Vancouver vs Chicago
This match up of the President's Trophy winners and their demon from past seasons doesn't hold quite the same intrigue as years past. For one thing, Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo will not be facing his tormentor, the big butt of big Buff. For another, This isn't last year's Blackhawk squad that was clicking on all cylinders, but a team that backed into the playoffs courtesy of the Minnesota Wild. Still, the Hawks have some firepower up front, enough to make it interesting. They will not be able to overcome the talent and depth of the Canuckleheads, however, and Luongo will exorcise his demons against the Hawks.
Vancouver in 6
San Jose vs Los Angeles
Justin Williams is expected to return for the Kings and this will help their line up significantly if he can battle and be productive, but it's no secret the Kings aren't the same without Anze Kopitar. Nevertheless, I expect the Kings to give the Sharks quite a battle in this series, and whomever emerges victorious will not do so unscathed. The Sharks are a high powered group up front and solid on the blue line. The difference maker for the Sharks this year is Antii Niemi, fresh from a Stanley Cup season with the aforementioned Blackhawks. If the Kings can get timely scoring and stellar play from goaltender Jonathan Quick, they could make a series out of it, but the Sharks ultimately will have too much bite.
San Jose in 7
Detroit vs Phoenix
In a reprise of last year's match up that saw the Wings take down the Desert Dogs in 7, this is another match up that will be very close. Detroit will open without Henrik Zetterberg but should have the full services of the the remainder of their roster. Phoenix will have the services of Martin Hanzal, who returned late last week after missing 12 games. Last year, rookie Jimmy Howard out dueled Ilya Bryzgalov, and I expect the same to happen again in this series. Detroit is Detroit, and they have the ability to turn it up a notch in the playoffs. The backstory to this series is the rumor that the Coyotes are going to re-locate back to Winnipeg after their season is over. The is no substantiation to that whisper, but it can only serve as a distraction for Dave Tippet and the Coyotes.
Detroit in 7
Anaheim vs Nashville
Time for the Predators to finally shed the mantle of one and done, and this will be the year that they do so. They will need outstanding play from Pekka Rinne. They will get it. I believe that the RPG line of Bobby Ryan, Cory Perry, and Ryan Getzlaf will get points, but not enough as they run into the Terminators, aka Shea Weber and Ryan Suter. The series will hinge on the second D pairing being able to shut down Teemu Selanne and his line mates and for the Predators to get scoring from all lines. It will happen.
Nashville in 6
Washington vs New York Rangers
After failing to meet expectations in the playoffs the past several seasons, Head Coach Bruce Boudreau has stored up a warehouse full of expletives to motivate the team. he will be using a bunch of them, as the Rangers will be a feisty group that can be dangerous. Backstopped by "King" Henrik Lundqvist, the Blueshirts will give the Caps a tussle. They will succumb to the superior firepower of the Caps however. The greatest area of vulnerability for the Caps is in net. If Semyon Varlamov looks shaky, things could get interesting. I don't think they will.
Washington in 5
Philadelphia vs Buffalo
The Flyboys have some horsepower and the potential to make a deep run in the playoffs, but the last 3 weeks of the season has to have shaken the confidence of the team. They won only 3 of their last 10 games and just frankly didn't look confident. Buffalo will ride the strong play of Ryan Miller, who can carry this team past the first round if he gets some offensive help. If Buffalo can get to "Bob"- Sergei Bobrovsky and rattle him, this series could be the surprise of the first round. This is my upset pick of the first round.
Buffalo in 7
Boston vs Montreal
Hide the women and children- and the cop cars if you are in Montreal. This series will be a war between two teams that loath each other. Montreal would like nothing more than to continue the trend of knocking their hated rival out of the playoffs, and Boston would like nothing more than to exact a physical toll on the Habs en route to a series win. My guess is that this series will have, by a wide margin, the greatest number of fighting majors. Physicality and bad blood aside, I think the Bruins will have too much size and firepower for the Habs to overcome. I expect Carey Price to keep them in the games, but I think the size and depth of the Bruins eventually wears down the Bleu, Blanc, et Rouge.
Boston in 6
Pittsburgh vs Tampa Bay
This should be one of the most fun match ups to watch in the first round as both teams sport some explosiveness offensively and can play good defense. Here is the shocker: look for Sidney Crosby to play in this series, beginning in game 1. The other story line is Marc-Andre Fleury against the guns of the Lightning- Stamkos, Lecavalier, and St. Louis. Tampa's netminder, Dwayne Roloson, will have to
Tampa Bay in 7
Remember, these picks are for amusement purposes only. Picking a match up the same way the View does may be a sign of mental instability.
We will come back after the first round is over and see how the games played out.