2011 Playoffs – Round 1 Predictions

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

Everyone enjoys the playoffs, but I really love Round 1. There are 3 or 4 games a night and they all mean something. 

Plus, there’s always at least one first round upset.

So, without further ado, here are my somewhat biased and totally unscientific Round 1 playoff predictions:

Things got really tight in the Western Conference, especially at the end. A mere 2 points separated the 4th seed from the 8th seed(there were 3 teams with 99 points, 1 with 98 and 1 with 97). If anything, this shows how evenly-matched many of these teams are.

Series: Vancouver Canucks (1) vs. Chicago Blackhawks (8)

My Prediction: Blackhawks win in 6 games.

Comments: Even though I am a Chicago Blackhawks fan, I have no delusions about them repeating as Stanley Cup Champions this season. Eighth place teams just don’t do that.

But at the same time, if we can count on one thing, it is that the best team in the league usually chokes sooner or later (the Sharks last year, the Capitals 2 years ago).

This is going to be the first-round upset in the Western Conference.

Series: San Jose Sharks (2) vs. Los Angeles Kings (7)

My Prediction: Sharks win in 5 games.

Comments: The Kings have had a decent year, but the Sharks are a better team. Plus, the Kings lost Anze Kopitar–their best player. Even with Kopitar in the lineup, there’s no guarantee that the Kings would win. But with him gone, they won’t stand a chance against the Sharks.

Series: Detroit Red Wings (3) vs. Phoenix Coytoes

My Prediction: Red Wings win in 7 games.

Comments: The Red Wings are too good to not make it to the second round. But the Coyotes–led by goalie Ilya Bryzgalov–have had a breakout year. The way Bryzgalov has played, I could see him single-handedly winning the series for the ‘Yotes. Win or lose, he will still make things miserable for Detroit.

Series: Anaheim Mighty Ducks (4)  vs. Nashville Predators (5)

My Prediction: Ducks win in 5 games.

Comments: The Ducks would sweep the Predators if they had Jonas Hiller in net. But Hiller is still suffering from (all things) vertigo. Yes, the Preds have a darn good defensive corps, led by Shea Weber and Ryan Suter. But the Ducks have Huey, Duey and Luey….or make that Ryan, Corey and Bobby. And that Teemu guy ain’t too bad either, even at 40.

I usually don’t pay much attention to The East unless there’s a Pens-Flyers series. Maybe in Round 2. But first, Round 1. So…

Series: Washington Capitals (1) vs. New York Rangers (8)

My Prediction: Captials sweep in 4.

Comments: Ovechtrick! Ovechtrick! Ovechtrick!

Yeah, Alexander Ovechkin has been hot and cold this season, but either way the Capitals are good enough to sweep New York. And the Rangers are bad enough to be the team that gets swept.

Series: Philadelphia Flyers (2) vs. Buffalo Sabres (7)

My Prediction: Flyers win in 6 games.

Comments: The Flyers were a good team this year, and they’ll probably make it to the Finals again. Not saying they’re gonna win it all–they might be like the Boston Bruins were in the late 1980s, a team good enough to get there but not good enough to win it all.

Other than Ryan Miller, the Sabres do little to impress me.

Series: Boston Bruins (3) vs. Montreal Canadiens (6)

My Prediction: Bruins win in 6 games.

Comments: I might watch this series–not to see great goal scoring and awesome saves by Tim Thomas and Carey Price.

Nope. I might watch it to see if the Canadians–or more specifically, the Canadiens fans–do or say anything about the whole Zdeno Chara / Max Pacioretty incident. Will the “Death to Chara!” signs be written in English or French? Will there be a 7-foot tall Zdeno Chara pinata hanging from the rafters of the Bell Center?

Series: Pittsburgh Penguins (4) vs. Tampa Bay Lightning (5) 

My Prediction: Penguins win in 7.

Comments: The Penguins won’t get far without Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. But they’ll make it at least to the next round.

Two years ago, I was 12 for 15 in my playoff predictions (80%).

Last year, I was 10 for 15–down to 66%. But that’s OK, because the ‘Hawks won the Cup.

How will I do this year? Hopefully, well enough to win Captain Canuck’s playoff contest.

And if you really like playoff-themed contests, there’s one on the blog Drop the Gloves, too.


Author: Sal Barry

Sal Barry is the editor and webmaster of Puck Junk. He is a freelance hockey writer, college professor and terrible hockey player. Follow him on Twitter @puckjunk

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