1 NEW YORK RANGERS vs. WASHINGTON CAPITALS 7 Game 1: Sat. 3PM @NY Game 2: Mon. 7:30PM @NY Game 3: Wed. 7:30PM @DC Game 4: 5/5 12:30PM @DC Game 5: 5/7 7:30PM @NY * Game 6: 5/9 TBD @DC * Game 7: 5/12 TBD @NY *
6 NEW JERSEY DEVILS vs. PHIADELPHIA FLYERS 5
Game 1: Sun. 3PM @PHI Game 2: Tue. 7:30PM @PHI Game 3: Thu. 7:30PM @NJ Game 4: 5/6 7:30PM @NJ Game 5: 5/8 TBD @PHI * Game 6: 5/10 @NJ * Game 7: 5/12 @PHI *
8 LOS ANGELES KINGS vs. ST. LOUIS BLUES 2
Game 1: Sat. 7:30PM @STL Game 2: Mon. 9PM @STL Game 3: Thu. 10PM @LA Game 4: 5/6 3PM @LA Game 5: 5/8 TBD @STL * Game 6: 5/10 TBD @LA * Game 7: 5/12 TBD @STL *
4 NASHVILLE PREDATORS vs. PHOENIX COYOTES 3
Game 1: Fri. 9PM @PHX Game 2: Sun. 8PM @PHX Game 3: Wed. 9PM @NSH Game 4: 5/4 7:30PM @NSH Game 5: 5/7 10PM @PHX * Game 6: 5/9 TBD @NSH * Game 7: 5/11 TBD @PHX *
In my mind the Predators might have the easiest match up. They got rid of the Red Wings with relative ease and should be able to dominate the Coyotes. 4-1 for the Predators.
St. Louis is a good team, but the Kings disposed the Canucks and proved that they can get it done. So I actually think the Kings might win this with 4-2.
The Devils are nothing like the Penguins so I think the Flyers will have their work cut out for them. But the Flyers win. 4-2.
Rangers-Capitals. Hrm. I was at the last NYR regular season game when the Caps beat the Rangers with ease. But I claim that was because the NYR gave up. This is the playoffs and the Rangers will wear down the Capitals and win the series, 4-2.
Preds and Coyotes is the easiest series, yeah. Preds should take it easily, in no more than 6 games. Mike Smith is capable of stealing two, but Pekka Rinne is a lot better than Corey Crawford.
I think St. Louis can handle the Kings. The Canucks were a team missing their star sniper for most of the series, and they struggled offensively against Quick's exceptional goaltending. The Blues will struggle offensively too, but by design. They've bought into Hitchcock's defensive coaching system, and it'll frustrate the Kings (and many viewers too). Blues win in 5.
The Florida/Jersey opening series was potentially the weakest pairing of teams in the opening round. The Flyers defense and goaltending is questionable, but they showed they've got a ton of firepower against Pittsburgh to make up for it. I don't think the Devils defense is as good as it was back in their glory days. Flyers in 6.
People can't make predictions without at least one upset, can they? I'm going to call the Capitals over the Rangers. Like St. Louis, the Caps are preaching defense first under Dale Hunter, and the players are seeing that it can win them games, as far a cry as it is from their carefree offensive style of a couple of years ago. It'll be close, it'll be tight, but if they could beat the Bruins, then they're capable of beatinga team taken to 7 games by the Senators. Caps in 7.
And just to round out the TV coverage notes, the Kings/Blues and Coyotes/Predators will be aired on TSN in Canada, while the Devils/Flyers and Rangers/Capitals will be aired on CBC.
Caps upset the Rangers in seven Flyers in five Predators in five Blues in six
"It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone." --- Bart Giamatti, on baseball
This changes the balance of power in the West. I was leaning towards a San Jose-Detroit conference final but now that will have to change. A second round matchup between the Sharks and Avs should be interesting.