I love playoff hockey and everything that accompanies it. The top quality on-ice performances, the drama and suspense of each game, and of course, picking the correct winners for each series. Fellow ModelSportsFan writers Brook Dickinson, Shane O’Neill, and Bobby Tannock also share this passion, so we have decided to have a little friendly competition and pick our favourites for the 2014 NHL Playoffs, starting of course with the Quarter-finals. Here is part one on the Eastern Conference:
Bruins vs. Red Wings – Bruins have a Vezina winner in net with Tuukka Rask, the best 2 way player in the game in Patrice Bergeron, a perennial Norris candidate on the blue line (Chara), a resurgent Jarome Iginla, all topped off with a nice mix of youth, and these guys are simply too deep in all areas. They are my cup pick.
Bruins in 5
Lightning vs. Canadiens – This is going to be a tight battle. Tampa has the best pure goal scorer in the league in Steven Stamkos, and he’s healthy again. Montreal has a top 5 defense which is anchored by an Olympic gold winning Carey Price, who will receive Vezina consideration this year. In a tight series, I always believe superior goaltending will prevail.
Canadiens in 6.
Penguins vs. Blue Jackets - This series has upset city written all over it and I’m terrified of this pick, but going on the ‘odds’ that Marc-Andre Fleury finally proves us all wrong and shows up for the playoffs. More importantly they hold the best player on the planet and his ‘will’ alone could beat the Blue Jackets.
Penguins in 6.
Rangers vs. Flyers - Both teams have similar patterns in that they had slower starts than expected, but both rebounded nicely. Claude Giroux is one of the top 5 hottest players in the NHL right now, but New York has a strong blue line, backed by a far superior goaltender. To top it off, the biggest game breaker between the two teams belongs to the Rangers in Rick Nash.
Rangers in 7.
Bruins vs. Red Wings – Should be the best series of the round. Rask and Loui Eriksson (seriously) are my game breaker in this one.
Bruins in 7
Lighting vs. Canadiens – Bolts should miss Marty St. Louis and Price should shut the door.
Canadiens in 6
Penguins vs. Blue Jackets – I didn’t even realize the Blue Jackets were in the Eastern Conference until 3 weeks ago. So Penguins in 5?
Pens in 5
Rangers vs. Flyers - King Henrik will reign supreme.
Rangers in 6
Bruins vs. Red Wings -
The Red Wings have the speed and the system to make this series interesting, but I don’t see them beating the President’s Trophy winners.
Bruins in 6
Penguins vs. Blue Jackets - It’s a gut feeling. I think Columbus wins this one. The Blue Jackets have been playing playoff-style hockey for over two weeks now, and the Penguins goaltender is Marc-André Fleury.
Blue Jackets in 7
Lightning vs. Canadiens - Sure the Canadiens have been on fire of late, and Benny “The Bish” Bishop is gammy, but did you see Kristers Gudlevskis backstopping Latvia in the Olympics? Tampa has the home-ice advantage too. I’m taking them.
Lightning in 7
Rangers vs. Flyers - The Rangers have too many questions right now. Can Nash and St. Louis step it up? Is Ryan McDonagh 100%, and can he stay healthy? Do they have a power play at all? I’ll take the Flyers.
Flyers in 5
Bruins vs. Red Wings - Though the Red Wings have their young guns flying, on top of winning the season series against Boston, I still don’t see them beating the deepest team in the league that is the bog, bad Bruins. First step towards a Stanley Cup run.
Bruins in 5
Penguins vs. Blue Jackets - Too many question marks surround the Pens. Will Fleury play quality playoff hockey for the first time since 2009? Will Malkin and Letang be 100%? Can they find consistent secondary scoring? With the Blue Jackets chemistry and outstanding goaltending of Sergei BOBROVSKY (!!!), I’m going with the upset
Blue Jackets in 7
Lightning vs. Canadiens - It still boggles my mind Montreal made the playoffs. Mediocre team who do happen to have the best goalie in the game. Even with Bishop out, the emerging chemistry of Stamkos-Callahan and the consistency of the 2/3/4 lines (many of whom played together on the 2012 Calder Cup team) impress me. As long as Lindback is decent, the Bolts should win.
Lightning in 6
Rangers vs. Flyers - Should be a great series, as these two clubs have much in common. The only difference is that the Rangers possess the best goalie statistically in the NHL in the calendar year of 2014 with Lundqvist, while I’m still not sold on the Flyers Steve Mason. I believe goaltending will be the deciding factor.
Rangers in 6
There are the picks for round one in the East, and don’t forgot to check out part two on the Western picks right here on MSF.com. Also, the stipulation for this competition is the winner makes the other three take a photo in a jersey of the winners choice!
Photo Credits to sportbet.com, pghsportstalk.com, zimbio.com, and wikipedia.org