Tonight is the start of the NHL playoffs.
Before I get on to my series picks, I thought it would be fun to have some bold predictions.
So here are 10 slightly-off-the-wall predictions:
There will be at least three goaltending controversies
I figure there are five teams that could see fans start screaming for the backup: Vancouver, St. Louis, Philadelphia, Boston and Washington, and all for different reasons.
St. Louis, for example, has two number one goalies. So if one struggles and the Blues are down two games in a series, I could see fans yelling for the other goalie.
In Philly, I could see Ilya Bryzgalov pitching two shutouts in the first two games. I could also see him being pulled after allowing 11 goals on 45 shots.
In Vancouver, there’s already speculation about Cory Schneider getting some playing time.
Last year, there was a small bit of talk about Tukka Rask being the starter for game three after Boston lost the first two games on home ice to Montreal, even though it wasn’t Tim Thomas’ fault.
And in Washington, I don’t even know who the #1 goalie is.
The seeds are already planted for at least three of those teams will have a goalie controversy.
No player will get more than 30 points
I understand with so many superstars in the playoffs, most people think 30 points is easily available. I’m less sure.
With so many good goalies and defensive teams, goals will be harder to come back. You’ll see more third- and fourth-liners winning games than the top two lines. That means scoring will be more spread out, and less points for the top players.
There will be no sweeps in the first round
I think the Blues-Sharks has the best chance for one, but I think every team wins at least one game.
There will be at least one major upset (7 or 8 seed winning)
I’m looking at Washington for this one. But I could easily see Ottawa beating the Rangers. But I don’t think the top two seeds will lose in the western conference.
Ilya Kovalchuk will not score in the first round
I think the Devils advance, but I think he’ll be snakebitten for the first round for some odd reason.
One team will not score a powerplay goal in the first round
This goes back to my earlier point about the defensive teams being so strong this year. New Jersey’s penalty kill is dynamite, so I think they’ll be the ones to do it.
Roberto Luongo will have a game where he lets in at least seven goals
Okay, so this one isn’t so off the wall, as he seems to do it every year.
There will be two suspensions in the first round
Pittsburgh and Philly, I’m looking to you guys to help me out on this one.
Nick Backstrom will lead the league in points after round one
Last year, the leading point-getter was Michael Cammalleri. So while Crosby, Malkin, Giroux, Sedin, etc. may be the top picks by a lot of people, I expect Backstrom to get at least eight points.
There will be one four-overtime game
We haven’t had one in a while. Last year, there were hardly any double-OT games. I think we’re due.
As for my series predictions:
Rangers over Senators in six
Capitals over Bruins in seven (upset special!)
Devils over Panthers in five
Penguins over Flyers in six
Canucks over Kings in six
Blues over Sharks in five
Blackhawks over Coyotes in six
Red Wings over Predators in six