My playoff predictions round by round and overall champion
I will post a few different blogs in the next few days. First, my thoughts on what Jeff Gorton said at his press conference Monday and what may be able to be gleaned despite the generic comments made. Second, my take on the Ilya Kovalchuk signing rumors, which continue the whispers we have heard for the past year. In this blog, I provide my playoff preview as to the projected winner in each round and ultimate Cup champion.
This year, maybe more so than other seasons, you could make a case for anywhere from 8-12 teams having a realistic shot. Some are favorites, like Tampa, Boston and Pittsburgh in the East and Nashville in the West. Others are slightly longer shots like Washington and Toronto on one side of the bracket and Winnipeg and Las Vegas on the other. In addition, cases could be made for Los Angeles, Anaheim and San Jose out West and Columbus in the East. Parity has been the buzzword in the league for several years, and seeing how many potential Cup contenders exist, that word is more than accurate.
Despite the Rangers sitting on the sidelines, New York connections are on display in the playoffs. For Blueshirts fans, watching how far Tampa goes will be a major focus. The potential of a 2019 first round draft pick, dependent on if the Lightning wins the Cup, will keep our interest. Add in the presence of five ex-Rangers and you have two good reasons to remain engaged. In addition, New York players are inter-spiced on several other playoff squads. From Michael Grabner in New Jersey to Rick Nash and Nick Holden in Boston, Derick Brassard in Pittsburgh and even Eric Staal in Minnesota, reasons exist to tune in regardless of which teams are playing.
Without further adieu, below are my picks. I thought I was being bold, but after seeing who others have picked, my selections may be as outlandish as I first thought. I will let you be the judge.
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals :
Tampa Bay over New Jersey in 6 games
Boston over Toronto in 7 games
Washington over Columbus in 7 games
Pittsburgh over Philadelphia in 6 games
Western Conference Quarterfinals :
Nashville over Colorado in 5 games
Winnipeg over Minnesota on 6 games
Los Angeles over Las Vegas in 6 games
San Jose over Anaheim in 7 games
Eastern Conference Semifinals :
Boston over Tampa Bay in 7 games
Washington over Pittsburgh in 7 games
Western Conference Semifinals :
Winnipeg over Nashville in 7 games
San Jose over Los Angeles in 7 games
Eastern Conference Finals :
Boston over Washington in 7 games
Western Conference Finals :
Winnipeg over San Jose in 6 games
Stanley Cup Finals :
Boston over Winnipeg in 6 games
Notwithstanding the above, I wouldn’t be shocked if Boston got knocked out in the first round after losing on the final game of the season and blowing a shot at the top seed in the East. Predicting the playoffs is at times a futile exercise. As we know, a Cup run is a battle of attribution with injuries playing a major role. Every year, some unsung hero steps up to help lead his team to an unexpected win in either a game or series. This season should be no different. Nothing beats sudden death overtime hockey, especially when your team is not one of the two on the ice because you can just watch as a fan rather than living and dying with each rush up the ice. Settle in and watch the contests in the best time of year.