NHL Playoffs: Round 1 Predictions
Montreal brings pride and tradition to Washington for the opening two games of their series but the home team has something far more powerful in its favor; Alexander Ovechkin. Of the eight first round match-ups none look quite as lopsided as the Capitals series with the Canadiens. The Habs may have won Lord Stanley’s Cup more times than any other franchise but they could well be the first playoff team to fall out of contention this year. Montreal stumbled down the stretch and while most teams find the NHL playoffs gruelling, the conference quarterfinals will feel like a tune-up for the Capitals. Bet on Washington to win big with Sports Interaction.
Seedings often count for little in the playoffs and nowhere does that ring true more than in the battle between the Devils and the Flyers. New Jersey finished second in the Eastern Conference but struggled consistently when up against Philadelphia throughout the season. Post-season games are about match-ups and this will be no exception. The Flyers have the Devils worked out. Come Sunday night I expect Philadelphia to hold a 2-1 lead in a series they will win in six games.
The defending Stanley Cup Champions look in good shape to make it through the Conference quarter finals. Pittsburgh faces an Ottawa team which gave the Penguins a good test during the season. The experience of going all the way last season will stand to Sid the Kid and friends in this one and I expect them to get off to a flying start in the series this weekend.
Out west the Sharks have a tough challenge against Colorado. San Jose may have been best in the conference in the regular season but found the Avalanche a difficult team to beat throughout the year. San Jose is good enough to win through in this one but I expect Colorado to pick off at least one of this weekend’s games and for the series to go six or seven games.
The other front-runner, Chicago, has a more favorable tie with Nashville. The Blackhawks dominated the Predators throughout the season, most importantly they look far stronger in the most recent two games against Nashville. This could go five games but I like Chicago to sweep Nashville. No mention of the playoffs would be complete without a look at last year’s Western Conference Champions, the Detroit Red Wings. Detroit and Phoenix are the two most evenly matched sides in the post-season. I expect the hunger and youth of the Coyotes to win through and bring them to the Conference Semi Finals, but only after seven games. Back Phoenix to win big with Sports Interaction.