Eastern Conference Playoff Predictions

Here are my eastern conference predictions. I really hate taking all the favourites but aside from an outside chance of Montreal upsetting Carolina I just can’t see any of the other underdogs winning barring unexpected key injuries.

Just a note: The predictions are my predictions, not my algorithms. I am retiring the algorithm for the season as I don’t think it makes sense to use in the playoffs. I also likely won’t be making predictions on every game since it is really the series that matters. I may post some comments each day on the previous nights results and that nights games but it will depend on how busy I am with other stuff.

Ottawa vs Tampa

Season Series:
October 21: Ottawa 4 at Tampa 1
November 3: Tampa 2 at Ottawa 4
March 6: Ottawa 4 at Tampa 0
March 14: Tampa 3 at Ottawa 4

Ottawa swept the season series and that might be a good indication of what might happen in this playoff series. This is the dream match up for Ottawa as I think Montreal would have given them a much bigger challenge. For both teams the key to the series is goaltending. If Tampa wants any change of winning they need to have Grahame or Burke come up with a several excellent games. Unfortunately for Tampa that hasn’t happened with a whole lot of consistency this year. Grahame has 5 shut outs this year which shows he can be a good goalie but while he can shut out a team one night he can give up 6 goals the next. The key for Ottawa is getting good goaltending from Ray Emery. In March they got excellent goaltending from Emery but in April he was mostly horrible. He apparently has a bit of a hip injury that might be taking away some of this quickness so if I am Tampa I pepper him with as many shots as I can. That will be their only hope to win this series. Prediction: Ottawa in 5.

Carolina vs Montreal

Season Series:
December 31: Montreal 3 at Carolina 5
January 23: Montreal 3 at Carolina 7
January 31: Carolina 8 at Montreal 2
March 15: Carolina 5 at Montreal 1

This is one of those series which I think could definitely end up in an upset despite the fact that Carolina went completely nuts vs Montreal in the regular season out scoring the Canadiens by a 25-9 score in their 4 games. The first 3 of those games has the departed and struggling Jose Theodore in net and the last had David Aebischer. Huet has been the much better goalie and should be the Habs main goalie in the playoffs so that should help. Huet’s outstanding goaltending got the Canadiens into the playoffs and they will only go as far as Huet takes them in the playoffs. For the Hurricanes they key their success will be how Doug Weight and Mark Recchi play. These two guys were traded for to add some depth to the Hurricanes offense, particularly after Erik Cole went down, but they haven’t produced a whole lot up until now. These two veterans need to take some pressure off of Eric Staal to produce all the offense. If they can do that the Hurricanes could go deep into the playoffs. Prediction: Hurricanes in 7

New Jersey vs New York Rangers

Season Series:
October 8: NY Rangers 2 at New Jersey 3 (OT)
October 13: New Jersey 1 at NY Rangers 4
November 3: NY Rangers 4 at New Jersey 2
November 5: New Jersey 2 at NY Rangers 3 (OT)
December 20: New Jersey 3 at NY Rangers 1
January 22: New Jersey 1 at NY Rangers 3
March 4: NY Rangers 1 at New Jersey 2
April 9: NY Rangers 2 at New Jersey 3

This is the only battle amongst division rivals in the first round of the playoffs and it should be fun series to watch. Both teams have good goalies. Both teams have pretty good defences despite not having a bunch of big name players. And both teams have a top line that can score in bunches. In my mind the key to this series will be who can shut down the opposing teams top line the best. Can the Devils keep Jagr to no more than a point a game? Can the Rangers shut down the trio of Gionta, Gomez and Elias all of whom have been awesome in the push for the playoffs? Those are the keys to this series. Prediction: Devils in 6

Buffalo Sabres vs Philadelphia Flyers

Season Series:
December 19: Buffalo 2 at Philadelphia 1 (SO)
February 2: Philadelphia 2 at Buffalo 4
March 11: Buffalo 6 at Philadelphia 5
April 7: Philadelphia 4 at Buffalo 2

I really like Buffalo to win this series. I just think they are a better all round team and I think Buffalo’s speed will give the Flyers defence fits. The only concern one might have for the Sabres is goaltending. Generally Ryan Miller has had a very good rookie season but he struggled a bit in late March and early April. He picked his game up in his last 3 starts of the season so he should have his confidence back. If Miller can give they Sabres good goaltending Buffalo will be a very tough team to beat in the playoffs. There are two keys to the Flyers success. The first is Forsberg’s health. If Forsberg isn’t healthy and playing at his top level the Flyers will struggle to get the offence needed to win. The other key to the Flyers is goaltending. Of course this is nothing new as the Flyers haven’t had top quality goaltending for years and it has never been adequately addressed by GM Bobby Clarke. Goaltending is key in the NHL and if you don’t have it you won’t win and I just don’t think Esche and Niittymaki are good enough to take a team deep into the playoffs though anyone can get hot for a short period of time and win a series.. Prediciton: Buffalo in 6.

This article has 12 Comments

  1. Ottawa in 5
    Carolina in 6
    New Jersey in 6
    Buffalo in 6

    Ottawa should easily beat Tampa in my opinion. Carolina has a tough one against Montreal, whose number one goalie is Huet, not Aebischier. New Jersey is the hottest team in the NHL and is the only team who’s goalie has any previous playoff experience. Philadelphia has goaltending issues and can’t rely on just Esche and Niittymaki. Also, can Forsberg remain healthy? Buffalo hasn’t been hampered with injuries like many other teams this year.

  2. The team has fired Quinn and assistant coach Rick Ley, four days after the Maple Leafs were officially eliminated from the playoffs.

    The Maple Leafs concluded a disappointing 41-33-8 season, failing to qualify for the playoffs for the first time since Quinn took over in 1998-99.

    The news comes amid increasing reports that a front office power struggle was developing between general manager John Ferguson Jr. and Quinn.

    Quinn, 63, had another year remaining on his contract.

    No immediate replacement was named but former NHL coach Paul Maurice, who was hired by Ferguson to caoch the AHL Marlies this past season, is the most likely candidate to take over.

  3. It happens every year, someone who isn’t “supposed” to win always comes through. I’m curious to know who you guys think will be this years first round upset(s)?

    I’m going with the Ducks: I don’t think there is that much of an edge goaltending wise, JSG did the same thing Kipper did a few years back taking his team to game 7 in the Cup final. The Ducks forwards are just faster and more dynamic. Defence goes to the Flames but not by much. Experience goes to the Flames, however, I don’t see why the Ducks led by a certain someone on D can’t get this done.

    Good luck with your picks

  4. David

    Esche is the same goalie who took them to within one win of going to the finals 2 years ago—I would have to say that was deep into the playoffs.

  5. I think Carolina could get upset in the east and Detroit might in the west. If Edmonton gets some quality goaltending from Roloson (and he is certainly capable of that) the Oilers will be able to compete with the Red Wings and could pull an upset. Anaheim could ive Calgary a challenge but I am not sure they have the experienced forwards to pull the upset.

    Esche is not a good enough goalie and I don’t think the Flyers are as good a team as they were 2 years ago. Especially if Forsberg isn’t healthy.

  6. Colorado Avalanche to upset for me
    Dallas has 3 wins against Colorado’s 1 in the season series. That doesn’t matter. Note two of those wins were in shootouts, and all were fought without a true #1 goalie at the helm for the Avalanche. Perhaps no goalie in the past few years has been more apt to pick up the first round upset than Jose Theodore, who has stepped up his game since his trade to Denver.
    A very good chance for an upset, and will most likely be carried out if the Avalanche and Jose Theodore find room to steal a win in a hard-fought series. Avs in 7.

  7. The flyers defence is so so slow. Ya besides Hatcher and Rathje who’s slow?

    I don’t listen to people who say that crap, thats been what everyone saying all year but i doubt these people watch the games. Flyers will not lose this series because of being to slow.

  8. I don’t think the Ducks beating Calgary is much of an upset. Anaheim in my opinion is the second hottest team in the NHL, behind only New Jersey. I actually predicted them to win and I think that Calgary beating Anaheim would be more of an upset than the opposite.

    I agree with Sam in saying that the upset is Colorado over Dallas. Dallas won the season series 3-1, but 2 of those 3 wins were in the shootout, a luxury Dallas doesn’t have in the overtime. Dallas won more than their fair share of shootouts. They would’ve been the 6th seed and would’ve started the playoffs in San Jose if all of their shootout wins were one-point efforts. I think Colorado is the better team in all categories except goaltending, where Marty Turco clearly gives the Stars the edge.

  9. Montreal all the way. 1971–unknown Ken Drydn beats powehouse Boston in 7. !986 Rookie Patrick Roy. 2006 Huet.
    History is on their side.

  10. Ottawa in 6
    Montreal in 7
    New Jersey in 6
    Buffalo in 5


  11. HMMMMMMMMM………………..
    Looks like the flyers did lose cause they are slow and obvisouly if you knew anything about hockey the new changes in the NHL killed the flyers because now against fast and quick skating teams they have nothing!!!!!!!!

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