New York Rangers vs Pittsburgh Penguins
I have to go with New York. They are no doubt the stronger team in ever aspect of the game. Pittsburgh’s offense isn’t as good as it was in past seasons, New York’s much better. Like always the defense of Pittsburgh is inconsistent. Pittsburgh’s power play is stronger, but New York doesn’t take as many penalties as Pittsburgh. Plus, both kills are very good and about even, so I don’t see that much of an edge for either in special teams. With Pittsburgh struggling (which hasn’t surprised me with Rutherford as GM) and New York playing very well, I see the Rangers coming out on top; I think the only team that can beat them is Montreal.
St. Louis Blues vs Minnesota Wild
This series comes down to goaltending and defense. The offense favors St. Louis by .14 goals for per game. Their power play is much stronger at 22.3%, compared to 15.9% for Minnesota. The Wild’s penalty kill is much stronger at 86.3%, while St. Louis is at 83.7%. Minnesota also takes less penalties. The defense is about even, separated by only .01 goals against. That’s why it comes down to Allen (confirmed as the starter over Elliot) versus Dubnyk, who has been fantastic since he arrived to Minnesota. I am going to take St. Louis with their stronger offense and much stronger power play. While the Wild are more disciplined, it’s not enough of a difference in the number of penalties taken to tame the Blues’ power play.
Detroit Red Wings vs Tampa Bay Lightning
I have to pick Tampa Bay in this series. Their offense is lethal, ranked number one, averaging 3.16 goals for per game, compared to Detroit’s 2.88. The defense favors Tampa Bay, and it is very hard to get past Ben Bishop, who is a monster in goal at 6’7″. The power play is Detroit’s advantage, but Tampa is still pretty good, and facing the 3rd most penalized team in the league. The kill favors Tampa, so I would say special teams cancel each other out with these two. Mrazek might make things interesting with how he’s played, though.
Winnipeg Jets vs Anaheim Ducks
I’m predicting an upset over Anaheim for Winnipeg. The offenses are very close, but the defense favors Winnipeg. Anaheim’s power play is awful, while Winnipeg’s is a bit stronger. The Kill also favors Winnipeg by a slim margin. Pavelec has had a solid season for Winnipeg in goal, and so has Andersen for Anaheim, but not as good. Pavelec has a goals against average of 2.28 this season along with a .920 SV%, Andersen having a 2.38 GAA and a .914 SV%. I think overall, this matchup favors Winnipeg enough to pull out an upset.