The brackets are filled and the most exciting time of the year is just around the corner. The first round of the playoffs, where you get 4 hard hitting, fast paced games every night. The match-ups this year are all very intriguing, so here are the four guys from BTI to take you a little bit deeper and give you their predictions.
(ranking are based on where they are in conference standings)
Washington Capitals (1) vs Philadelphia Flyers (7)
Tyler Yaremchuk: Washington might have a history of choking, but this should be a series they walk through. It concerns me that Washington hasn’t had a must win game all year and Philly has been essentially playing playoff hockey for months now. Washington is just too deep, have a great goalie as well as one of the best coaches in the game. Washington in 5.
Taylor Paniccia: Out of the three teams that were battling for those last two spots in the Eastern Conference race I believe the Capitals got the toughest matchup in the Flyers. That been said I don’t think the Flyers can beat a well-rounded Presidents Trophy team in the Capitals. Holtby is at a level no other goalie has touched this season and the Capitals offence is just too overpowered. Capitals in 5 games.
Josh Goodings: Washington in 5
Niti Krasniqi: Washington Capitals in 6.
BTI PREDICTS: Capitals in 5 is the consensus.
Tampa Bay Lightning (6) vs Detroit Red Wings (8)
Tyler Yaremchuk: This one is the least interesting out of all of the playoff series in my mind. I like Tampa Bay’s goaltending and back end more, even without Stralman. Drouin will also play a huge role in this series, if he shows up and plays well then it gives Tampa some really good secondary scoring. The Lightning had a better GA/60 in the regular season, while the Wings have a healthier forward group. Its Tampa’s goaltending vs Detroit’s offense in my opinion. I’ll take Tampa Bay to win this one is 7 seven games.
Taylor Paniccia: The Detroit Red Wings will expose a beat up Tampa Bay team and take them down in the first round even though they just barely squeaked in to keep the longest playoff streak record alive at 25 years. This is also Datsyuk’s going away party which means fortune could be in their favour. Wings in 7 games.
Josh Goodings: Tampa Bay in 6.
Niti Krasniqi: Tampa Bay in 5.
BTI PREDICTS: Tampa in 6 is our decision on this one.
Pittsburgh Penguins (2) vs New York Rangers (4)
Tyler Yaremchuk: Pittsburgh is hot. That second line of Hagelin-Bonino-Kessel has been one of the best lines in hockey as of late. I really like the Rangers forward group, but with no McDonough their defense is suspect. Lundqvist could steal this thing, but word is Fleury could be ready for game 1 so goaltending should not be heavily favoured to either team. This really should be one of the most entertaining series from. These teams have both had really good regular seasons and know how to score goals. They rank 3/4 in GF% at 5v5. But in terms of possession the advantage goes to the Pens and it isn’t even close. Pittsburgh is top 3 in both SF% as well as CF%. Pittsburgh has that ability to dominate games and I don’t see that with the Rangers. Penguins in 6.
Taylor Paniccia: A great first round Eastern Conference matchup. The Penguins are hotter than ever and so is Sidney Crosby and when Sidney Crosby is hot the rest of the team feeds off it and produces as well. With great depth players the Pittsburgh Penguins will knock out a big, fast, New York Rangers hockey club in the first round. Penguins in 6 games.
Josh Goodings: Pittsburgh in 7
Niti Krasniqi: Fleury is concussed and a little shaky. Lundqvist could steal this one even though Pittsburgh has a better team. Rangers in 7.
BTI PREDICTS: We can’t agree here either, but Pittsburgh in 7 is our democratic choice.
Florida Panthers (3) vs New York Islanders (5)
Tyler Yaremchuk: No Halak, a beat up forward group and Hamonic isnt 100%. Florida is young and should have a lot of energy going into this series. Luongo has been great all season and Gerard Gallant has this team going every night. Florida has one of the easiest paths to the Eastern Conference Finals and they really deserve to be there. The Panthers start their run with a 4 game sweep of the Isles.
Taylor Paniccia: The Florida Panthers have a veteran netminder in Roberto Luongo who has been there done that. While I think the Florida Panthers fluked through most of the season I like this matchup for them against a weak Islanders roster. With Halak out look for the Islanders to be out as well. Panthers in 6 games.
Josh Goodings: Panthers in 7.
Niti Krasniqi: Florida in 7.
BTI PREDICTS: Panthers in 6 games in our choice.
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