We are slightly more than one quarter of the way through the 2015-2016 NHL season. I happened to be on the league’s website and in the standings tab, you can click on ‘Playoffs’ in which it will break down the playoff matchups as of today (12/02/2015).
Looking through these standings, I found some very intriguing matchups and figured I would share them with you along with my predictions for who would win.
Let’s take a look at the Western Conference first:
Dallas vs. Minnesota – Dallas is the top team in the west and only two points behind Montreal for the top spot in the league. If this matchup were to start today, I would pick Dallas in five games over Minnesota. Dallas is too good in every aspect of their game right now and Minnesota just got Parise back from injury. Lehtonen is also returning to the Stars lineup which gives them the Niemi/Lehtonen punch they were looking for all along.
St. Louis vs. Nashville – I think this series would go down to the wire. I am still not confident St. Louis can get it done in the playoffs and I think Rinne and Co. in Nashville do everything in their power to not let another first round disappointment happen. Nashville in 7.
Los Angeles vs. Chicago – This would be an epic series. These two teams have met in the Western Conference finals 3 of the last four seasons. Los Angeles had a terrible start to their season, but has since found its stride. Kane cannot continue to do everything on his own and Crawford has been suspect. LA in 6.
San Jose vs. Arizona – This would be a very intriguing matchup. You basically have old vs new. Who would win? Would Thornton, Marleau and Pavelski prove to be savvy vets or would Domi, Hanzal and OEL provide too frantic of a pace for the grey beards? I think Jones outplays Smith and SJ moves on in 7.
The conference semi-finals would pit Dallas vs Nashville and LA vs SJ. I think Dallas proves to be too much for the Predators and Rinne cannot hold back the onslaught of offense. Dallas in 6.
In the other matchup, I think Jones plays well, but the style and gameplay is too much. LA once again has SJ’s number and beats them in 6.
The conference finals would match the LA Kings vs Dallas Stars. Again, I think the offense firepower is abundant for Dallas, however, Quick and the Kings defense are no slouch. Carter and Toffoli provide as much offense as Sequin and Benn. In the end the experience of the Kings prevails in an absolute battle for the ages. Kings in 7.
The Eastern Conference matchups display more fireworks than the fourth of July.
First up, Montreal vs Boston. Original 6. Rivalry. These matchups don’t ever go less than 7 games, however, Price is injured and Boston comes away with the win.
Detroit vs Ottawa – Out of the four matchups, by far the least glamorous, but nonetheless Detroit keeps making the playoffs. This time, they do not disappoint their fans and dispatch the Sens handily in the first round behind great performance from Larkin and Mrazek. Detroit in 5.
NYR vs NYI – The only way this could be better would be in the ECF, however, that would never be possible given the current structure. Lundqvist has been off a bit over the last couple of games, but this does not slow down this machine. NYR in 6.
Washington vs Pittsburgh – In the only sweep of the first round, Washington proves to be too much for Pittsburgh as they shut down Malkin. Crosby and Kessel play as they have been all year and MAF just can’t hold them in games against Ovie, Backstrom, Kuznetsov and Oshie. Caps in 4.
Eastern Conference Semi-Finals display Boston vs Detroit in another original six matchup. Unfortunately for Boston, they are banged up from the Montreal series, Rask does not play as he has in the past and Detroit comes out on top in 6 games.
The Rangers vs Caps series apparently happens just about every post-season. This time Washington ends the Rangers streak of ECF appearances. Holtby outplays Lundy and Washington has too much offensive firepower to match. Washington in 6.
Mike Green faces his former team in the ECF as Detroit and Washington meet up. Detroit had been riding the hot hand of Mrazek, but they run into a wall when they meet the Capitals. Carlson solidifies himself as one of the best defensemen in the league and his name becomes synonymous with the Conn Smyth trophy. Washington in 6.
The Stanley Cup Finals showcase offensive firepower, great goaltending from two guys who carry more than their share of the load and physical gameplay. Early in the series LA is able to stifle Washington with their physical presence much like they were able to shut down Dallas. LA jumps out to a 2-0 lead heading back to Washington. Washington wins game three in Oshie’s coming out party where he collects four points. LA wins game four and take a 3-1 series lead. As dynasty would have it though Ovechkin leads his team back and pots the game winner in Ovie-like fashion during game 7.
Yes, you read that right. Ovechkin hoists the Cup!