2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs predictions

Movie quote of the day:

“If you were in the wild, I would attack you, even if you weren’t in my food chain. I would go out of my way to attack you. If I were a lion and you were a tuna, I would swim out in the middle of the ocean and freaking eat you. And then I’d bang your tuna girlfriend.”

– Terry Hoitz, “The Other Guys” (2010)

A few months ago I stepped outside of my comfort zone and started to make a habit of watching hockey. Ever since then, I managed to keep up with games and what was going on in the NHL – and I’ve enjoyed every second of it. I’m really stepping outside my comfort zone this time and try to do Stanley Cup Playoffs predictions, even though I’m not calling myself an expert on the sport by any means. However, I feel like I know enough to make a blog post about my predictions.

Eastern Conference standings

Atlantic division:
1. Montreal Canadiens – 103 points
2. Ottawa Senators – 98 points
3. Boston Bruins – 95 points

Metropolitan division:
1. Washington Capitals – 118 points
2. Pittsburgh Penguins – 111 points
3. Columbus Blue Jackets – 108 points

Wild card:
1. New York Rangers – 102 points
2. Toronto Maple Leafs – 95 points

Western Conference standings

Central division:
1. Chicago Blackhawks – 109 points
2. Minnesota Wild – 106 points
3. St. Louis Blues – 99 points

Pacific division:
1. Anaheim Ducks – 105 points
2. Edmonton Oilers – 103 points
3. San Jose Sharks – 99 points

Wild card:
1. Calgary Flames – 94 points
2. Nashville Predators – 94 points

First round:

Eastern Conference

New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist makes a glove save against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

A1. Montreal Canadiens (47-26-9) vs. WC1. New York Rangers (48-28-6)

Montreal has the better defense than the Rangers with Shea Weber and Andrei Markov on the blue line, and Carey Price in the net. However, the Canadiens struggle to score points, averaging scoring just 2.7 goals per game – ranking No. 15 in the league. In the playoffs, teams have to be able to score just as much as playing good defense. The Rangers have a good enough defense – No. 12 in the league – and are one of the league’s best scoring goals.

Prediction: Rangers in seven

Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson skates with the puck. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

A2. Ottawa Senators (44-28-10) vs. A3. Boston Bruins (44-31-7)

Boston has had a lot of injuries to its defense recently, but I’m not sure that’s going to be much of an issue because Ottawa only scored 212 goals in the regular season – ranking last among playoff teams. The Bruins called up top prospect Charlie McAvoy to help bring some much needed depth to their blue line, and they get leading scorer Brad Marchand back from a suspension. Boston was one of the hottest teams in the league before losing Marchand for the last two games of the regular season. With him back, I think Boston makes up for getting swept by the Senators in the regular season and is able to win this series.

Prediction: Bruins in seven

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews in action against the New Jersey Devils. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

M1. Washington Capitals (55-19-8) vs. WC2. Toronto Maple Leafs (40-27-15)

Toronto has a very bright future with Auston Matthews, William Nylander, James van Riemsdyk, and Zach Hyman. However, I don’t think the Maple Leafs’ youth matches up well with the deep, veteran roster of Washington.

Prediction: Capitals in five

Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby looks on against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

M2. Pittsburgh Penguins (50-21-11) vs. M3. Columbus Blue Jackets (50-24-8)

A few weeks ago, I might’ve thought about Columbus winning this series and potentially the Eastern Conference. However, the Blue Jackets ended the regular season on a horrible note – losers of eight of their last 11 games. They match up well with Pittsburgh, but the Penguins are still the better team.

Prediction: Penguins in six

Western Conference

Nashville Predators defenseman Roman Josi scores a power play goal. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

C1. Chicago Blackhawks (50-23-9) vs. WC2. Nashville Predators (41-29-12)

Chicago has won three Stanley Cups in the last eight years, but past championships don’t necessarily equate to more championships every time that team makes the postseason again. Nashville will be a tough series for the Blackhawks. The Predators were competitive in every game with Chicago in the regular season. They also have one of the deepest teams in the league. Nashville has plenty of depth on the blue line and scoring, and also has one of the most underrated goaltenders in Pekka Rinne. It’s all about depth in the postseason, which is why I’m going with the upset.

Prediction: Predators in seven

Minnesota Wild forward Zach Parise against the Vancouver Canucks. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

C2. Minnesota Wild (49-25-8) vs. C3. St. Louis Blues (46-29-7)

I really like Minnesota and have enjoyed watching the Wild play the last few weeks. I wouldn’t mind seeing them win the Stanley Cup. However, St. Louis is probably the hottest team in the league right now. The Blues won 15 of their last 19 regular season games. They’ve also averaged giving up only 1.89 points per game during that stretch.

Prediction: Blues in seven

Calgary Flames center Sean Monahan during the face off against the Los Angeles Kings. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

P1. Anaheim Ducks (46-23-13) vs. WC1. Calgary Flames (45-33-4)

I don’t see an upset happening in this matchup. Calgary has really cooled off since its 10-game winning streak came to end back in the beginning of March – finishing with a record of 6-7 down the stretch. Anaheim has been the opposite. The Ducks are playing well recently and have looked like a team ready for the playoffs.

Prediction: Ducks in five

Edmonton Oilers forward Connor McDavid skates against the Los Angeles Kings. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

P2. Edmonton Oilers (47-26-9) vs. P3. San Jose Sharks (46-29-7)

Like Anaheim, Edmonton is one of the hottest teams entering the postseason – winners of 12 of its last 14 games. San Jose will be hungry to defend its Western Conference crown and try to get back to the Stanley Cup for a second-straight year, but the Sharks have suffered too many injuries recently. In their first postseason appearance since 2006, I like the Oilers to move on.

Prediction: Oilers in six

Second round:

Eastern Conference

Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron passes the puck during a game against the Philadelphia Flyers. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

A3. Boston Bruins vs. WC1. New York Rangers

The Rangers are probably the better team on paper, but a wild card team has never made it to the conference finals since the NHL adapted its new playoff format back in 2014. I think they struggle with not having home ice in another series. I’m biased as a Boston fan, but I like the Bruins to get to the Eastern Conference Finals.

Prediction: Bruins in six

Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin handles the puck against the Calgary Flames. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

M1. Washington Capitals vs. M2. Pittsburgh Penguins

I think these teams are probably the best teams in the league and this should be a very entertaining series. Washington is the favorite to win the Stanley Cup this year, but I’ve heard that before. The Capitals always seem to have the best team in the league, but they never make it past the second round. I don’t trust them at all – especially against the reigning Stanley Cup champions.

Prediction: Penguins in seven

Western Conference

St. Louis Blues right wing Vladimir Tarasenko handles the puck against the Calgary Flames. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

C3. St. Louis Blues vs. WC2. Nashville Predators

I think this is where Nashville’s run comes to an end. Like I said before, St. Louis is one of the hottest teams in the postseason. I think the Predators will struggle to keep up with the scoring of Vladimir Tarasenko, Jaden Schwartz, and Alex Pietrangelo.

Prediction: Blues in six

Anaheim Ducks goalie John Gibson defends the goal against the Chicago Blackhawks. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

P1. Anaheim Ducks vs. P2. Edmonton Oilers

These teams are about even. Both teams have great defenses and excellent goaltending – each has two goaltenders with a goals allowed average of under 2.4. Edmonton has the better offense though and I think Connor McDavid will be the difference maker.

Prediction: Oilers in seven

Conference championships:

Eastern Conference Finals

Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin takes the ice against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

A3. Boston Bruins vs. M2. Pittsburgh Penguins

Pittsburgh is by far the better team than Boston. The Penguins have the better roster and can score points quickly. They also have two great goaltenders with Matt Murray and Marc-Andre Fleury to keep opponents out of the net. I think the Bruins find a way to keep it competitive, but I expect Pittsburgh to win close games and return to the Stanley Cup for a second consecutive season.

Prediction: Penguins in five

Western Conference Finals

Edmonton Oilers goaltender Cam Talbot makes a save. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

C3. St. Louis Blues vs. P2. Edmonton Oilers

St. Louis is hot, but the Blues still aren’t as complete a team as Edmonton. The Oilers are the better overall team and have been just as hot as St. Louis in the last few weeks. I expect Connor McDavid to be the difference maker once again and he leads the Oilers to their eighth Stanley Cup appearance.

Prediction: Oilers in six

Stanley Cup Finals:

P2. Edmonton Oilers vs. M2. Pittsburgh Penguins

I’m sure that my readers know by now that I don’t like to pick teams to win back-to-back championships. I think Pittsburgh’s defense is good enough to get through the Eastern Conference, but I don’t think it’s good enough to beat Edmonton in a series, or even win the Stanley Cup. The Oilers are one of the league’s best teams offensively and defensively, and they have two solid goaltenders. I think Edmonton becomes the first Canadian-based team to win the Stanley Cup since 1993.

Prediction: Oilers in six
Conn Smythe award winner: Connor McDavid

Thanks for reading

Shane Price
Follow me on Twitter – @priceisright53

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