1) Vancouver Canucks Vs 8) Los Angeles Kings
First off, let me remind you that the President’s Trophy is a curse. Trust me, I watched Detroit win it enough as a kid, and promptly follow it up with a spectacular exit in the playoffs. That said, this won’t be the series that finds the Canucks on their ass. Nobody in the cluster at the bottom of the West played well enough to deserve a playoff spot, much less a trip to round 2. The Canucks will just have to hope to come out healthy, which is tough, because they’re weak.
Canucks in 5
2) St Louis Blues Vs 7) San Jose Sharks
St Louis is having a banner year, while the Sharks haven’t looked worse than this in years. And remember, the biggest knock on the Sharks is that they choke in the playoffs. Although, if no one thinks you can win, and you lose, is it really choking? Guess we’ll find out.
Blues in 6
3) Phoenix Coyotes Vs 6) Chicago Blackhawks
Don’t let the rankings fool you, the only reason Phoenix is in 3rd is because the NHL thinks winning your crappy division should count for something. The Coyotes do always bring heat in the playoffs, and they might catch Chicago slipping in one or two games, but the Hawks have no excuse to lose this one.
Blackhawks in 6
4) Nashville Predators Vs 5) Detroit Red Wings This will be the highlight series in the Western Conference, with the only major bummer being that one of these two will not be playing in 2 weeks. These two teams split their regular season series, 3 games each, so we already know they’re evenly matched. The Wings have more post season experience, but the Preds play far more physical hockey. I like the Wings to win a tough one, mostly because I’m completely biased, but they’ll be sore when the dust clears.
Red Wings in 7
1) New York Rangers Vs 8) Ottawa Senators
It seems rather silly that the city of Ottawa is spending so much money to replace all the street signs on Elgin Street to say Sens Mile, when they’ll just have to change them again in 2 weeks. The Senators plunge in the last month has been incredible, and I doubt the Rangers are the team to let them turn it around.
Rangers in 5
2) Boston Bruins Vs 7) Washington Capitals
At the beginning of the season, people were shouting repeat champs from the rooftops. Then, the Bruins hit a slump, and suddenly everyone got real quiet. They climbed back up, and won the division, but still, no one is talking about a repeat. Personally, I don’t think they will win the cup again, but what I do know is that their recent level of play should be more than enough to take on the chronically underachieving Capitals.
Bruins in 5
3) Florida Panthers Vs 6) New Jersey Devils
Florida is a lot like Phoenix in the West, high in the standings, thanks to a technicality. The Devils are nothing to write home about either though. It’s weird to say it, but I’m going to take 3rd ranked Florida as my upset special in the first round. No real reason why, call it a hunch.
Panthers in 7
4) Pittsburgh Penguins Vs 5) Philadelphia Flyers
I don’t know if I would normally predict this as a 7 game series, but I’m going to call it for one, mostly because that’s what I’m hoping for. This will be a rough, exciting series, between two teams with some legit bad blood. 3 things I’m hoping for in this one, Hartnell scores at least 3 solid muck and grind goals, we get at least 1 line brawl per game, and someone knocks out Sid Crysby in game freaking 1.