NHL Playoff 1st Round Predictions (better late than never)

I think I’m coming down with a fever, and no I’m not sick. I have that playoff hockey fever thats going around. After a lockout shortened season, the playoffs have finally arrived, and I for one am excited. If you want to gear up for the NHL playoffs too, you are going to need to know when the games are. Here is a quick look at the schedule:

First Round

WESTERN CONFERENCE

1 Chicago BLACKHAWKS
8 Minnesota WILD

Game 1: at CHI, Tue., April 30, 8 p.m., NBCSN, CBC
Game 2: at CHI, Fri., May 3, 9:30 p.m., NBCSN, CBC
Game 3: at MIN, Sun., May 5, 3 p.m., NBC, CBC
Game 4: at MIN, Tue., May 7, 9:30 p.m., NBCSN, CBC
Game 5: at CHI, Thu., May 9, TBD, CBC*
Game 6: at MIN, Sat., May 11, TBD, CBC*
Game 7: at CHI, Sun., May 12, TBD, CBC*

2 Anaheim DUCKS
7 Detroit RED WINGS

Game 1: at ANA, Tue., April 30, 10:30 p.m., NBCSN, TSN
Game 2: at ANA, Thu., May 2, 10 p.m., NBCSN, TSN
Game 3: at DET, Sat., May 4, 7:30 p.m., NBCSN, TSN
Game 4: at DET, Mon., May 6, 8 p.m., CNBC, TSN
Game 5: at ANA, Wed., May 8, 10 p.m., TSN*
Game 6: at DET, Fri., May 10 TBD, TSN*
Game 7: at ANA, Sun., May 12, TBD, TSN*

3 Vancouver CANUCKS
6 San Jose SHARKS

Game 1: at VAN, Wed., May 1, 10:30 p.m., NBCSN, TSN
Game 2: at VAN, Fri., May 3, 10 p.m., CNBC, TSN
Game 3: at SJ, Sun., May 5, 10 p.m., NBCSN, TSN
Game 4: at SJ, Tue., May 7, 10 p.m., CNBC, TSN
Game 5: at VAN, Thu., May 9, 10 p.m., TSN*
Game 6: at SJ, Sat., May 11, TBD, TSN*
Game 7: at VAN, Mon., May 13, TBD, TSN*

4 Saint Louis BLUES
5 Los Angeles KINGS

Game 1: at STL, Tue., April 30, 8 p.m., CNBC, CBC
Game 2: at STL, Thu., May 2, 9:30 p.m., CNBC, CBC
Game 3: at LA, Sat., May 4, 10 p.m., NBCSN, CBC
Game 4: at LA, Mon., May 6, 10 p.m., NBCSN, CBC
Game 5: at STL, Wed., May 8, TBD, CBC*
Game 6: at LA, Fri., May 10, TBD, CBC*
Game 7: at STL, Mon., May 13, TBD, CBC*

EASTERN CONFERENCE

1 Pittsburgh PENGUINS
8 New York ISLANDERS

Game 1: at PIT, Wed., May 1, 7:30 p.m., NBCSN, TSN
Game 2: at PIT, Fri., May 3, 7 p.m., NBCSN, TSN
Game 3: at NY, Sun., May 5, 12 p.m., NBC, TSN
Game 4: at NY, Tue., May 7, 7 p.m., NBCSN, TSN
Game 5: at PIT, Thu., May 9, 7 p.m., TSN*
Game 6: at NY, Sat., May 11, TBD, TSN*
Game 7: at PIT, Sun., May 12, TBD, TSN*

2 Montreal CANADIENS
7 Ottawa SENATORS

Game 1: at MON, Thu., May 2, 7 p.m., CNBC, CBC, RDS
Game 2: at MON, Fri., May 3, 7 p.m., CNBC. CBC, RDS
Game 3: at OTT, Sun., May 5, 7 p.m., NBCSN, CBC, RDS
Game 4: at OTT, Tue., May 7, 7 p.m., CNBC, CBC, RDS
Game 5: at MON, Thu., May 9, 7 p.m., CBC, RDS*
Game 6: at OTT, Sat., May 11, TBD, CBC, RDS*
Game 7: at MON, Sun., May 12, TBD, CBC, RDS*

3 Washington CAPITALS
6 New York RANGERS

Game 1: at WAS, Thu., May 2, 7:30 p.m., NBCSN, TSN
Game 2: at WAS, Sat., May 4, 12:30 p.m., NBC, TSN
Game 3: at NY, Mon., May 6, 7:30 p.m., NBCSN, TSN
Game 4: at NY, Wed., May 8, 7:30 p.m., NBCSN, TSN
Game 5: at WAS, Fri., May 10, 7:30 p.m., TSN*
Game 6: at NY, Sun., May 12, TBD, TSN*
Game 7: at WAS, Mon., May 13, TBD, TSN*

4 Boston BRUINS
5 Toronto MAPLE LEAFS

Game 1: at BOS, Wed., May 1, 7 p.m., CNBC, CBC, RDS
Game 2: at BOS, Sat., May 4, 7 p.m., CNBC, CBC, RDS
Game 3: at TOR, Mon., May 6, 7 p.m., NHLN, CBC, RDS
Game 4: at TOR, Wed., May 8, 7 p.m., NHLN, CBC, RDS
Game 5: at BOS, Fri., May 10, 7 p.m. CBC, RDS*
Game 6: at TOR, Sun., May 12, CBC, RDS*
Game 7: at BOS, Mon., May 13, CBC, RDS*

*If Necessary

Now that you know the schedule and the matchups, let’s breakdown each series and predict the winners. I’m going to start in the Western Conference. Why the Chicago Blackhawks are in the Western Conference I’ll never know, but they are, and they are clearly the best team in the NHL. You might remember them from their record breaking “winning” streak earlier in the season. They will handle the Minnesota Wild without a hiccup in the first round (4-0). As for the Anaheim Ducks vs. the Detroit Red Wings, I think we are going to hop in my time machine and go back about 10 years (ya know when the Red Wings were the best hockey team in the world). I see the Red Wings defense stifling the Ducks and winning a highly competitive series in 7 games. On we move to the Vancouver Canucks vs. the San Jose Sharks. This series is going to be a low scoring defensive affair. San Jose has the better defense, and they won the regular season series with the Canucks 3 games to none. Look for San Jose to continue their success and win this series in 6 games. Ah yes, the oh so difficult to predict 4 vs. 5 matchup. This year in the West we have the St. Louis Blues taking on the defending Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings. The kings swept the regular season series against the Blues(3-0). I think that the Kings will carry the momentum of their solid play late in the season to advance to the 2nd round. It should take 6 games for the Kings to oust the Blues.

Let’s take a road trip back to the East coast and take a look at the Eastern Conference matchups. The first look we will take is at the top seeded Pittsburgh Penguins vs. the 8th seeded New York Islanders. Now I am an Islander fan, but even I can be objective; sometimes. The only way the Islanders remotely have a chance to win this series is if Sidney Crosby doesn’t play, and they beat up half of the Penguins starting line. Otherwise, they have little to no chance of advancing. I do believe that Sid the Kid is going to sit this round out, however it won’t be enough for the Islanders to move on. While the world will learn just how talented John Taveres is this week, he won’t be able to take the Penguinos down singlehandedly. Look for my Islanders to hang tough and lose this series in 6 HARD FOUGHT games. Lets Go Islanders!! (objectivity shmobjectivity). The second seeded Montrael Canadiens should handle the anemic offense of the Ottawa Senators in 5 games. Don’t look for any miracles in that series. I know I know, you want to see some upsets in the East too. Don’t worry they’re coming up right now. Let me preface this next series preview by saying that I strongly dislike the New York Rangers. However, they will take down the Washington Capitals in 6 games. You heard it here first. Lastly, the 4 vs. 5 matchup in the East should be equally as exciting as the 4/5 matchup in the West. All I have to say is, “Boston Strong Baby!” The Boston Bruins will do away with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 7 tough games.

Check back for 2nd round previews and predictions. Enjoy the NHL playoffs everyone!!

If you enjoy my writing, follow me over to intheneutralzone.com where I am a contributing author there as well. Also you can follow me on twitter @DaveEttinger2 or like me on Facebook at http://www.Facebook.com/DaveTalksSports. Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed it!

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