Eastern Conference – First Round
No. 4 Philadelphia over No. 1 Washington, six games – The Flyers are one of the hottest teams in the East right now, and the Capitals have a propensity for playoff shortcomings. Recipe for disaster.
No. 2 Pittsburgh over No. 3 New York Rangers, seven games – Speaking of teams on a streak in the East, Pittsburgh has caught fire at the right time. This rivalry has the makings of a seven-game series, and even though Pittsburgh is the higher seed, look for them to pull the upset.
No. 4 New York Islanders over No. 1 Florida Panthers, six games – The Islanders haven’t won a playoff series since before I was born, and they’ve had the experience over the past few years to carry them over Florida in a shocker.
No. 3 Detroit over No. 2 Tampa Bay, six games – With Tampa Bay reeling from injuries, the Red Wings can catch lightning in a bottle to get into the East semifinals.
Western Conference – First Round
No. 1 Dallas over No. 4 Minnesota, five games – According to ESPN, Tyler Sequin plans on playing in Game 1 and that’s a big problem for a Wild squad that will be without Zach Parise for at least the first two games. Giving them one win in the series may have even been too generous.
No. 3 Chicago over No. 2 St. Louis, six games – This one is a no-brainer to me. Chicago always shows up in the postseason, the Blues never do.
No. 4 Nashville over No. 1 Anaheim, six games – Â Pekka Rinne is one of the best goaltenders in the game when he is at his peak, and I will go out on a limb to say he carries the Predators to an upset win over the Ducks.
No. 3 Los Angeles over No. 2 San Jose, six games – This one comes down to goaltending for me. Martin Jones sat behind one of the most clutch goaltenders of the past few years in Jonathan Quick, but starting in the playoffs long-term is another scenario. I think the mentor beats the grasshopper in this series.
Eastern Conference Semifinals
No. 4 Philadelphia over No. 2 Pittsburgh, seven games – If the Flyers manage to get past the team that won the President’s Trophy, there is no reason to think they can’t upend a tough Pittsburgh team.
No. 4 New York Islanders over No. 3 Detroit, six games – Only at this point in drawing up my bracket did I realize I have two No. 4 seeds reaching the conference finals, but I stand by it. Tavares with the overtime winner in Game 6.
Western Conference Semifinals
No. 1 Dallas over No. 3 Chicago, seven games – A fully healthy Dallas is a force with which no team wants to tangle. Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn versus Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews will be a show of its own, but I think the former’s combined firepower puts them *just* over the top.
No. 4 Nashville over No. 2 Los Angeles, seven games – It will be a goaltending duel, and a red-hot Rinne (by this point) stands on his head for the Preds.
Eastern Conference Finals
No. 4 Philadelphia over No. 4 New York Islanders, six games – The Flyers have been in this situation before, the underdog team that makes a Cinderella run to the Finals. They do it again this year.
Western Conference Finals
No. 1 Dallas over No. 4 Nashville, five games – That hot streak for Rinne ends when he comes face-to-face with the sticks of Benn and Seguin. Advantage: Dallas.
Stanley Cup Finals
No. 1 Dallas over No. 4 Philadelphia, six games – Unfortunately for the Flyers, I think their storybook run similar to a few years ago ends the same way. Seguin hoists the cup for the second time and gets his first Conn Smythe to go with it.