NHLDownload App

NHL Playoff Bracket 2011: Full Postseason Predictions

Jeff LangridgeCorrespondent IIIJune 6, 2016

NHL Playoff Bracket 2011: Full Postseason Predictions

1 of 16

    The NHL playoffs start this Wednesday and their is plenty of intrigue heading into them.

    Will the Presidents Trophy-winning Vancouver Canucks bring the Stanley Cup back to Canada for the first time since Montreal did it in 1993? Can the new defense-oriented Washington Capitals avenge last season's disappointment? Who will be this year's Cinderella team?

    This year's edition of the NHL playoffs contains a couple rematches from last year, as well as a couple from the year before. Detroit will take on Phoenix for the second year straight, Washington and New York and Boston and Montreal will tangle for the second time in three years, and this will be the third year in a row that Vancouver and Chicago will face other.

    Who will make it past the first round? The second round? Who will be the final four and who will fight for the Stanley Cup in the finals?

Eastern Conference Quarterfinals: #1 Washington Capitals vs. #8 New York Rangers

2 of 16

    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Season Series: Washington- 1-2-1 New York- 3-1-0

    Playoff History: Washington leads 3-2

    Leading Scorer Against Opposition: Washington- Brooks Laich & Matt Hendricks- 3 points  New York- Brian Boyle- 7 points

    Key Question: Washington- Who will be the starting goaltender? New York- Can they get past the new defense-oriented Capitals?

    Player That Needs To Step Up: Washington- Niklas Backstrom New York- Derek Stepan

    Key Match-Up: Alex Ovechkin vs. Henrik Lundqvist

    In the four match-ups this season, the Rangers outscored the Capitals 17-6. In those four games, Backstrom had zero points and was a -2. Stepan had one goal and one assist in four games and was even. If Washington wants any chance at winning, Ovechkin & Backstrom need to be the leading scorers, not Laich and Hendricks. Henrik Lundqvist has the potential to steal this series for the Rangers, while Washington must hope that one of Semyon Varlamov, Michal Neuvirth, or Braden Holtby can take the reigns.

    Prediction: Rangers in six.

#2 Philadelphia Flyers vs. #7 Buffalo Sabres

3 of 16

    Al Bello/Getty Images

    Season Series: Philadelpia- 2-1-1 Buffalo- 2-2-0 

    Playoff History: Philadelphia leads 5-3

    Leading Scorer Against Opposition: Philadelphia- Danny Briere- 8 points Buffalo- Tomas Vanek- 7 points

    Key Question: Philadelphia- Can Sergei Bobrovsky handle the pressure of playoff hockey? Buffalo- Is Ryan Miller completely healthy?

    Player That Needs To Step Up: Philadelphia- James Van Riemsdyk Buffalo- Drew Stafford

    Key Match-Up: Philadelphia’s first line vs. Ryan Miller

    For all intensive purposes, Ryan Miller will decide who wins this series. Out for four games, Miller played in parts of the Sabres last two games, so one has to wonder if he's completely healthy. If he is, than Buffalo has no problems, if he's not, than Jhonas Enroth will have to step up. Surprisingly, Philly's Sergei Bobrovsky edged both Miller & Enroth in save percentage, Bobrovsky posting .906 while Miller posted .890 and Enroth .842

    Prediction: Buffalo in six

#3 Boston Bruins vs. #6 Montreal Canadiens

4 of 16

    Elsa/Getty Images

    Season Series: Boston- 2-3-1 Montreal- 4-2-0

    Playoff History: Montreal leads 24-8

    Leading Scorer Against Opposition: Boston- Milan Lucic- 9 points Montreal- Brian Gionta- 6 points

    Key Question:( for both teams) Can they keep their tempers in control for a seven game series?

    Player That Needs To Step Up: Boston- Tyler Seguin Montreal- Andrei Kostitsyn

    Key Match-Up: Tim Thomas vs. Carey Price

    Will this be a series showcasing both teams scoring ability or will it showcase the hatred that these two teams share? Carey Price will now be under more pressure than ever to duplicate Jaroslav Halak's performance from last year. It'll be even harder considering he's facing a goalie who set the best save percentage in NHL history in Tim Thomas. If Montreal wants to win, they will have to forget the Zdeno Chara hit on Max Pacioretty. Boston wants nothing more than to shrink the humiliating number in the series wins differential.

    Prediction: Bruins in five.

#4 Pittsburgh Penguins vs. #5 Tampa Bay Lightning

5 of 16

    Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

    Season Series: Both teams 2-2-0

    Playoff History: Never played each other

    Leading Scorer Against Opposition: Pittsburgh- Kris Letang- 5 points Tampa Bay- Martin St.Louis & Steven Stamkos- 5 points

    Key Question: Pittsburgh- Can they make a long playoff run without Crosby & Malkin? Tampa Bay- Can Steven Stamkos lead the Lightning back to the Stanley Cup finals?

    Player That Needs To Step Up: Pittsburgh- Jordan Staal Tampa Bay- Ryan Malone

    Key Match-Up: Marc-Andre Fleury vs. Dwayne Roloson

    Potentially the most intriguing match-up of the first round, the Penguins and Lightning are meeting each other for the first time in the playoffs. Pittsburgh somehow managed to finish on a high note, coming close to passing Philadelphia, without their two best players in Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Their best forward left, Jordan Staal, did not score a point in two games against the Lightning. The Lightning's forwards are completely healthy, so Marc-Andre Fleury could have a lot of shots heading his way from Steven Stamkos, Martin St. Louis, and Vincent Lecavalier.

    Prediction: Lightning in seven.

Western Conference Quarterfinals: #1 Vancouver Canucks vs. #8 Chicago Blackhawks

6 of 16

    Rich Lam/Getty Images

    Season Series: Vancouver- 2-1-1 Chicago- 2-2-0

    Playoff History: Chicago leads 3-1

    Leading Scorer Against Opposition: Vancouver- Daniel Sedin- 5 points Chicago- Jonathan Toews- 3 points

    Key Question: Vancouver- Can they finally beat the Blackhawks? Chicago- Do they have the depth to make it past Vancouver this time?

    Player That Needs To Step Up: Vancouver- Ryan Kesler Chicago- Patrick Sharp

    Key Match-Up: The Sedins vs. Toews & Kane

    Round Three anyone? For the third year in a row, the Canucks and Blackhawks are meeting each other in the playoffs. While Chicago has come out victorious in both series, Vancouver might finally make it past Chicago and get the burden off their backs early. Having the Art Ross Trophy winner Daniel Sedin and one of the William Jennings Trophy winners in Roberto Luongo, will help Vancouver this year.

    Prediction: Vancouver in six.

#2 San Jose Sharks vs. # 7 Los Angeles Kings

7 of 16

    Victor Decolongon/Getty Images

    Season Series: San Jose- 3-1-1 Los Angeles- 3-3-0

    Playoff History: Never played each other

    Leading Scorer Against Opposition: San Jose- Patrick Marleau- 8 points Los Angeles- Dustin Brown- 5 points

    Key Question: San Jose- Can Niemi repeat his performance from last year? Los Angeles- Can the young blueline contain the Sharks top scorers?

    Player That Needs To Step Up: San Jose- Dany Heatley Los Angeles- Wayne Simmonds

    Key Match-Up: Antti Niemi vs. Jonathan Quick

    San Jose begins another quest to make it to the Stanley Cup finals after years of failure. Los Angeles is back for the second year in a row after years of mediocrity. The Sharks top six might be too much for the Kings and Quick will have to stand on his head to give the Kings a chance. Los Angeles will also be hurting from the loss of Anze Kopitar.

    Prediction: Sharks in five

#3 Detroit Red Wings vs #6 Phoenix Coyotes

8 of 16

    Dave Sandford/Getty Images

    Season Series: Detroit- 2-1-1 Phoenix- 2-0-2

    Playoff History: Detroit leads 2-0

    Leading Scorer Against Opposition: Detroit- Nik Lidstrom- 5 points Phoenix- Martin Hanzal- 3 points

    Key Question: Detroit- Are they finally too old to perform in the playoffs for an extended run? Phoenix- Can they overcome their financial problems and win their first playoff round playing in Phoenix?

    Player That Needs To Step Up: Detroit- Valtteri Filppula Phoenix- Lee Stempniak

    Key Match-Up: Johan Franzen vs. Phoenix’s defense

    Last year, these two teams went the distance in a series that some thought wouldn't even be close. Phoenix again has fought their way into the playoffs and has a chance for revenge. Still being led by 40-year old Niklas Lidstrom, Detroit went 9-11 in their last 20 games, and most of their wins were only by one goal. This might not be the year for Detroit.

    Prediction: Coyotes in seven.

#4 Anaheim Ducks vs. #5 Nashville Predators

9 of 16

    Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

    Season Series: Anaheim- 1-3-0 Nashville- 3-1-0

    Playoff History: Never played each other

    Leading Scorer Against Opposition: Anaheim- Teemu Selanne- 6 points Nashville- Patric Hornqvist- 7 points

    Key Question: Anaheim- Can they overcome a team that has had their number this season? Nashville- Can they finally win their first playoff round ever?

    Player That Needs To Step Up: Anaheim- Luca Sbisa Nashville- J.P. Dumont

    Key Match-Up: Ducks top scorers vs. Shea Weber

    If there was any team that Anaheim was worried about facing, it was Nashville. Well, now they've got Nashville and will try to beat a team that beat them three times out of four and out-scored them 17-11. The Ducks will again rely heavily on their first line of Bobby Ryan, Ryan Getzlaf, and Maurice Richard Trophy-winner Corey Perry to lead them past Nashville. Nashville will rely on Pekka Rinne to stop Anaheim's top scorers in hopes to win their first series ever.

    Prediction: Predators in seven.

Eastern Conference Semifinals: #3 Boston Bruins vs. #8 New York Rangers

10 of 16

    Al Bello/Getty Images

    Season Series: Boston- 1-3-0 New York- 3-1-0

    Playoff History: Boston leads 6-3

    Leading Scorer Against Opposition: Boston- Nathan Horton- 4 points New York- Derek Stepan- 4 points

    Player That Needs To Step Up: Boston- Michael Ryder New York- Erik Christensen

    Key Match-Up: Tim Thomas vs. Henrik Lundqvist

    While Lundqvist will carry the Rangers past the Capitals, Tim Thomas and the Bruins will be too much for the Rangers to get past.

    Prediction: Bruins in five

#5 Tampa Bay Lightning vs. #7 Buffalo Sabres

11 of 16

    Rick Stewart/Getty Images

    Season Series: Both teams 2-2-0

    Playoff History: Never played each other

    Leading Scorer Against Opposition: Tampa Bay- Vincent Lecavalier- 5 points Buffalo- Thomas Vanek- 7 points

    Player That Needs To Step Up: Tampa Bay- Simon Gagne Buffalo- Tyler Myers

    Key Match-Up: Steven Stamkos vs. Ryan Miller

    Roloson can steal the series against Pittsburgh pretty much on his own. Against Buffalo, he will need a little help. Even with Buffalo's forward corps not being as star-studded, they have a goaltender that can steal any series he's apart of. Stamkos, St.Louis, Lecavalier are going to have to go on a hot streak to beat Miller.

    Prediction: Lightning in seven 


Western Conference Semifinals: #1 Vancouver Canucks vs. #6 Phoenix Coyotes

12 of 16

    Rich Lam/Getty Images

    Season Series: Vancouver- 2-2-0 Phoenix- 2-1-1

    Playoff History: Vancouver leads 2-0

    Leading Scorer Against Opposition: Vancouver- Daniel Sedin- 5 points Phoenix- Eric Belanger- 5 points

    Player That Needs To Step Up: Vancouver- Raffi Torres Phoenix- Keith Yandle

    Key Match-Up: The Sedins vs. Ilya Bryzgalov

    It will be considered a miracle when Phoenix beats Detroit. However, lightning rarely strikes twice.

    Prediction: Canucks in five

#2 San Jose Sharks vs. #5 Nashville Predators

13 of 16

    Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

    Season Series: San Jose- 2-2-0 Nashville- 2-0-2

    Playoff History: San Jose leads 2-0

    Leading Scorer Against Opposition: San Jose- Patrick Marleau- 3 points Nashville- Shea Weber- 4 points

    Player That Needs To Step Up: San Jose- Logan Couture Nashville- J.P. Dumont

    Key Match-Up: Antti Niemi vs. Pekka Rinne

    Twice, Nashville has lost to San Jose in the playoffs, and while Nashville would like nothing more than to get some revenge, it's just not in the cards this year.

    Prediction: Sharks in six

Eastern Conference Finals: #3 Boston Bruins vs. #5 Tampa Bay Lightning

14 of 16

    Elsa/Getty Images

    Season Series: Boston- 3-1-0 Tampa Bay- 1-3-0

    Playoff History: Never played each other

    Leading Scorer Against Opposition: Boston- Michael Ryder- 5 points Tampa Bay- Steven Stamkos- 3 points

    Player That Needs To Step Up: Boston- Tyler Seguin Tampa Bay- Simon Gagne

    Key Match-Up: Steven Stamkos vs. Tim Thomas

    This is where the upstart Lightning will finally meet their match against a Boston team that is hungry for a Stanley Cup after years of disappointment.

    Prediction: Bruins in six

Western Conference Finals: #1 Vancouver Canucks vs. #2 San Jose Sharks

15 of 16

    Rich Lam/Getty Images

    Season Series: Vancouver- 3-0-1 San Jose- 1-2-1

    Playoff History: Never played each other

    Leading Scorer Against Opposition: Vancouver- Daniel Sedin- 6 points San Jose- Dany Heatley- 4 points

    Player That Needs To Step Up: Vancouver- Raffi Torres San Jose- Devin Setoguchi

    Key Match-Up: Heatley, Thornton, Marleau vs. Luongo

    The pressure has been taken off of San Jose and been placed on Vancouver, but unlike the Sharks, the Canucks will thrive under that pressure and make it to the Stanley Cup finals.

    Prediction: Canucks in seven

Stanley Cup Finals: #1 Vancouver Canucks vs. #3 Boston Bruins

16 of 16

    Rich Lam/Getty Images

    Season Series: Vancouver 0-1-0 Boston 1-0-0

    Playoff History: Never played each other

    Leading Scorer Against Opposition: Vancouver- Manny Malholtra Boston- Milan Lucic

    Player That Needs To Step Up: Vancouver- The Sedins Boston- Tyler Seguin

    Key Match-Up: Roberto Luongo vs. Tim Thomas

    Boston will make it to the Stanley Cup finals for the 18th time and Vancouver for only the third. It will be a series containing two of the front runners for the Vezina trophy. Vancouver has the edge because of depth, and will bring the Stanley Cup back to Canada.

    Prediction: Canucks in seven

Where can I comment?

Stay on your game

Latest news, insights, and forecasts on your teams across leagues.

Choose Teams
Get it on the App StoreGet it on Google Play

Real-time news for your teams right on your mobile device.

Download
Copyright © 2017 Bleacher Report, Inc. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. All Rights Reserved. BleacherReport.com is part of Bleacher Report – Turner Sports Network, part of the Turner Sports and Entertainment Network. Certain photos copyright © 2017 Getty Images. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of Getty Images is strictly prohibited. AdChoices