Wednesday, April 11, 2012

2012 NHL Playoff Predictions

You'll see my picks round by round at SBNation, and the round one picks you see below will be there later Wednesday.

In the meantime, here is my look at the opening round, followed by one person's stab at the rest of the playoffs.

I was going to let my son post his picks on here, but he's just picking Detroit. No drama there.

Los Angeles vs. Vancouver

If I were a Canucks fan, I'd be a little bit frightened at the Kings' ability to play a gritty style, coupled with their strong goaltending. Of course, that doesn't change the fact that Vancouver has the deeper forward lines and is capable of playing good defense. The Canucks are No. 1 for a reason, and their flaws won't be exposed in this series. Vancouver in 6.

San Jose vs. St. Louis
The Blues have done a great job simply following the orders of Ken Hitchcock behind the bench. The Sharks, meanwhile, seemed to take a step backward this season. A once-potent offense isn't nearly as good as it was, and the Sharks have still shown a propensity for getting outworked that will kill them against an opponent like this. St. Louis in 6.

Chicago vs. Phoenix
For the first time in franchise history, the Coyotes are a division champion. Phoenix has home ice advantage in this series, but it probably isn't going to help much. For starters, expect plenty of Blackhawk support in the desert. Oh, and Chicago's better. Chicago in 6.

Detroit vs. Nashville
If last year didn't do it, this series should make you fall in love with the hockey market that is Nashville. Those folks are bonkers for their Predators. On the ice, look for a fantastic, competitive, and potentially truculent series that could go the distance. Nashville in 7.

Chicago over Vancouver in 7 
Nashville over St. Louis in 7

Chicago over Nashville in 6

Ottawa vs. N.Y. Rangers

I know the Rangers lost three of the four games between these two teams during the regular season. I don't care. The Rangers look like a team built for a long run, with strong goaltending, a tough defense, and plenty of two-way forwards. New York in 5.

Washington vs. Boston
Since Bruce Boudreau led the Capitals' surge back into relevance a few years ago, Washington has owned home-ice advantage in every playoff series it has played, until this one. Perhaps this is the ticket for a Capitals team that seemed to get better late in the season. Boston has played a lot of hockey lately, and we know how hard it is to defend the Cup. Washington in 7.

New Jersey vs. Florida
Everyone wants to make fun of the Panthers for winning a bad division. Whatever. They're in, and what hardcore fans they have in South Florida have to be juiced for this. Expect low-scoring games, but I have to go with the team that has the best players in the series (Kovalchuk, Parise, Brodeur). New Jersey in 7.

Philadelphia vs. Pittsburgh
This is the main event. Pittsburgh's deep offense against a Philadelphia team that will be desperate to knock the Penguins off their game. If Pittsburgh's skill guys avoid the extracurricular garbage and just play, I don't see how they lose, barring a Marc-Andre Fleury meltdown. Pittsburgh in 6.

Pittsburgh over NY Rangers in 6
Washington over New Jersey in 6

Pittsburgh over Washington in 7

Pittsburgh over Chicago in 7

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