Saturday, May 3, 2014

Second Round Playoff Predictions

You know something? I might actually watch a few games in the playoffs this year.

I think we've all forgotten what it's like to watch the playoffs without feeling pressure of the Caps winning or disappointment of the Caps losing (in the playoffs, at least). The snippets of games I've seen, 5 minutes here, a period there, have been quite fun to watch.

Still, the only reason I'd watch them is if no Nats or Wizards games are being played (oh yeah, how 'bout them Wiz Kids!). But why not make predictions, I ask myself. So here they are.

I didn't publish my Western Conference Predictions (you'll have to take my word for it), but I went 5-3 overall, 4-0 in the East (woo-hoo, I think), and 1-3 in the West. The only one I got right was Anaheim over Dallas. I'm hoping to improve on that this round, but I'm still only publishing the East (my West predictions are Anaheim and Chicago).

As always, I compare Offense, Defense, Goaltending, and Special Teams before delivering my final verdict. None of the second-round games that have been played already were taken into account for this.

So let's get started:

#1 Boston Bruins vs. #3 Montreal Canadiens
Offense: Boston was first in goals per game in the regular season, but only seventh in the first round. Montreal was first in goals per game in the first round, but only ninth in the regular season. Still, because this is supposed to be over 7 games, not 82, I'll pick Montreal, barely.
Defense: Boston continued their absolutely stifling D, allowing less than 2 goals per game to Detroit. Boston, easy.
Goaltending: Rask was phenomenal in the first round, with a .930 save percentage, while Price was iffy, with a .910. I'm picking Boston here.
Special Teams: Boston and Montreal both had high power play percentages with low penalty killing percentages. Because this is likely to be a defensive battle, I'll pick Montreal, who has a slightly higher PK percentage.
Prediction: Boston in 7. You know this will be close, any Boston Montreal series always is. This is definitely going the distance, but Boston's just too talented, and with home-ice as well, I say Boston takes this.

#1 Pittsburgh Penguins vs. #2 New York Rangers
Offense: The Rangers struggled to score against Philly, whereas Pittsburgh, although not very impressive, managed to score at a decent clip against Columbus. Pittsburgh definitely has an edge here.
Defense: The Rangers did a great job keeping Philly to as few goals as possible, while Marc-Andre Fleury and the Penguins D struggled to stop the Blue Jackets. Rangers here.
Goaltending: Come on. Marc-Andre Fleury vs. Henrik Lundqvist? This isn't even a contest. Rangers.
Special Teams: Both the Rangers and Penguins were absolutely anemic in special teams in the first round, with the Rangers being held to a PP% under 10%. The Penguins, although not necessarily good, were better, and will need their special teams to do well against a better even strength team. Pittsburgh.
Prediction: New York in 6. I'm going bold here, but I don't even think this will go the distance. Lundqvist is a talented goalie, the Penguins are struggling to score, and the Rangers can definitely beat Fleury more than enough times to rack up four wins. The Rags will eliminate the Pens.

So there are my predictions for the second round: Boston and New York will advance and face-off in the ECF (oh yeah, and the Ducks will play the Blackhawks in the WCF). Let's hope for better results than last round.

Oh, and Go Wizards.