The first round of the NHL playoffs this year has come to a close and there was no shortage of surprises. I originally predicted that the Canucks would have a rematch with the Bruins in the Stanley Cup finals, but I changed that to a Canucks-Pens final just before the playoffs started. Well, neither one of those predictions can now come true, as all three teams have been eliminated. Perhaps I should have visited the Betfair website to find out what odds were being given before casting my predictions.
When the regular season ended, I took to Facebook and Twitter to post my predictions for the first round of the playoffs. Let’s have a look at how I did.
Vancouver over Los Angeles in 6
Actual Result: LAK in 5
This one blew up in my face. While I fully understood that the Kings were going to be a competitive lot and they’d present their fair share of challenges, I expected the Canucks to emerge as the victors. I expected guys like Ryan Kesler and Alex Burrows to step up their game, but that just didn’t happen. The absence of Daniel Sedin for the first three games certainly didn’t help, even though both Luongo and Schneider played well. From taking dumb penalties to not capitalizing on the power play, Vancouver just didn’t get the job done.
St. Louis over San Jose in 5
Actual Result: STL in 5
How about that? I got this prediction exactly right. San Jose has traditionally performed poorly in the playoffs and this year was no exception.
Chicago over Phoenix in 7
Actual Result: PHX in 6
While the Blackhawks are not the same calibre of team that won the Stanley Cup a couple of years ago, I thought they were still solid. I was wrong and the team that is still looking for a new home (and owner) is moving on to the next round.
Nashville over Detroit in 6
Actual Result: NSH in 5
The Red Wings are not the dominant force that they once were, whereas the Predators are now a force to be reckoned with. Pekka Rinne demonstrated why he is a Vezina nominee and the rest of the Preds proved that they belong.
New York Rangers over Ottawa in 5
Actual Result: NYR in 7
I gave the Sens one game in my prediction, almost as a pity game. Little did I know that they’d put up this much of a fight, coming right down to the bitter end of game seven.
Boston over Washington in 5
Actual Result: WAS in 7
The defending Stanley Cup champions faced off against the team that always fizzled in the playoffs. Who would have known that this would be the outcome? This really might be the year that the
cocky confident Ovechkin demonstrates that he can win in the post-season. It certainly helps that rookie goalie Braden Holtby is doing so well for the Caps too.
New Jersey over Florida in 6
Actual Result: NJD in 7
This took one game more than I thought, but the Devils came through.
Pittsburgh over Philadelphia in 6
Actual Result: PHI in 6
I figured that this series was going to be a barn burner. I even figured that it was going to be high-scoring, but I didn’t expect to see scores like 8-5, 8-4, and 10-3 in there. This was easily the most entertaining series of the first round, but while I correctly predicted the number of games, I didn’t pick the right pony.
Total Correct: Four out of Eight
These playoffs haven’t gone according to plan for most people. Many professional analysts and experts (me too) expected a gripping final with the Canucks and the Penguins, but that’s not going to happen. At the end, I emerged at no better than chance. When was the last time that the defending conference champions got knocked out in the first round?