This is the first of three posts regarding my predictions for the NHL Playoffs 2013 as three first-round series start this evening in the Western Conference. I heard on radio today that flipping a coin is as good as trying to predict the outcome of some particular series. The odds in Las Vegas were out on Monday. Not that I rely on these too much but it is Interesting how some teams are definitely labeled as underdogs. As far as I am concerned I make predictions according to how ”hot” or ”cold” the teams are entering the playoffs, how experienced each roster has in past playoffs, their respective coaching staffs and of course goaltending which as you know can win you a Stanley Cup – think Tim Thomas version 2011 here.
With that said here are my predictions along with analysis and comments for the three series starting this evening:
- Minnesota Wild (8) vs Chicago Blackhawks (1)
What else could we add to comment on the Hawks’ performance this season I wonder. I don’t think they are taking anything for granted with the Wild but in my opinion Chicago is the most confident team in the league. With the Jennings trophy going to Emery and Crawford for less goals allowed by a team the defense and the goalies have accomplished wonders for the Hawks. Add to that a second place overall in the league for Goals for per game (GF/G). Among top players Patrick Kane has finally got back in scoring mode this season and him alone could spark the offense when necessary. Both the Hawks and the Wild are in the middle of the pack for PP% so no real advantage there for a team. Both played well at home. The Wild will not be an easy prey but they are just not ready yet for what they are aiming for with the money they spent last summer. The goaltending has been questionable at times. They were officially in the playoffs on Saturday. Heatley is still injured. They will need to score more than their 2,46% GF/G to create an upset.
Prediction: Chicago in 5.
- Los Angeles Kings (5) vs St.Louis Blues (4)
The Blues have constantly improved though out the short season despite various issues with goaltending. Lately however they have one of the NHL’s hottest goaltenders in Brian Elliott, who went 11-2 in April, allowing one goal or less 10 times. Last year’s Conn Smythe trophy winner Jonathan Quick will have to show greatness again for the Kings to score 3-4 goals per game. Both of these teams have allowed the same Goals against per game (GA/G) % with 2,38%. I could toss a coin here but I don’t think St.Louis will be able to beat the Champions. Mind you I don’t think as well the Kings will repeat this year but they will make it to the second-round. Jeff Carter could be the difference maker for the Kings. I don’t see any player who can do the same for St.Louis. Too much experience and pride in Los Angeles to drop that contest.
Prediction: Los Angeles in 6.
- Detroit Red Wings (7) vs Anaheim Ducks (2)
That one will be short. I am not a fan of the Ducks and the Wings are my second favorite team in the West after the Hawks. This will be the upset among first-round series as Jimmy Howard will make miracles and the Ducks will fall short. I just have a feeling that Babcock will make miracles with his team. It will be a long series with details making the difference and coaching is one.
Prediction: Detroit in 7.
I will back tomorrow with predictions on the three other series starting. In the meantime let’s see what we’re gonna get this evening.