Since I'm a total hockey nut it's a bit of an annual tradition for me to make predictions for every round just before it starts, but this is the first time I'm doing it on Bleacher Report.
Don't have too much time to write this so apologies if it's not up to my usual level in terms of writing, but I just want to get it out there.
Boston over Montreal
Won't be as easy as Bruins fans think, just like Montreal's win last year wasn't as easy as most people thought it would be. I think this will go six or seven games. The only way it won't is if Montreal's goaltending falls apart which is very possible since they have a huge question mark there.
Their extremely talented kid goalie Price has been chasing skirts and boozing it up way too much according to many reports and has been downright awful the second half of the regular season.
If I were Montreal I'd go with Jaroslav Halak who manages to get wins even when the other team gets nearly 50 shots on him. The Bruins have a definite edge on goal and on defense, but Montreal has extremely talented group of forwards which, if they play up to their potential, could be dangerous.
Washington over NY Rangers
Capitals are a much better team, but in a goalie match-up of Theodore vs. Lundqvist the Rangers have a clear advantage with King Henrik. This makes me extremely nervous as a Caps fan.
I've been hoping that Theo would get injured (I know, absolutely terrible) so that we'd be forced to start our 20-year old Russian rookie Simeon Varlamov who IMO is much better. Maybe if Theo bombs early Boudreau will be forced to make the switch anyway and it won't be too late for us to pull it out.
Philadelphia over Pittsburgh
Can go either way. Should be a great series to watch even for a neutral since it'll be an absolute war as these teams hate each other's guts. Most likely a seven-game series.
It's a tough pick, but I'm going with the Flyers because they're tougher and have more balanced scoring (7 20+ goal guys, I think) as opposed to Pittsburgh who still rely too much on Crosby and Malkin.
Having said that, since the trade deadline during which they did a great job addressing balanced scoring the Pens have been sizzling hot and Malkin & Crosby are superstars who can move mountains.
Crap, I think I just convinced myself that the Penguins should win. Oh well, I'm gonna stick with my original pick.
New Jersey over Carolina
Can go either way. A lot will depend on goaltending. Is Brodeur gonna be the Marty we saw right after he returned from injury or the one we saw at the end of the season? Is Ward gonna be the Conn Smythe winning Ward of a couple of years ago when Carolina won the Cup?
He had an excellent run at the end of the regular season and is entering the playoffs full of confidence. The Devils were one of the best teams all year, but tanked at the end while Carolina is coming into the playoffs as one of the hottest teams in the whole league.
Carolina is a lot of fun to watch for a neutral since they play an up tempo, very aggressive attacking style similar to the Capitals so I'll be cheering for the Canes.
San Jose over Anaheim
This has developed into a great rivalry out West and is gonna be an absolute war, so a great series to watch for a neutral. Anaheim has a huge question in goal since Giguere lost his starting job to Hiller right at the end of the regular season...and IMO should have lost it long before that.
Sharks, on the other hand, have one of the best goalies in the world in Nabokov. That should do it. If you like brawls you might see a few in this one. I'll be cheering for the Sharks as they've been one of my favorite teams ever since they came into the NHL and knocked out Detroit in one of the greatest playoff upsets ever.
Anaheim is one of the dirtiest bunch of jackasses in the league, and I hate them almost as much as the Flyers.
Detroit over Columbus
Just like in the Caps-Rangers series Detroit is a better team...much better, in fact, but the goalie edge goes to Columbus provided their sensational rookie Steve Mason who was almost single-handedly responsible for getting them into the playoffs doesn't crap his pants in his first playoff experience.
Might be a tough series for Detroit to win provided Mason stands on his head like he did all year. I love the way Detroit plays, but I might be pulling for the underdog here. Mason is an amazing story and worth the price of admission if you like to watch mind boggling saves by a goalie with a Superman cape around his neck.
When I watch him play I find myself constantly exclaiming, "He just did whaaat?! There's no fucking way he saved that!!!" Contrast this with the Swiss cheese the Red Wings have for goalies and we might get a long series out of this one.
Vancouver over St.Louis
It's an absolute miracle that the Blues got in considering their roster and a boatload of injuries (major props to their coach), but Vancouver is just too strong for them and Chris Masons's excellent goaltending will be matched by one of the leagues star goalies, his majesty Roberto Luongo.
The only chance the Blues have is if Chris Mason plays lights out for them in net and they can manage a few timely goals. Their offense is clearly outmatched by the Canucks.
Chicago over Calgary
This was definitely one of the toughest predictions to make. Both teams are very good. Calgary is tough as nails and has a great goalie in Kiprusoff, but Chicago is an up and coming team loaded with young talent.
If their kids don't crap their pants in their first playoff experience, this could be a seven-game war and another great matchup for a neutral to watch.
Possibility for lots of brawls in this one also. Great to see Chicago back in the playoffs. Their stadium should be absolutely rocking.