* Ducks over Jets (7): This series has seven games written all over it, and it’s written in chalk. Anaheim will win all four of their home games but the Jets will win their three home games since there is no doubt the Winnipeg fans will be going absolutely nuts at their first taste of playoff hockey in almost two decades. A Jets upset wouldn’t really surprise me at all, and not just because of the home-ice thing; Anaheim was middle of the pack in Corsi percentage while Winnipeg was top-eight.
* Flames over Canucks (6): Well, why not. Nothing Calgary has done over the last six months has made any logical sense, so they might as well steal a playoff round while they’re at it. It helps the Flames that they’re facing a pretty meh opponent in Vancouver, to boot.
* Blues over Wild (7): Many folks are picking this as the obligatory first-round upset, though I’m zigging while others are zagging and picking St. Louis to indeed win, albeit in a seven-gamer. I realize that picking STL against a) the theory of goaltending momentum, b) the Blues’ long and proud tradition of playoff choking, c) my personal enjoyment of the state of Minnesota, and d) the Wild’s awesome deep green alternate jerseys. I’m going to stop listing reasons before I decide to change my pick.
* Blackhawks over Predators (6): This one’s kind of a tossup, though in the end, I’m bowing to Chicago’s vast playoff experience. I did pick them to win the Cup in preseason (under the “flip a coin between the Hawks and Kings” logic) so the least I can do is predict them to take a round. For Predators fan, you can take consolation in the fact that my parents recently visited Nashville and enjoyed the city, so really, isn’t that worth so much more than a measly Stanley Cup?
* Senators over Canadiens (7): Aha, now THIS is my first-round upset. Montreal is a borderline playoff team that owns a top seed by dint of the fact that Carey Price played like a boss for six months and is going to win the Hart and Vezina with ease. If Price’s play dips even a bit, the Canadiens are in big trouble, and lo and behold, they happen to be matched up against a team with another red-hot goaltender in the awesomely-nicknamed Andrew “Hamburglar” Hammond. This is where I see Ottawa’s stunning Cinderella run continue, and Habs fans continuing to complain about their not winning a Cup since 1993. (As a Leafs fan, cry me a river.)
* Lightning over Red Wings (5): Steve Yzerman is so beloved in Detroit that his team is going to roll over the Wings and the city won’t even be mad. I may be underrating the Red Wings’ chances here, though part of me is hoping that a first-round blowout loss will inspire Mike Babcock to leave and join the Leafs. Then the Leafs will win the draft lottery for McDavid. Then Borje Salming and Daryl Sittler will announce that they discovered the fountain of youth while on a fishing trip and are coming out of retirement. #PipeDreams
* Rangers over Penguins (5): More fun with Corsi statistics, as Pittsburgh finished fifth in the league while New York was only 20th. This is a case where the numbers don’t reflect how the Penguins have absolutely staggered across the finish line, however. It’s possible Crosby and company could quickly discover what ails them, but it’s probably a better bet that the Rangers advance without much trouble.
* Capitals over Islanders (7): Probably the biggest tossup of the first round. There’s a certain dramatic aspect to picking the Isles in their last season on Long Island and so it sets up a wonderful New York/New York rivalry series in the second round, but that’s just too easy. Washington plays yet another seven-game series against a New York team but this time comes out on the winning side.
* Ducks over Flames (6)
* Blackhawks over Blues (6)
* Lightning over Senators (6)
* Capitals over Rangers (7)
* Blackhawks over Ducks (6)
* Lightning over Capitals (5)
* Lightning over Blackhawks in six games to win the Stanley Cup. Is this just me hedging on my preseason pick? You bet!