NHL Predictions 2013: Bold Playoff Predictions for 2013 NHL Season

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NHL Predictions 2013: Bold Playoff Predictions for 2013 NHL Season
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Now that the NHL is officially not in a lockout, why not make some ridiculously bold predictions for the 2013 season?

Will the Kings repeat? Can the Penguins get past the first round? Can the Capitals get past the Eastern Conference Semifinals with Ovechkin for the first time?

We obviously won't find out until the season is over, but here is a quick look at what I think will happen.

 

*Winning team is indicated in bold.

 

Western Conference Opening Round

(1) Vancouver Canucks

(8) Detroit Red Wings

Until the Sedin twins are split apart, if that ever even happens, I like Vancouver. I know there are some concerns with Ryan Kessler, but I do expect them to complete the shortened season with the best record in the Western Conference. The Red Wings will sneak into the playoffs but don't have the veteran leadership that Nick Lidstrom brought for years. It's going to be really hard to replace him. Canucks win in seven games.

(4) Minnesota Wild

(5) San Jose Sharks

Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

The Wild had the best record in the NHL last year halfway through the season. Going out and acquiring Zach Parise and Ryan Suter makes them an immediate threat in the West. They'll beat out the Sharks in the opening round in five games to advance to the semifinals.

(3) Los Angeles Kings

(6) Phoenix Coyotes

The Kings will win their division hoping to repeat their Cup-winning performance from 2011-12. They will get past division rival, Phoenix, in the first round of the 2013 playoffs. Los Angeles wins in five games.

(2) St. Louis Blues

(7) Chicago Blackhawks

The Blues will have another solid regular season but get up-ended in the opening round of the playoffs. I am sold on the Blackhawks. I love Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. Add a healthy Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp in the picture and this team is dangerous. Blackhawks win in six games.

 

Western Conference Semifinals

(1) Vancouver Canucks

(7) Chicago Blackhawks

The NHL Playoffs always brings surprises. Here is the first one in the Western Conference. It comes in the second round. The Blackhawks will top the Canucks in six games to advance to the Western Conference finals.

(3) Los Angeles Kings

(4) Minnesota Wild

The Kings chance at a repeat comes to a halt against the Wild. I really like the Wild to dominate the West in the playoffs. Better luck next time Los Angeles. Wild win in six games.

 

Western Conference Finals

(4) Minnesota Wild

(7) Chicago Blackhawks

The Wild will be way too much for the Blackhawks and Nicklaus Backstrom will stand on his head. The Wild will advance to the Stanley Cup with hopes of a parade in Minnesota shortly after. The Blackhawks surprise playoff run will come to an end. Wild win in five games.

 

Eastern Conference Opening Round

(1) New York Rangers

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

(8) Tampa Bay Lightning

The Rangers enter the playoffs as the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference for the second year in a row. After adding Rick Nash, it's scary to say this team got better. Steven Stamkos will likely finish out the year as the league's top goal scorer, but he won't be able to get it do get it done against King Henrik Lundqvist. Rangers win in five games.

(4) Pittsburgh Penguins

(5) Philadelphia Flyers

A rematch of last year's opening round with similar results. A nit-gritty series which will feature plenty of fights and nudging. The Flyers are ultimately a tougher team and will get it done just as they did last year. I can't imagine that Crosby and Malkin will both stay healthy in an abbreviated season. That's just my gut. Flyers win in a tough-fought seven-game series.

(3) Boston Bruins

(6) Ottawa Senators

And the Bruins are ousted yet again in the first round on their own ice in seven games for the second consecutive year. The Senators are very underrated. I love Erik Karlsson and Jason Spezza. This team is quick and physical. It will be a great series, but ultimately, the Sens will come out on top.

(2) Washington Capitals

(7) Carolina Hurricanes

Paul Bereswill/Getty Images

Let the Adam Oates era begin. The Capitals will lock up their sixth Southeast Division title in the last seven years. A rejuvenated Alex Ovechkin will finally lead by example and take the Capitals past the first round for the third straight year. Capitals up-end the new look Hurricanes in six games to advance to the Eastern Conference Semifinals. 

 

Eastern Conference Semifinals

(1) New York Rangers

(6) Ottawa Senators

Another rematch of last year's opening round. The Rangers shouldn't have an issue here. They match up well with the Senators. Marion Gaborik will be lighting lamps left and right. The Rangers will advance to the Eastern Conference Finals for the second straight year.

(2) Washington Capitals

(5) Philadelphia Flyers

Ovechkin versus Giroux. This should be a good one. Look for some more fights. The "Broad Street Bullies" in Philadelphia are known for that. But the Flyers are going to need to do much more than fight to get past Washington. Braden Holtby will continue his success from 2011-12. This is finally the year that the Capitals will break the threshold they haven't been able to do since Ovechkin was drafted: make it to the Eastern Conference Finals.

 

Eastern Conference Finals

(1) New York Rangers

(2) Washington Capitals

A rematch of last year's Eastern Conference Semifinals but with much different results. Yes the Rangers are stacked, but they are going to run into a hot goaltender in Braden Holtby and not know what to do. The Capitals have added depth at the center position in Mike Ribeiro. They have gotten rid of the cancer in Alex Semin that was holding their team back. Ovechkin and the Capitals will take out the Rangers in six games to advance to the Cup.

 

Stanley Cup Finals

(2) Washington Capitals

(4) Minnesota Wild

This is going to be an amazing series. The Backstroms (who aren't related by the way) will face off against each other. Zach Parise will be in the Stanley Cup for the second consecutive year. Alex Ovechkin will finally be able to see what it feels like to play in the Stanley Cup final. It's going to be intense. The Wild and Capitals will battle for seven games. Both goalies will be playing out of their minds. In the end, Troy Brouwer will score in overtime in game seven to bring the Cup to Washington, DC.

Washington Capitals – 2013 Stanley Cup Champions

Stanley Cup Playoffs MVP - Braden Holtby

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