NHL Playoffs Picks (Game One 4/12): Rangers Sens, Blues Sharks, Blackhawks Coyotes
NHL Playoffs Picks and Predictions for Game One, Thursday 4/12: Ottawa Senators at New York Rangers, San Jose Sharks at St. Louis Blues, Chicago Blackhawks at Phoenix Coyotes, Washington Capitals at Boston Bruins
The Ottawa Senators are about as cold as it gets entering the playoffs, though the New York Rangers have been struggling as well. Which team will show up in New York for Game One? It could all come down to Henrik Lundqvist. The Sharks will try to score against the Blues, but I expect the best defense in hockey to hold their own. I love the Phoenix Coyotes, but they may be overmatched against the Chicago Blackhawks. Can Alexander Ovechkin and the Caps take out the defending champs? The second day of the NHL playoffs may just be as exciting as the first.
Not the best first day of the playoffs, but it could have been worse. The Flyers scored four unanswered goals to capture game one, and I’m not even mad that the Pens blew it because of how exciting that game was. The Preds pulled one out against the Red Wings, while Roberto Luongo allowed a bunch of goals again, which is again okay because we always temper our bets when the Canucks start the bad goalie in their tandem. Perhaps day two will be better, though small bets led to only minor losses in day one. My big bets, as usual, will involve my Devils later in the week.
Ottawa Senators at New York Rangers (-175)
The Rangers are just better than the Senators, though the fact that both teams backed into the playoffs troubles me. Henrik Lundqvist is banged up, and didn’t instill much confidence in me after a shaky end to the season. He’s the big variable here, and after leading his team to the top seed in the conference I expect him to find a way in the playoffs, even if he is a little hurt.
The Senators defense is pretty unimpressive defensively, though Erik Karlsson is a monster offensively. The Sens have some scorers, but I don’t expect them to do all that well against the shot blockers of the Rangers. Mostly, I hope the Sens just fire enough shots into the Rags to bruise them up for round two.
I don’t think the Sens can compete with the Rangers on a talent-for-talent level. Given how poorly the Sens played to close the year, the Rangers’ home ice advantage, and the talent disparity I think the Rangers will win Game One and ultimately the series with relative ease.
Rangers 3 – Sens 1
San Jose Sharks at St. Louis Blues (-155)
I’ll be at Game One as I embark on a road trip through the country, and I’m excited for my first stop. The Blues are one of the most defensively sound teams since my championship Devils teams, which opens up a soft spot in my heart for this team of overachievers. Additionally, I’m a bit tired of the Sharks.
The streaky Sharks are currently on a winning streak while the Blues burnt out down the stretch. That certainly leaves the door open for the experienced, talented, hot Sharks. However, I trust the suffocating Blues to hold the Sharks in check and frustrate them into some mistakes.
Blues 3 – Sharks 2
Chicago Blackhawks at Phoenix Coyotes (-125)
The Coyotes are the second-hottest team in hockey right now after finishing the season on a five-game winning streak. Mike Smith was at the heart of that stretch and if he can stay hot the Coyotes will win.
The Blackhawks are the better team. They’re deeper, more talented offensively, and experienced in the playoffs. If you remember last year, this team awoke from a slumber to nearly come back from an impossible deficit against the eventual conference champs. They’re dangerous.
However, I can’t bet against Mike Smith right now. He’s simply playing too well. Goaltending wins playoff games.
Coyotes 3 – Blackhawks 0
Washington Capitals at Boston Bruins (-185)
The Caps are the Caps of old – the same Washington Capitals team that took the top spot in the Eastern Conference just a season ago. Mike Green is contributing offense from the point, Nicklas Backstrom is back and healthy again, and Alexander Ovechkin is playing better now that he has the rest of his toys in the playroom. Goaltending is this team’s weakness, but they’ve adjusted well of late.
The Bruins are the defending champs. They’re physical and will be able to shut down the league’s best scorers like Ovechkin. On home ice, I expect them to handle business, but I respect the Caps for the team they’ve become down the stretch. This is a scary game.
Bruins 4 – Caps 3
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