1) New York Rangers vs. 7) Washington Capitals
“Can you hear us?!”…”We are louder!”…
The animosity from last year’s playoff series between the Rangers and the Capitals will be on display in this series. From the crowds at both the Verizon Center and Madison Square Garden to both ornery bench bosses, expect this series to get playoff ugly. But when you look at recent history between these two teams in the playoffs, the Capitals beat the Rangers in their last two playoff meetings.
Prediction: WSH in 6
5) Philadelphia Flyers vs. 6) New Jersey Devils
Both teams earned their way to this series. The Flyers beat their in-state rival Pittsburgh Penguins in a high-scoring 6-game series, and the Devils survived Game 7 in double OT against the Florida Panthers. But like the Rangers/Capitals series, the Flyers beat the Devils in their last two playoff meetings.
Prediction: PHI in 5
2) St. Louis Blues vs. 8) Los Angeles Kings
These two teams are mirror images of each other. An aggressive forechecking team with a solid goaltending. If there was a time these two teams’ offense wakes up, now is definitely the time. If you thought this series is going to be low-scoring, think again.
Prediction: LA in 6
3) Phoenix Coyotes vs. 4) Nashville Predators
Like the Blues/Kings series, both the Coyotes and the Predators are mirror images of each other. Both teams are defense-based, they don’t score much, and both each have a solid goaltender in net. Now you could add that these two earned their way here by completely shutting down two offensive, puck-possesion, run-and-gun Stanley Cup favorites. (You know who you are.) This series will be low-scoring. But I also expect it to be very, very close. I wouldn’t expect the series to go to overtime in the first 5 games, just like Phoenix went through, but who knows? In the Stanley Cup Playoffs, you never know what’s gonna happen.
Prediction: NSH in 6