The 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs are officially underway and I am sure most of you have your brackets all filled out already just like I do.
It's a crazy competitive year, so predictions seem absolutely insane, but I will try and do my best to break down how I think Round 1 will go.
Dallas Stars Vs. Minnesota Wild
Dallas took Game 1 with relative ease and I expect the rest of the series to continue along this path. Although the Wild had a surge in the second half of this season while the Stars got a tad bit rockier, I still believe the Stars will take this one in five games.
Chicago Blackhawks Vs. St. Louis Blues
This series is a lot closer than some might imagine and Game 1 was proof of that. Although the Blues eked one out in overtime, I still have faith that the Blackhawks will pull through and take this series. With the firepower that Chicago has, Elliott would have to have the series of his career. He was unbelievable in Game 1, but I don't believe that he can keep up that kind of pace. Blackhawks take this one in six games.
Anaheim Ducks Vs. Nashville Predators
This series hasn't gotten started yet, but in my opinion it may be one of the easier ones to take a stab at. The Anaheim Ducks have proven themselves to be a powerful team in the West while the Preds have consistently been in or around the playoffs, they still haven't shown us that they are a force to be reckoned with. Unless Nashville shows us something completely different than what I have seen, Anaheim takes this one in five games.
Los Angeles Kings Vs. San Jose Sharks
Game 1 between these rivals was already a treat. San Jose inevitably won the back and forth game 4-3, but L.A. never quit and kept the pressure on, looking for an equalizer all the way down to the final horn. Although they are down a game, we all know that doesn't mean much for the Kings....and it is after all an even year......I feel like the Kings will end up taking this series in six games.
Washington Capitals Vs. Philadelphia Flyers
I am sure I am not the only one who would like to see a Philadelphia/Pittsburgh second round match-up, but regardless of Washington's knack for choking in the playoffs, I get the feeling this may be their year to make it to the Championship dance. The Flyers are gritty, but in the end the Caps will prevail in six games.
New York Rangers Vs. Pittsburgh Penguins
On paper the New York Rangers always look like one of the toughest teams in the NHL and in all reality, they consistently are. With that said, Alain Vigneault still has playoff demons following him each season. With New York missing some key defensive pieces early, I see the Penguins and their head of steam taking this series in six games. That is of course if their goalies hold up...
Detroit Red Wings Vs. Tampa Bay Lightning
This one could be close. Detroit barely squeaked into the playoffs for the 25th time in a row and Tampa Bay is without their sniper, Steven Stamkos. I always love Detroit in a close series, therefore I am picking the Wings to take this one in seven games.
New York Islanders Vs. Florida Panthers
Florida has been pretty strong all season, but the Isles came out on a mission in Game 1. Although Luongo has had his playoff troubles in the past though, I think he'll give it all he has this year and so I see Florida coming out with the series win in six games.
Be sure to share your predictions as well!