I’ll start with all the series that are starting today.
NY Islanders vs Washington Capitals
I’m going to go with Washington in this series. The offensive strength of both teams is about equal, with New York having a slight edge. Washington has an edge in special teams, but New York has taken one of the least penalties in the league this season, and if the amount of penalties Washington has taken this season as one of the most penalized teams, they even out. If it turned into a defensive and goaltending battle, Washington has a better chance at winning, and to me, it beats out the slight offensive advantage New York has. Plus, New York has struggled the past month and a half, and don’t look as strong as they did earlier this season, while Washington has been very strong down the stretch.
Montreal Canadiens vs Ottawa Senators
Before the season began, I predicted Montreal to win it all, and I’m sticking with it. The defense and especially the goaltending with Carey Price in net will be too strong for anyone to handle in a seven game series. Price is arguably the best goalie in the NHL, and is in the race for both the Hart and Vezina Memorial Trophies. I would maybe argue that if he didn’t get injured in the conference finals last season, they might have made it to the Stanley Cup Finals. Ottawa has had a strong run, so I think they’ll give Montreal a run for their money, but I believe the Habs will prevail.
Chicago Blackhawks vs Nashville Predators
I am going to take Chicago for this series. Nashville wins offensively, but defensively the edge favors Chicago by quite a bit, even with Nashville having Pekka Rinne in net. Patrick Kane is back healthy, so I expect him to make a big contribution as always. Special teams favors Chicago on both the kill and the man advantage, although both power-plays are pretty weak. Still Chicago is one of the least penalized teams, Nashville take more over the course of the season, so that extends the Blackhawks edge. I believe it will be a close series, though.
Calgary Flames vs Vancouver Canucks
This is very close. They are almost equal in every category. The only big advantage Vancouver has is their penalty kill, which is one of the best at 85.7%, compared to 80.6% for Calgary. That being said, Calgary has taken the fewest penalties in the league, while Vancouver has taken the 8th most, leaving a gap of 80 penalties, which foreshadows more opportunities for Calgary on the power-play, which is about even. I believe Calgary will be victorious, as overall, they seem to have the edge. Plus, they are one of the hardest working teams and can outwork any team. I do not think Lack can carry Vancouver through the playoffs, either, as Ryan Miller is still out with a knee injury. With Hiller and Ramo, Calgary wins the goaltending battle.