NHL

NHL Playoff Predictions 2014: Projecting the Entire First Round

PHILADELPHIA, PA - APRIL 13: Kimmo Timonen #44 of the Philadelphia Flyers celebrates his second period power-play goal against the Carolina Hurricanes with his bench on April 13, 2014 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images)
Len Redkoles/Getty Images
Donald WoodFeatured ColumnistApril 16, 2014

The excitement for the 2014 NHL playoffs is through the roof as the puck drops on Wednesday, and hockey fans from across the world are looking to read and interpret the first-round predictions and projections.

With perennial powerhouses like the Boston Bruins and Anaheim Ducks carrying the momentum from a great regular season—as well as several unheralded teams like the Columbus Blue Jackets and Dallas Stars—there is no doubt that the postseason will be amazing.

Here are all the first-round matchups, the predicted winner in each series and a focus on the best matchup to start the 2014 playoffs.

 

First-Round Matchups and Predictions
Eastern Conference
First-Round Matchup Predicted Winner
Boston Bruins vs. Detroit Red Wings Boston
Montreal Canadiens vs. Tampa Bay Lightning Tampa Bay
Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Columbus Blue Jackets Pittsburgh
New York Rangers vs. Philadelphia Flyers Philadelphia
Western Conference
First-Round Matchup Predicted Winner
Anaheim Ducks vs. Dallas Stars Anaheim
San Jose Sharks vs. Los Angeles Kings San Jose
Colorado Avalanche vs. Minnesota Wild Colorado
St. Louis Blues vs. Chicago Blackhawks St. Louis
Source: NHL.com

 

Most Intriguing First-Round Matchup: Boston Bruins vs. Detroit Red Wings

When the No. 1 seed Boston Bruins (54-19-9) square off against the No. 8 seed Detroit Red Wings (39-28-15), hockey fans will be treated to the first taste of Detroit playing in the Eastern Conference after years of dominating the West.

Add in the fact that both the Bruins and the Red Wings are Original Six organizations, and this is a matchup that even casual hockey fans can get behind.

While there is a storied history between the franchises, they haven’t played each other in the postseason since 1957. The animosity might not be there yet, but Brad Marchand told Matt Kalman of the Boston Herald about the intensity that will be created in this series:

Every series is different. You look at Chicago last year, we really didn’t have any hate for them at all (in the Stanley Cup finals). And so I mean every team’s different and we just have to find a way to focus on how we play and play our game. We have to play mean and gritty and battle hard, and I’m sure they’re going to do the same and that’ll create some hatred right there.

ESPN’s John Buccigross shared on Twitter just how much success these two franchises have found over the years, including Detroit’s incredible consecutive postseason appearance streak:

Unfortunately for Detroit, captain Henrik Zetterberg is not ready to return from a back injury to start the series, according to Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press. While the lineup is always better with Zetterberg playing, the team has rallied around each other in his absence.

The Red Wings may have momentum on their side, but Boston has the edge in raw talent.

Whether it’s the superior play of goalie Tuukka Rask, the elite play of the defensive unit led by Zdeno Chara or the offense that features three lines of viable production, the Bruins have the definitive edge in almost every major statistical category.

Boston finished the regular season ranked third in the NHL in goals scored per game (3.1) and second in goals allowed per game (2.1), and despite how well Detroit has played, Boston won the Presidents' Trophy for a reason.

The league’s best team will face a tough test against Detroit, but the Bruins will advance.

Series Prediction: Boston wins 4-2

 

*All stats and information via NHL.com.

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