AROUND THE NHL
Brian Duff makes his Stanley Cup Playoff predictions
Wednesday, 04.11.2012 / 11:27 AM ET / News
By Brian Duff - Sabres TV Host (@duffersabres)
I know that I waited until the last possible minute, but I have finally succumbed to the pressure and am ready to deliver on my predictions for this year's Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Rangers vs Senators
In Ottawa's 11th game of the season, they found themselves down 4-1 to the Rangers at MSG with less than 12 minutes to go. The Sens prevailed in a shootout 5-4. I was in the minority at the start of the year believing Ottawa would absolutely contend for a playoff spot, and definitely see this as a series having huge potential for an upset.
Pick: Rangers in 7
Bruins vs Capitals
The Caps won when they had to down the stretch, including a snoozefest at the Garden in a shootout en route to three wins in four in the season series. But even with a healthy Nicklas Backstrom, I can't see the Bruins failing in round one.
Pick: Bruins in 5
Panthers vs Devils
This series will be a lot more entertaining than some are expecting. Both teams, and both coaches, have a lot to prove. The season series proved that no lead is safe and I think overtime will be a common occurrence.
Pick: Devils in 6
Penguins vs Flyers
When they met in consecutive playoffs in 2008 and 2009 it was great. Now it's at a whole new level. So much star power, so much depth, and so much hatred (in a sporting kind of way). Goaltending and depth at all positions are the biggest keys.
Pick: Penguins in 7
Canucks vs Kings
When they met in the spring of 2010, goaltending was a big issue - for both teams! That may not be entirely fair but lets just say the goalies weren't the best penalty killers out there. Six games produced 43 goals. Six games this year might produce 18. If Jonathan Quick can allow seven or less in the series, it could get real interesting.
Pick: Canucks in 6
Blues vs Sharks
Blue collar heroes. That's what this series will be all about. Expect physical intensity so common that you might not even realize how "heavy" these guys are playing shift after shift.
Pick: Blues in 7
Coyotes vs Blackhawks
At the end of the day, the return of Jonathan Toews is important for the Hawks but I don't believe it's critical. Chicago has enough skill to win this series, so long as they have the will to match it.
Pick: Blackhawks in 7
Predators vs Red Wings
For me, the toughest series to pick. Almost impossible to even think of picking against Datsyuk, Lidstrom, Zetterberg, et al this early. Hard not to believe that Nashville finally has enough depth to push a little deeper.
Pick: Predators in 7
Round two winners: Devils, Penguins, Blackhawks, Predators
Conference Finals winners: Penguins, Predators
Stanley Cup champions: Penguins