Well hello ladies and gentleman, it’s about that time again! Time for the weather to turn good and us to go back to the rink for the fight for Lord Stanley’s Cup. Who will win it this year? Will a team from New York bring it back to the Garden? Will the Los Angeles Kings have another Black Parade down Hollywood Boulevard? Will Alexander Ovechkin finally win one for the Capitals or will the Red Wings make their 25th consecutive playoff appearance a championship season? First we have to get through the first round, so lets see who wins, or rather who I think will win. Here are my official predictions for the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Season Series: Florida Won 2 out of 3
First Game: April 14 at 8p.m.
Analysis: This is the Panthers series to lose. The Islanders have had problems with this team all year and despite having John Tavares, he hasn’t been very effective with only 70 points in 78 games. On top of that, not having Anders Lee is going to limit this team even further. The Panthers have a good goalie in Roberto Luongo along with timeless legend Jaromir Jagr. Expect this series to last for a bit but not too long.
Prediction: Panthers in 5.
Season Series: Teams split all four games
First Game: April 13 at 7p.m.
Analysis: Detroit is being given a golden opportunity to make a serious run at the Cup. First and foremost, this fight for the wild card position had the team scrapping against the Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers, two incredibly good teams has made them red-hot on offense and defense. With that fight, Detroit pushed themselves above the Wild Card slots and into third place in their division. Secondly, they will want to send star player Pavel Datsyuk out on a high note, if he does plan to retire from the NHL after the season is over. Tampa has some serious issues. First, the heart of their offense Steven Stamkos is out for the entire playoffs, and they also lost their defensive guru in Anton Stralman. Don’t expect this series to last long, but don’t be surprised if it goes more than 6 games.
Prediction: Red Wings in 6.
Season Series: Teams split all four games
First Game: April 14 at 7p.m.
Analysis: Philly has no chance. Washington is playing on all cylinders, and despite the fact that they went 4-3-3 in their final games this season, Philly is going up against a team that scores the most goals and gives up the fewest in the East. I think that Washington is going up against a potential Stanley Cup winner, and with the tear Washington has been on, it’s going to be hard putting them down. I expect Ovechkin to get at least 2 hat tricks in this series
Prediction: Washington in 5.
Season Series: Penguins won three out of four games
First Game: April 13 at 8p.m.
Analysis: This matchup should be fun. The Rangers aren’t really a team I’ve kept an eye on this season, but after watching the Red Wings final game of the season against them, I pretty certain this team is going to provide a challenge to the Penguins.
But then you realize that the Penguins have Sidney Crosby, the Aaron Rodgers of hockey. While this series will go the distance, I think the fact that the Penguins having Crosby, with the possibility of Evgeni Malkin and Marc-Andre Fleury playing somewhat in this series will be a factor.
Prediction: Penguins in 6
Season Series: Dallas won four out of five games
First Game: April 14 at 9:30p.m.
Analysis: Dallas is going to dominate this series. Even without top center Tyler Seguin, Dallas is still dangerous especially on power plays and 10th best in penalty killing. I don’t think that Minnesota can keep up but it will be fun seeing Minnesota play underdog.
Prediction: Stars in 5
Season Series: Blues won three out of five games
First Game: April 13 at 9:30p.m.
Analysis: This series is must watch. St. Louis is coming into the series winning 8 out of its last 10 games, while Chicago has had less success with a record of 5-2-3. Now what would normally give me cause to pause on picking the Blues is the fact Chicago has managed to beat them three years in a row.
But this year Chicago won’t have Duncan Keith due to suspension and St. Louis is a much tougher team than they were the last 2 seasons. Expect a knockout, drag out fight.
Prediction: Chicago in 7
Season Series: Nashville won two out of three games.
First Game: April 15 at 10:30p.m.
Analysis: Welcome to the series that barely any hockey fan cares about. Not saying either of these teams don’t have a shot ,but it’s not like we are expecting spectacular play from both of them in this series.
Anaheim is playing good hockey since Christmas, and actually have won the Pacific Division title. The Predators have done the same but since making roster changes and getting off the snide after the All-Star game. This series is going to come down to which breaks first: Nashville’s ability to score goals or Anaheim’s ability to not let any game be close enough for Nashville to squeak by.
Prediction: Ducks in 7
Los Angeles Kings vs San Jose Sharks
Season Series: San Jose won three out of five games
First Game: April 14 at 10:30p.m.
Analysis: This is not the team that San Jose wanted to play. Los Angeles has beaten this team two times in the postseason. Consecutively. I think the Kings will wipe the floor with this team, even if San Jose finds a way to win a game.
Prediction: San Jose in 6.
Well those are my predictions for the next round, what are your predictions for the playoffs? Leave a comment down below, and come back here at the end of the first round to see my predictions for the second round.