Washington Capitals v. Philadelphia Flyers
Tampa Bay Lightning v. Detroit Red Wings
New York Rangers v. Pittsburgh Penguins
New York Islanders v. Florida Panthers
Dallas Stars v. Minnesota Wild
St. Louis Blues v. Chicago Blackhawks
Anaheim Ducks v. Nashville Predators
Los Angeles Kings v. San Jose Sharks
PZ. The Capitals are the best team in the league, in the regular season. The Caps have yet to prove anything in the playoffs. This past summer, they changed that effort by adding Justin Williams and TJ Oshie to add onto the star talent in place with Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom. John Carlson had stood out as the number one defenseman in Washington, but they have tons of playoff experience with Brooks Orpik and Matt Niskanen. Braden Holtby has been a sensation all season long, and tied Martin Brodeur for most wins in a regular season (48).
2WC. The Philadelphia Flyers are a team that had a come together in the second half and pushed other teams ahead of them out. The Flyers rode a wave that had Shayne Gothsibehere since being recalled midway through the season. The Flyers also had success in their backup net-minder, Michael Neuvrith. He carried the load while Steve Mason was injured, including back to back shutouts to start off the season. The Flyers have their own star players too, including captain Claude Giroux and wingers Jakub Voracek and Wayne Simmonds.
Prediction: Washington in 7
2A. The Tampa Bay Lightning made the Stanley Cup Finals last season, and lost to the Chicago Blackhawks. The Bolts had a slow start to the year and could not get anything going. Around the midway point of the season, they got their act together and strung a nine game winning streak to make it into the playoffs. However, Steven Stamkos is out with blood clots and Anton Stralman has a broken leg; and the condition of Tyler Johnson is unknown. The Bolts have amazing goaltenders in Ben Bishop and Andrei Vaslevisky. Bishop was one of the best goalies in the league this year, but other goalies like Corey Crawford, Braden Holtby, and Cory Schneider have been taking the limelight from him.
3A. The Detroit Red Wings just backed in to the playoffs after playing horrendous hockey at the season's end. The Wings had difficulty with their goalies and the adjustment to a new head coach. However, they now have a purpose in the playoffs. There has been discussion that Pavel Datsyuk may retire and head over to the KHL.
Prediction: Detroit in 7
2M. The Pittsburgh Penguins have had quite the season. The Pens have add quality offense on offense and defense. They are liking the goalies they have, including their youngster. Even though they are battling injuries, expect three functioning lines of offense in the playoffs plus offense from the backend.
3M. The New York Rangers are a very talented team. They have elite net minding and star players on offense and defense. Injuries have been plaguing them lately, but all good teams overcome them.
Prediction: Penguins in 7
1A. The Florida Panthers have been the surprise team of the season. The veteran leaders in Jaromir Jagr, Willie Mitchell, and Roberto Luongo have helped their youngsters learn a winning culture and get them into the playoffs. This is also their first divisional title, so expectations are high for this team.
1WC. The New York Islanders are enjoying another year in the postseason with the help of star center John Tavares. They also had help from backup goaltender Thomas Greiss, who has been playing a lot lately due to the injuries to Jaroslav Halak and Jean-Francois Beurbe.
Prediction: Panthers in 7
Z. The Dallas Stars have made impressive acquisitions over the years, including Tyler Seguin, Jason Spezza, Patrick Sharp, and Antti Niemi. They have talented forwards, a weak defense, and a mediocre goaltending. Overall, this team as very talented and has what it takes to win it all.
2WC. The Minnesota Wild have had a tough time this year. The Wild have been inconsistent and had a coaching change to get into the playoffs. They are also lodged with injuries, including one to their captain.
Prediction: Dallas in 7.
2C. The St. Louis Blues have been battling for top spot all year, even though they were not focused on winning top in the conference. The Blues have added grit to their lineup in a quest to get deeper into the playoffs. They have been dealing with injuries, and there is doubt in their coaching staff and goalies.
3C. The Chicago Blackhawks have a talented squad and have what it takes to win 4 Stanley Cups in 7 years. Stan Bowman made great moves at the deadline, including adding Andrew Ladd, Dale Weise, Thomas Fleschimann, Matt Fraser, Jay Harrison, and Drew MacIntyre.
Prediction: Blackhawks in 7.
1P. The Anaheim Ducks came out of the gate as one of the worst teams in the league. After putting their heads on straight and trusting their head coach, the Ducks got on a winning streak that got them back into the playoffs and on top of their division in the end.
1WC. The Nashville Predators have had a bumpy road to get into the playoffs, including a time period where they were out of the playoffs. They made a trade with the Columbus Blue Jackets to get Ryan Johansen, and the rest is history.
Prediction: Anaheim in 7.
2P. After missing the playoffs last season, the Los Angeles Kings are back in it again and with a vengeance. They are a heavier squad with Milan Lucic and Vincent Lecaliver up front, and have a more veteran backup core with Jhonas Enroth and Peter Budaj. Overall, this team is a dominant team in the playoffs.
3P. The San Jose Sharks missed the playoffs last year as well, and made significant changes to their roster, including adding Peter DeBoer, Paul Martin, and Joel Ward. This team can have success, but their veterans need to step up.
Prediction: Kings in 7
What are your predictions? More to come…