Stanley Cup Playoffs – Round 1 (East) Predictions

 

stanleycup2009-east (1st Round Predictions)

Every year as the NHL regular season wraps up, I find myself attempting to make predictions as to which teams will advance through the playoffs. 

This year is no different… so I’ve decided to break down my thoughts regarding the upcoming playoff series’ of the Eastern Conference.  The Western Conference predictions will be posted tomorrow.

(1) Boston Bruins vs. (8) Montreal Canadians
Prediction: Boston 4-2

The Bruins lineup has been solid from top to bottom all year long.  They have very few holes, have one of the best shut-down defenders in the game in Zdeno Chara, and are a tough enough team to push Montreal around a bit.

This series will be feature the hard-nosed gritty play of Boston versus the fancy stick-work and creativity of Montreal… It says here that Montreal will have problems finding space to work with the puck, and Tim Thomas (pictured right) will be good enough to stop them whenever they do. 

Without Andrei Markov, Montreal will not only have trouble on the powerplay, but also in supporting Carey Price against Boston’s very deep and aggressive forward core.

This series will by no means be a cake walk though, as there is a lot of history between these two teams.  Nothing should be taken for granted by the Bruins, and the Canadians will probably steal a couple of games before everything is said and done.

(2) Washington Capitals vs. (7) NY Rangers
Prediction: Washington 4-1

This is a series in which a lot of people are picking “the upset,” and I don’t understand why.  While Lundqvist is an amazing goalie, past playoffs have proved that a goalie alone is not good enough. 

This Rangers team has vastly changed since bringing John Tortorella on as their head coach, but they are just not deep enough up front, or on defense to win out over one of the highest scoring teams in the league.  The Capitals have 3 players who have scored more goals than anyone on the Rangers team, and Alexander Ovechkin (pictured left) has more than doubled the best goal-scorer on the Rangers with his output alone.

Lundqvist will steal a game for the Rangers, but will not receive support the rest of the series.  The Capitals should make it through to the next round with ease.

(3) New Jersey Devils vs. (6) Carolina Hurricanes
Prediction: Carolina 4-3

Cam Ward (pictured left) and the Carolina Hurricanes have been absolutely amazing the last month or so.  They are every bit back to their Stanley Cup winning form… and much of their team is actually quite similar to the team that won a few years ago. 

The Devils are experiencing some injuries with star player Patrik Elias, and Martin Brodeur has looked a little shaky down the stretch.  Jersey is still one of the deepest, most dangerous teams out there, but the Carolina Hurricanes are skilled, putting up goals in bunches, and getting amazing saves from their young net-minder.  That is a recipe for success in the playoffs for the Canes, and a possible recipe for disaster for the NJ Devils.

This series will be a very close one, with goaltending being a stalemate.  The difference will come on the offensive side of the puck (an area where, quite frankly… the Hurricanes have the advantage).

(4) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. (5) Philadelphia Flyers
Prediction: Philadelphia 4-3

Here’s another upset pick, and one that I’m somewhat hesitant to make after last year’s Eastern Conference Final series. 

Things have changed though.  The Penguins have Bill Guerin and Chris Kunitz this year instead of Mark Recchi and Marian Hossa.  Also, Philadelphia now has 3 absolutely dynamite forward scoring lines (with the emergence of Claude Giroux and Jeff Carter), which is something they didn’t have last year.

The Flyers are one of the grittier teams in the Eastern Conference, and once the playoffs start, teams that play that style are often rewarded with success for doing so.  They also have a goalie who is incredibly good when he’s on his game (as he was last year during the playoffs). 

Sadly for the Penguins there’s maybe 1 or 2 Eastern Conference teams that match up well enough against them to eliminate them from the playoffs, and Phili is one of them.  With gritty play and defensive responsible forwards like Mike Richards (pictured above), Jeff Carter, and Scott Hartnell, the Flyers will give the Penguins and their rookie coach everything they can handle.

The one wild card in this series will be Jordan Staal.  If Staal can find success early on, it will be that much harder for the Flyers to match up against Malkin and Crosby.  Without Staal’s success however, I think the Penguins will be hard pressed to find any room to generate dangerous scoring chances.

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2 Responses to “Stanley Cup Playoffs – Round 1 (East) Predictions”

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