2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs: Round One Picks

2014_Stanley_Cup

Well it’s that time of year again, the time when I make myself look bad by trying to predict who will win each playoff series. Fun fun!!

Once again, apologies for the lack of blogging and new articles this year. I’ve been having a lot of fun writing for another website and in turn this one has taken a backseat. Hockey remains my one true love however and I’m actually going to start writing some stuff soon that can be posted both here and that other site, killing two birds with one stone, so to speak.

Anyway, let’s get down to business.

Eastern Conference

Boston Bruins vs. Detroit Red Wings

On paper, Boston should steamroll this one in epic fashion. However, Detroit is finally getting back to mostly full health and they’ve been playing excellent hockey for the last month or so. Also, it’s the Red Wings, man, they’re never a pushover. Still, no chance they win this series as far as I’m concerned, but they will make it interesting.

Bruins in 6.

Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Columbus Blue Jackets

Again, on paper, it’s another easy one to predict. Pittsburgh is filled to the brim with star power and depth at all positions. Only problem is Marc-Andre Fleury. Does he spontaneously combust in the playoffs yet again? Probably not this round as Columbus doesn’t have a lot of fire power. The Blue Jackets are stacked defensively though and have a Vezina winner in goal, so don’t count them out entirely.

Penguins in 6.

Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Montreal Canadiens

This could be the most entertaining first round series in the East from an offensive standpoint as both teams are fast and skilled while largely relying on a single defensive pairing, so breakdowns will happen. Unfortunately for Tampa Bay their fate largely relies on the health of Ben Bishop. If he’s not ready to go or close to 100%, Steven Stamkos will need to score A LOT.

Canadiens in 6.

New York Rangers vs. Philadelphia Flyers

Now this one is the actual highlight of the opening round in the East. These two teams hate each other and therefore it should be a fiercely contested, physical affair. It’s a tough series to call because the Flyers easily have the superior offense, but the Rangers easily have the better defense and goaltending. Defense wins championships and that’s what I usually go with, but I think I’ll gamble slightly on this one.

Flyers in 7.

Western Conference

Anaheim Ducks vs. Dallas Stars

I really, really want to pick Dallas here because I feel this is the most likely true upset in the first round. They won the season series over Anaheim, they’ve got Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin firing on all cylinders, and they’ve got some goo playoff experience throughout the lineup. Nonetheless, the Ducks lineup will just be way too deep in the end for the Stars to overcome.

Ducks in 7.

Colorado Avalanche vs. Minnesota Wild

Colorado lucked out big time in the playoff seeding, snagging the one team they match up against the best. The Avalanche easily outclass the Wild on offense and in goal, while they both have fairly unremarkable defense outside of one or two key guys. The one wrinkle here for Colorado is Ryan Suter. He’ll be out there 30+ minutes per night for the Wild and should limit Colorado’s offense somewhat.

Avalanche in 5.

St. Louis Blues vs. Chicago Blackhawks

Probably the two most stacked, well-rounded teams in the entire playoffs, yet both stumbled to the finish line and put a major dent in their Stanley Cup hopes. The Blues seem a little more banged up and are struggling the most, whereas the Blackhawks are the defending champions and know what to do when the pressure’s on. Gotta stick with Chicago on this one.

Blackhawks in 7.

San Jose Sharks vs. Los Angeles Kings

If you only watch one series in the first round, make it this one and I promise you won’t be disappointed. This is the third playoff meeting between the two in the past four seasons, each with a victory, and both were hugely entertaining, while also extremely close. It’s a real toss up as to who comes out on top here, but I’m going to give the edge to the Kings, assuming Drew Doughty plays, and he better.

Kings in 7.

 


 

Finally, as always, I’ll also provide the first round winner predictions as determined by the recently updated end of regular season Power Rankings. Playoff injury adjustments have been made to the formula to only include those where the player is expected to miss all of or most of the opening round. It’s not a perfect science, but they’re easily the best in the business if I do say so myself.

Eastern Conference

Boston Bruins (#1) defeat Detroit Red Wings (#12)
Pittsburgh Penguins (#6) defeat Columbus Blue Jackets (#15)
Tampa Bay Lightning (#9) defeat Montreal Canadiens (#10)
New York Rangers (#13) defeat Philadelphia Flyers (#14)

Western Conference

Anaheim Ducks (#2) defeat Dallas Stars (#16)
Colorado Avalanche (#8) defeat Minnesota Wild (#11)
Chicago Blackhawks (#3) defeat St. Louis Blues (#4)
Los Angeles Kings (#5) defeat San Jose Sharks (#7)

The Power Rankings are projecting that the majority of the top seeds will prevail, with the lone exceptions being the Blackhawks and Kings moving on to round two. The picks also mirror my own aside from the Power Rankings going with the Rangers and Lightning.

To conclude, as of now, the official Puck Propaganda Power Rankings project that the Boston Bruins will become the 2014 Stanley Cup champions.

Enjoy the playoffs!!