2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs Predictions

Posted: April 29, 2013 in Uncategorized
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Another season is over. For just the second time in 20 years, the Philadelphia Flyers will not be joining the party in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The good news is, I have come to grips with this for a few weeks now, and can focus my attention solely on the talented and exciting teams that did succeed in making the postseason in 2013. SkoodSports did not do an NHL preview due to the lockout. But, that does not mean that there cannot be a postseason preview. Who wants the cup?

First Round

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1. Chicago Blackhawks (37-7-5, 77 pts) vs. 8. Minnesota Wild (26-19-3, 55 pts)

Chicago went an NHL record 24 consecutive games to start the season with at least a point. They have cooled off a little bit since then. But, they’re still the class of the league and Minnesota, in spite of their offseason acquisitions of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, do not play well enough in their own end to put up much of a fight.

The Pick: Blackhawks in 4

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2. Anaheim Ducks (30-12-6, 66 pts) vs. 7. Detroit Red Wings (24-16-8, 56 pts)

The streak is now at 22 for the Detroit Red Wings, who have made the playoffs every year since the first Bush administration. However, this Detroit team is devoid of some of the leadership that they have had in the past with the retirement of Nik Lidstom. They also do not have the forward talent or the defensive depth that Anaheim does.

The Pick: Ducks in 7

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3. Vancouver Canucks (26-15-7, 59 pts) vs. San Jose Sharks (25-16-7, 57 pts)

The age old question of who would win? The whale or the shark? The Canucks barely squeaked by Los Angeles and San Jose to win the Pacific, their stay in the playoffs will depend entirely on how well they play against their division rivals. San Jose swept Vancouver in three games this season.

The Pick: Sharks in 7

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4. St. Louis Blues (29-17-2, 60 pts) vs. 5. Los Angeles Kings (27-16-5, 59 pts)

This is a rematch from last year in which the Kings smoked the Blues en route to their first Stanley Cup. Both of these teams are strong defensively with good goaltending and sound coaching. But, Los Angeles has continued to have St. Louis’ number due to their offensive depth. That will remain the seem this series.

The Pick: Kings in 6

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 1. Pittsburgh Penguins (36-12-0, 72 pts) vs. 8. New York Islanders (24-17-7, 55 pts)

Pittsburgh took four of five from the Islanders this season, and have not lost in overtime all season. It would be humorous to see them lose their first overtime game of the season in the playoffs. But, I do not see it happening against the Islanders. Tavares and Moulson are great. But, Pittsburgh’s depth dwarfs New York’s.

The Pick: Penguins in 5

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2. Montreal Canadiens (29-14-5, 63 pts) vs. 7. Ottawa Senators (25-17-6, 56 pts)

Who would have thought after last season that Montreal would surge to the top of the East? The Canadiens have a solid top-six. But, they’re a bit undersized, and that should hurt them as the hits keep coming later in the playoffs. Still, Ottawa is not exactly a finished product.

The Pick: Canadiens in 7

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3. Washington Capitals (27-18-3, 57 pts) vs. 6. New York Rangers (26-18-4, 56 pts)

We have had the privilege of watching these two teams duel in the playoffs for four of the last five seasons now. Washington is one of the hottest teams in the league in the second half of the abbreviated season. The Rangers have been playing well, too. I see New York’s stars coming out to play.

The Pick: Rangers in 6

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4. Boston Bruins (28-14-6, 60 pts) vs. 5. Toronto Maple Leafs (26-17-5, 57 pts)

The Bruins have not been playing their best hockey since the Boston Marathon bombings. But, Toronto has the least playoff experience of any team, having not made the Big Dance since 2004. One would be crazy to assume that a team with no playoff experience would beat a team with a ton of it, right?

The Pick: Bruins in 6

Second Round

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1. Chicago Blackhawks vs. 6. San Jose Sharks

The Sharks have struggled against Chicago in the playoffs for the last five years. That is unlikely to change when Chicago possesses such a wide array of talent at forward and on the blue-line.

The Pick: Blackhawks in 6

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2. Anaheim Ducks vs. 5. Los Angeles Kings

The Ducks have had a spectacular year. The Kings are the defending Cup champions. One has to go down in round two. If history tells us anything, it is that repeating for a cup is nearly impossible. After all, no one has done it since the Red Wings in 1998. Anaheim will take down their rivals from L.A.

The Pick: Ducks in 7

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1. Pittsburgh Penguins vs. 6. New York Rangers

If this series were to come to fruition, it would immediately become the most hyped series in the entire playoffs. The Penguins and Rangers each boast superstars and are divisional rivals. Pittsburgh has owned New York in recent years, and that trend should not change in the playoffs.

The Pick: Penguins in 5

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2. Montreal Canadiens vs. 4. Boston Bruins

These two teams hate each other nearly as much as their fan bases do. Montreal and Boston is an original six lover’s dream. The Bruins did struggle down the stretch, and Montreal showed that they are game. But, Boston just has more experience and grit.

The Pick: Bruins in 7

Conference Finals

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1. Chicago Blackhawks vs. 2. Anaheim Ducks

Most years, picking the #1 seed to mow their way through the playoffs is a death wish. But, the lockout will likely keep player’s legs fresh and allow for deeper runs for the better equipped teams. Anaheim will give Chicago a fight. But, their two seven-game series prior to this will take just enough out of them.

The Pick: Blackhawks in 6

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1. Pittsburgh Penguins vs 4. Boston Bruins

Pittsburgh and Chicago have been the class of the league all season. Boston has been right behind them, and should be proud of the season that they have had. However, the Penguins and Blackhawks are the class of the NHL, and one should not consider a series loss to them anything more than a hard fought battle against a better team.

The Pick: Penguins in 5

Stanley Cup Finals

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1. Chicago Blackhawks vs. 1. Pittsburgh Penguins

The last time two #1 seeds met in the finals was 2001. So, I am probably taking myself out of the realm of realism here. But, these have been the two best teams from day one. Pittsburgh only got better by acquiring veterans like Jarome Iginla, Brandon Morrow, and Douglas Murray. Chicago, meanwhile, has dominated their conference all year. I would be shocked if at least one of these teams was not in the final. All in all, I like Chicago to win their second Stanley Cup in four years. Pittsburgh just does not have the defense to handle Chicago’s multiple line attack.

The Pick: Chicago Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup in 5 games. 

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