Hossa, Kovalchuk,Kozlov/Jagr,Nylander, Straka), each team has tough veterans who can score (Tkachuk/Shanny) and each team has young European goalies who can steal games. So, I think it comes down to the intangibles, and I think it'll be tougher for the Thrashers to win in MSG than it will be for the Rangers to win in Phillips Arena.
Ottawa vs Pittsburgh - Ottawa in 6
Should be the most exciting series in the first round. I think playoff experience will be the big difference here. Im also concerned with Fleury in net for Pittsburgh. I don't think the Penguins D are deep enough to stop Ottawa from getting 30 to 35 shots a game. And slowly Fleury will falter handing the series to the Sens.
(Of course a superstar like Sidney Crosby could carry his team to the second round.)
If I dont look like an idiot after the first round I'll post my second round predictions.