2013-14 NHL Playoff & Award Predictions
Now that I’ve predicted all of the divisions, (Atlantic, Metropolitan, Central and Pacific) let’s get down to the predicting the playoffs and the award winners. If you like (or don’t like) my predictions, leave comments below or follow me on Twitter @DanMountSports. Remember, there is a new format to the playoffs with the top three in each division guaranteed a playoff spot while two others get in based on points. Let’s start in the East in the Atlantic Division
(WC2) Toronto vs. (1) Boston: The Leafs squeak in and play the Bruins in a rematch of an epic seven-game series from last year. The B’s won’t let it get that far and will as they will take care of business. Prediction: Bruins in 5.
(3) Montreal vs. (2) Detroit: The new divisions bring an old-time, Original Six feel. Carey Price and the Canadiens were eliminated after being the #2 team in the East last year. However, the Red Wings have reloaded and are ready for a run. Prediction: Red Wings in 6.
(WC1) Ottawa vs. (1) Pittsburgh: Still lots of questions about the Pens defense and goaltending. Those are two traits that the Senators have. However, I think there’s too much firepower on Pittsburgh as they proved it in the second round last season. Nothing will change. Prediction: Penguins in 5.
(3) Washington vs. (2) New York Rangers: Haven’t we seen this matchup before? Alex Ovechkin is desperate to make a deep run into the playoffs, but Henrik Lundqvist has stopped him at every turn. I love the Rangers defense and will have a little more offense under new coach Alain Vigneault’s new system. Prediction: Rangers in 7.
(WC2) Dallas vs. (1) Chicago: The Stars are a team on the upswing after getting Tyler Seguin in the offseason. They’ll be weary from the stress of a playoff race, while Chicago will have already clinched a playoff spot. There are too many weapons for the defending champions. Prediction: Blackhawks in 5.
(3) Minnesota vs. (2) St. Louis: These are two teams that like to play defense and are physical. The Blues are the trendy pick to take down the Haws. I think St. Louis will make a move to get a scorer they need by trading one of the three goalies they have. The Wild still need Nik Backstrom to play like an elite goalie if they want to spring the upset. Prediction: Blues in 6.
(WC1) Phoenix vs. (1) Los Angeles: The Coyotes have good offensive defensemen Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Keith Yandle that could give the Kings a problem, but I like Jonathan Quick just a little better than Mike Smith. Prediction: Kings in 6.
(3) San Jose vs. (2) Anaheim: This is the last go-around for Teemu Selanne. The Ducks will get scoring out of Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf. I like Antii Niemi just a little more than Jonas Hiller. Logan Couture will cement himself as the team’s unquestioned leader with a big-time goal. Prediction: Sharks in 7.
(2) Detroit vs. (1) Boston: Jimmy Howard is often maligned for letting in the occasional soft goal or two, but this season will be a breakthrough one for the Wings netminder. The Bruins are no strangers to tough playoff battles and are many people’s favorites to get back to the finals. However, I see something in this Detroit team that’s going to carry them to the upset. Prediction: Red Wings in 7.
(2) New York Rangers vs. (1) Pittsburgh: I flip-flopped on picking a winner in this one. I liked the Pens at first because of the scoring of Crosby, Malkin and Neal. However, I almost went with the Rangers because of Lundqvist and their solid D. Notice I said almost. Pittsburgh gets just enough out of Marc-Andre Fleury (or whomever is starting) to win the series. Prediction: Penguins in 7.
(2) St. Louis vs. (1) Chicago: Some people think the Blues have just enough defense to frustrate the Blackhawks. I think Corey Crawford outduels Brian Elliot and gives the champs what they need in the pipes, while Patrick Kane scores timely goals. Prediction: Blackhawks in 6.
(3) San Jose vs. (1) Los Angeles: These teams played an awesome seven-gamer last season. The best part is they don’t like each other so expect some rough play. The Kings have deep in the playoffs and that experience gets them over the top. Prediction: Kings in 6.
Detroit vs. Pittsburgh: This is the sexy matchup that the TV executives want, and it will live up to the hype after a slow start because of the physical play of the last series for each team. This is the series where the lack of defense will catch up with Pittsburgh. The young defense of the Wings will step up in this spot. Prediction: Red Wings in 7.
Los Angeles vs. Chicago: This is another series that casual fans will enjoy as it’s a rematch of last year’s Western final. The teams are pretty much evenly matched, but I like the Blackhawk’s scoring just a bit more. Prediction: Blackhawks in 6.
Stanley Cup Finals
Detroit vs. Chicago: Screw the realignment. We’re going to have the old-school rivalry, but this time with everything on the line. These two teams know each other and it’s going to be a fun series. Daniel Alfredsson wants his name on the Cup, but I like Chicago to repeat with Patrick Sharp winning the Conn Smythe (playoff MVP) Prediction: Blackhawks in 6.
Here are some award predictions
President’s Trophy (highest points in regular season): Boston Bruins
Hart (MVP): C, Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh. He and teammate Evgeni Malkin will vie for this all year.
Vezina (Best goalie): Henrik Lundqvist, N.Y. Rangers. He’ll keep the Rangers close to the Pens all year.
Norris (top defenseman): Ryan Suter, Minnesota. He should’ve won last year over PK Subban.
Adams (coach of the year): Lindy Ruff, Dallas. He’ll get the Stars near or into the playoffs.
Calder (top rookie): D, Seth Jones, Nashville. I was going to say Jonathan Drouin, but he got sent to juniors. Jones will prove the people that passed on him wrong.
Art Ross (top point scorer): Crosby.
Richard (top goal scorer: C, Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay. Best goal-scorer in the game.
Selke (best defensive forward): C, Jonathan Toews, Chicago. He’s the glue that holds the champs together.
Lady Byng (gentlemanly play): RW, Martin St.Louis, Tampa Bay. He’s one of the nicest guys, period.
Those are my predictions for this season. All I can say is let’s drop the puck. I’ll be live-tweeting certain games, so stay tuned. I’ll try to give some notice as to when I’m doing so.
Dan Mount is an NHL and college football writer for TJRSports.com. He is based out of Watertown, NY.