NHL 1st Round Playoff Predictions

The first round of the NHL playoffs start tonight and my beloved Leafs have yet again failed to even sniff the postseason. So with the exception of my horrible Senators bias, these predictions will be fairly well thought out for once, rather than just going with my personal hatred of certain teams.

Buffalo vs. NY Islanders : Oh the Islanders are so bad. And Buffalo is so good. There is no way they can compete in this series, whether they have Rick Dipietro or not. Pick: Buffalo in 4

New Jersey vs. Tampa Bay : Many people believe this series will be close because of Tampa’s dangerous top line. I am not one of those people. I expect the Devils to run away with this one, behind the defensive backchecking of John Madden and the goaltending of Martin Brodeur. Tampa’s goaltending situation is the worst in the playoffs and it will show up against the Devils. Pick: Devils in 5

Atlanta vs. NY Rangers : Another series in which the underdog is getting way too much respect. Hossa and Kovalchuk are just too potent for that subpar NY defense. The only chance the Rangers have is if Henrik Lundqvist gets really hot, which we all know could happen. Otherwise Bobby Holik should control Jaromir Jagr enough to make him a non-factor and allow the Thrashers to advance easily. Pick: Atlanta in 5

Ottawa vs. Pittsburgh : Probably the best talent of any series will be on display in this one. I’m really torn as I believe the Sens will win this series in my brain, but my heart will not allow me to pick them. If Marc Andre Fleury holds his own, the Pens will have a shot. I’d love to see Gary Roberts score the series winner, just to put some more salt on the Ottawa wound. Don’t be surprised if Ray Emery chokes this series, I have a funny feeling he’s due. Pick: Pittsburgh in 7

Detroit vs. Calgary : Calgary is coming in cold. Detroit is coming in as Detroit. That should be enough for the Wings to advance easily. But that won’t happen. I think Mr. Kiprusoff is going to get red hot this series and lead the Flames to a stunning victory and another first round stunning exit for the Wings. No doubt Mike Babcock will be fired after this debacle. Pick: Calgary in 6

Nashville vs. San Jose : This series hinges on the health of Peter Forsberg. If he’s healthy, the Preds advance. If not, the Sharks will walk away with it. Judging from his history, you’d think the Sharks are a lock. But I think he’ll stay healthy for a round, which should give the Preds the victory, as long as their goaltending holds up. Pick: Nashville in 6

Anaheim vs. Minnesota : The Minnesota defense is scary good but the one team that may be better is the Ducks. Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger will probably play 30 minutes a game in this series, which should make the difference. JS Giguere is damn near unbeatable with those guys in front of him. Minny’s only hope is that Marion Gaborik has the best series of his life. Pick: Anaheim in 5

Vancouver vs. Dallas : Vancouver is the overwhelmingly popular pick here but I’ve never been one to go with the majority. Marty Turco has played terribly in the playoffs but he’s due for a change. Luongo will be making his first appearance and while I think he’ll be up to the task, I just see Dallas refusing to go down in this series. I think this will be the best first round series, despite getting the least hype. Pick: Dallas in 7