The last time there were no game sevens in any of the iterations of the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs was 2001, however, this year’s first round set a record of 18 games going into overtime breaking the old record set in 2013 by a single game. My predictions were all over the place as I only picked the correct winning team in half of the eight series. Additionally, I only got the number of games right in three of the eight series. Funnily enough, the only series in which I both predicted the correct winner and the number of games was the series that involved my favorite club, the Edmonton Oilers. Although my prediction record from the previous round was poor I’m going to again try and see into the crystal ball and although the schedule has not been released yet the matchups are set. The first team to win four games will advance this time to the Conference Finals.
Washington Capitals vs Pittsburgh Penguins: The Penguins demolished the Columbus Blue Jackets in five games with a kind of killer swiftness real penguins only exhibit underwater. The Capitals, by comparison, were given everything they could handle by the baby-faced Toronto Maple Leafs which took five overtime games (out of six games) to decide a winner. Will Washington’s reward for the best regular season and winning a dogfight with Toronto be their first conference finals appearance since 1998? Not in my estimations, Pittsburgh in 6.
New York Rangers vs Ottawa Senators: Two teams who I did not think would win their first round series’ clash. Ottawa could only muster one of their four wins in sixty minutes while the Rangers actually got Rick Nash to show up in a playoff series. Because of this fluky nature of overtime and the experience factor that New York has over Ottawa, Rangers in 6.
Nashville Predators vs St Louis Blues: I would like to preface this by apologizing to both teams for underestimating them, although in my defense I did say the Nashville-Chicago series would end in a sweep. By taking out the heavily favored Blackhawks in addition to blowing the Western Conference wide open the Predators have established themselves as the biggest fish in the pond for now. St Louis did not cool down against the stumbling Wild either so this should be a good series between division rivals as well as a total coin flip. Under the assumption Pekka Rinne will continue to play outstanding (he shut out the vaunted Hawks offense twice) Predators in 7.
Anaheim Ducks vs Edmonton Oilers: Bias alert, the Oilers are my favorite team so naturally I want them to do well but the Ducks are an experienced team and although the Oilers won 3 of 5 regular-season games against them, experience and defense take on a new meaning in the postseason. In addition, the Ducks destroyed Calgary for the upteenth time and as a result, they have had some more rest days to swim around and eat bread. Bad duck related jokes aside I begrudgingly take the team from Anaheim in 6.