Ahh playoff time. The time is finally here for us to throw our covers to the wind and let our crazy fly free. The time of year when you can banish shirts to the bottom of the drawer if the Rangers lose when you wear it, when you swap Febreze for Tide if those jeans haven’t lost since March. A time when it’s acceptable to literally put an opposing trinket on ice… in your freezer.
It is also the time when your friendly basement-dwelling nerds here at BSB (except for Justin, inexplicably, always) predict who will win it all — round by round. Let us know your thoughts for the upcoming eight series in the comments. Happy Hockey Season, part 2!
Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Columbus Blue Jackets
Kevin: Jackets in 7 – John Tortorella loyalist alert! The absence of Kris Letang looms large and Columbus has never been afraid of going toe to toe with Pittsburgh.
Rob: Jackets in 6 – The Penguins aren’t the juggernaut that essentially ran the table from January through June last year. The Blue Jackets match up well with them, and the Kris Letang injury will be key. Also, Brandon Dubinsky lives to make Sidney Crosby’s life miserable, which will be really fun to watch.
Dave: Penguins in 7 – Before the Letang news I would’ve put pens in 4. But that is a huge loss. Luckily for the pens, the Blue Jackets have been bad lately.
Pat: Penguins in 6 – Columbus will have a couple of strong showings, and everybody will say this series went to six because of the team playing The Right Way as trademarked by John Tortorella (kidding, I liked Torts actually), but the Penguins’ scorers are really just better than Columbus.
Becky: Penguins in 6 – I love you Torts, but I just don’t see it happening, though literally nothing would make me happier (short of a Rangies Cup win). I don’t see Pittsburgh going far, but I think they’re just too talented for Columbus.
Kevin: Senators in 6 – Boston’s injuries on defense seem crippling and unless Charlie McAvoy can pull a Kreider, I can’t see them fending off a solid Ottawa squad.
Rob: Bruins in 7 – The Bruins – who remind me a lot of the LA championship teams in terms of their style, with better goaltending – take this low-scoring series from a tough Sens team.
Dave: Bruins in 6 – Despite the injuries, the Bruins have good underlying numbers. I am still not sold on Ottawa.
Pat: Bruins in 6 – Erik Karlsson will lead the way for Ottawa, helping them sew up a few games against a battered Bruins team, but ultimately Boston’s regular season puck possession game (best cumulative shot differential in the league) will carry over and help them take the series.
Becky: Senators in 6 – Frankly, BSB’s lack of faith in Ottawa disturbs me. The Sens swept the regular season series against Boston, including a game without their two best defensemen. The only glitch here would be if Erik Karlsson and Marc Methot’s injuries sideline them, which they are not expected to do.
Montreal Canadiens vs. New York Rangers
Kevin: Rangers in 7 – The eternal optimist in me thinks the late-season rest for many key Blueshirts and overall team health will have this team ready to go. It’ll take seven games though, because all Rangers playoff series take seven games.
Rob: Rangers in 6 – Because I’m a hopeless optimist and unapologetic homer. LGR!
Dave: Rangers in 7 – Going full homer here, and hoping the rangers offense outscores what the defense allows. Rangers in 7 in a series where the road team wins all 7 games.
Pat: Canadiens in 7 – I think the Habs’s puck dominance is just going to be too much for the Rangers too handle, although Hank will keep them in it til 7. Price will be on his game too, so we’re in for a treat, but I don’t think this one ends well for the Rangers.
Becky: Canadiens in 6 – Big ups to the hopeless optimists out there who probably believe there actually is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, you inspire me to be better. But this series comes down to deployment and flexibility to make changes on the fly, two things this team is not known for. Claude Julien is too good to lose to a deep, but poorly managed team.
Washington Capitals vs. Toronto Maple Leafs
Kevin: Capitals in 5 – I’m really tempted to go for the massive upset here. I love Toronto’s moxy, but I remain convinced this is Washington’s year.
Rob: Capitals in 5 – Toronto’s impressive group of youngsters are one year away from being able to make serious noise in the playoffs, especially against a wildly talented Caps team that knows it’s now or never.
Dave: Capitals in 5 – This is going to be a fun series to watch. Each game could end 6-5, but Washington is so good. Toronto doesn’t have the depth yet.
Pat: Capitals in 6 – This one is going to be a lot of fun, and Toronto’s young guys will be electric as always, but the Caps are simply stacked this year, no way they lose.
Becky: Capitals in 6 – The Leafs almost choked their way out of the playoffs this year while the Capitals are steamrolling literally everything around them. I give the extra two games here to Toronto because there’s no denying their talent and what Babcock could do, but there’s just no way they take out the Caps.
Nashville Predators vs. Chicago Blackhawks
Kevin: Blackhawks in 6 – The Predators would be a tough matchup for six other Western Conference clubs, but Chicago has this playoff thing down pat.
Rob: Predators in 6 – My upset special! Nashville has pieced together a very solid season after a slow start and their opponent, the Blackhawks, have decidedly mediocre underlying metrics, similar to our beloved Blueshirts (20th in xGF%, one spot behind the Rangers, according to Corsica.Hockey).
Dave: Blackhawks in 7 – This would be Nashville in 6 if they played Saros over Rinne. But they won’t. So the advantage swings to Chicago. Nash has the deepest defense in the west. But it won’t compensate for Rinne.
Pat: Predators in 7 – Chicago is Chicago – everyone knows their stars and their perennial contender status. Still, I think the Preds’s star studded blueline is going to keep them in this til 7, at which point they’ll will themselves into the next round. The “better” team may lose this one, and boy will I be happy when they do (love you, PK).
Becky: Predators in 6 – I’m likely very wrong here, but a) the Hawks haven’t wow-ed me, b) the Predators have, and c) it would warm my heart to see NBC’s poster
rapist assaulter boy Patrick Kane out of it after six games.
Minnesota Wild vs. St. Louis Blues
Kevin: Wild in 7 – Minnesota’s stretch run struggles were troubling, but the Wild is just too deep for me to pick against in Round One.
Rob: Wild in 5 – Minnesota should have no problem scoring goals in bunches against the Blues.
Dave: Wild in 6 – The Wild have had a bad run of luck. Their underlying numbers are still solid. So when that luck corrects itself they are in a position to make a run.
Pat: Wild in 7 – This one is also kind of tough for me, because they’re both good teams. I know Bruce Boudreau is allegedly a playoff choker, but I think this year, if the Wild are firing on all cylinders, they can overcome the Blues.
Becky: Wild in 6 – Though not convinced by Minnesota overall, I do know that the Blues love to choke in the playoffs. The Central is hard, and this will be well fought, and we could all be wrong with Vladi Tarasenko being the monster he is and Vladmir Sobotka returning…. but iI don’t think we are.
Anaheim Ducks vs. Calgary Flames
Kevin: Ducks in 6 – In another matchup I would have loved to pick against the Ducks, but that D is rock solid and I don’t think the Flames have enough firepower to overcome it.
Rob: Ducks in 4 – Anaheim is traditionally overlooked in what is usually a stacked Western Conference. This is a very good team that could make a run this year.
Dave: Ducks in 5 – I don’t believe in Calgary at all. The Ducks have the defense and top end scoring to make this a quick series
Pat: Ducks in 5 – I just don’t think Calgary is that great of a team (willing to be wrong here), at least not compared to Anaheim. Ryan Getzlaf has quietly had a great year, and Anaheim’s blueline is more or less airtight.
Becky: Ducks in 5 – No disrespect to Calgary at all, I just have the Ducks coming out of the West this year. They’re low key one of the best teams in hockey and frankly, a team I wish I was able to watch more this season. Calgary is just shy of making it an interesting series.
San Jose Sharks vs. Edmonton Oilers
Kevin: Oilers in 6 – It sounds like Logan Couture is a go, but things are less certain for Joe Thornton. Without Jumbo, I’m all aboard the McDavid hype train.
Rob: Oilers in 7 – Rather than a sentence or two of analysis, I’ll say this: I think this will be the most entertaining of the eight opening round series. Here’s to lots of goals and late-night OT hockey.
Dave: Sharks in 7 – This is going to be another fun series. The Sharks are significantly more balanced. Edmonton is McJesus and Talbot basically. Of course if Thornton can’t play this series, this is Edmonton in 6. It’s all about the injuries.
Pat: Sharks in 7 – This one I had a tough time with because while I think the Sharks are the better team, Edmonton has McDavid. He’s really good enough to push this team to 7 games. He really really is that good.
Becky: Oilers in 6 – The San Jose Choke Artists are a bit banged up and, even when healthy, can never seem to hit the nail in the coffin. I think Edmonton comes out riled up and this series is a complete gong show. This is the series I’m willing to lose sleep over.