Jason O. Watson-US PRESSWIRE
The Stanley Cup playoffs begin tonight, and the Boston Bruins look to defend their rights to the Cup and be the first team since the 1997-1998 Detroit Red Wings to win back to back titles.
No team has been able to accomplish that since the lockout, and the East and West both lay claim to three titles since no trophy was awarded for the 2005 season.
Here are my predictions for the 2012 Stanly Cup first round – they aren’t necessarily going to be who should win, but more of who I want to win. Good luck to the teams involved.
New York Rangers vs Ottawa Senators
With the Buffalo Sabres out of the running, I am going to go with my New York roots here and take the Rangers. I have been to games in three NHL arenas, Memorial Auditorium, First Niagara Center, and MSG – so my heart goes out to the Rangers on this one. If they can keep it up they should have no problems dispatching with the Ottawa Senators. Another strike against the Sens – they are a division rival, so my first vote goes to the Rangers. I am a big fan of the first round sweep; but I think the Rangers are going to need five games to rid us of the Ottawa Senators.
Boston Bruins vs. Washington Capitals
While Boston has the better chance here because of the Washington goaltender situation, my hope is that Washington gets to play the first round cinderella team. It is doubtful, but again – this is who I want to win more than who I think. While Boston should be able to easily play through the Caps in five games, My vote here is for the Caps in seven. Washington fell to Montreal two seasons ago in a similar fashion.
Florida Panthers vs. New Jersey Devils
For any reason other than their fans have gone through such a drought of playoffs, I am pulling for the Florida Panthers in this series. Not a huge fan of either team, heres to hoping that fans in Florida get to enjoy a little bit of playoff success, just in case they go in drought mode again after this season.
Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Philadelphia Flyers
No beating around the bush here, I will be rooting for Sidney Crosby and the Pens in this one, simply for the fact that I can’t stand the Flyers.
Vancouver Canucks vs Los Angeles Kings
My money is going to be on the Kings to upset the President trophy winning Canucks. The quicker the Canucks get bounced out of the playoffs, the less I have to worry about them winning a championship before the Buffalo Sabres.
St. Louis Blues vs San Jose Sharks
A second favorite team of mine, will be hoping for the St. Louis Blues to pull off this series, and given the past results of the Sharks in the post season, could be a safe bet.
Phoenix Coyotes vs. Chicago Blackhawks
Several weeks ago we had the OptionIt guys on Rinkside Rants and they both picked the Blackhawks as their favorite team in the post season. It should be noted they are both from Chicago. Looking for Chicago in this series, because its bad enough the ‘yotes will be raising a divisional banner in a city that hasn’t earned it next season.
Nashville Predators vs. Detroit Red Wings
Looking at Detroit in this series, for the simple fact that I don’t need to see another southern city expansion franchise win the Stanley Cup before the Buffalo Sabres.
Thats my wish list for the first round. Tune in to Rink Side Rants tomorrow night at 10PM to hear more playoff predictions!