2015 NHL Playoff Predictions


First off, I have to start off with a solemn note. Ottawa Assistant Coach Mark Reeds passed away today at the age of 55 of cancer. From all accounts, he was a great man, coach, and father, and he will be sorely missed within the Senators and hockey community. Rest in peace, Mark.

It’s finally here, folks. Playoff hockey starts tomorrow, and Ottawa fans can actually be a part of it. The Senators playoff run happened so fast, so the playoffs seem like they came quickly, which might be better than having to wait an eternity for it like the Canadiens. Around this time people like to give their playoff predictions, and so do I. It’s a yearly tradition and some years I’m actually quite spot on, but others (like last year) I miss on about half.

This year seems harder than ever to predict, as there are no true standouts from either conference. Nevertheless, I’m up for the challenge. Here are my predictions for the first round:


New York Rangers vs. Pittsburgh Penguins: Rangers in 5

This one was the easiest for me, as I just don’t see how the Penguins can get by the Rangers at this stage. Pittsburgh was rolling with five defenseman because of their injuries and they had no cap space to call anybody up. Luckily it looks like Christian Ehrhoff might be good to go, but still they will sorely miss Kris Letang. The Rangers have a solid blueline, and lots of options up front to score.

Meanwhile, the Penguins (partially due to injury) have little depth besides Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby. Also, I can never trust Marc-Andre Fleury in the playoffs. It’s an easy decision to go with the President’s Trophy winners.

Montreal Canadiens vs. Ottawa Senators: Senators in 6

Call me a homer, whatever. Ottawa has had Montreal’s number, and I really do think they are in there head. Carey Price has never played very well against the Senators, and I don’t think he can just steal the series. Montreal’s forward group is uninspiring, especially if they’re missing Max Pacioretty. Ottawa has a quite balanced attack, and I would expect the battles between the bottom sixes to be quite one-sided for Ottawa.

The Senators are coming in with tons of energy and motivation, and they can continue their inexplicable run. Not to mention they are now winning for the late Mark Reeds (and Bryan Murray) who tragically passed away this morning.

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Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Detroit Red Wings: Lightning in 7

I like this Lightning team a lot. Much like the Blues, they have so much depth up front, and are probably the most lethal in the league. 11 players hit the 30 point mark, and Valtteri Filppula is their third line centre. Steven Stamkos isn’t even on their best line either. They also gave up the 3rd least amount of shot attempts per 60 minutes, so their defense corps with Victor Hedman and Anton Stralman is very solid too.

Perhaps I’m giving Detroit too much credit by predicting a 7 game series, but the Red Wings still have a solid roster with lots of young talent. However, I can’t see them getting by the powerhouse Bolts.

Washington Capitals vs. New York Islanders: Capitals in 7

This is a total toss-up, and I haven’t seen anyone definitively go one way or the other. I like the Islanders lineup, but I think in the end the difference makers will be Alex Ovechkin, Braden Holtby, and John Carlson. Ovechkin has never been great in the playoffs, but if he can keep his fantastic season going, I think along with the shut-down ability of Carlson and Holtby the Capitals will win a very close series.


Anaheim Ducks vs. Winnipeg Jets: Jets in 6

This is an interesting matchup, because most places I look I see that people are taking the Jets over the Ducks just like me. The Jets play extremely well defensively, and I think their physicality will be a big strength over this Anaheim team. I’m never sure what to think of the Ducks, but they do have good players.

In the end, I think whichever goalie doesn’t implode will win. Ondrej Pavelec is not a good goalie, but he has played well this year. There’s a difference between those two, because he could implode any minute. On the other side, Frederik Andersen hasn’t been as good, but if he falters they hope John Gibson can provide some magic like last year. My gut just tells me it’s Winnipeg’s time for a bit of a run.

Apr 11, 2015; Winnipeg, Manitoba, CAN; Winnipeg Jets forward Mark Scheifele (55) celebrates after defeating the Calgary Flames with Jets goalie Michael Hutchinson (34) and forward Drew Stafford (12) after the third period at MTS Centre. Winnipeg wins 5-1. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports

St. Louis Blues vs. Minnesota Wild: Blues in 7

This has to be the Blues year finally right? They have been a great team for a few years now, but they always face tough opponents. This year is no different, as the Wild have some great players, including a forward group to die for. I’m not crazy about their blueline, but Devan Dubnyk has played lights out for them for months now.

However, the Blues have depth everywhere you look. They have nine players who scored 44+ points, and it will be hard to shut down all four lines and three pairings. That said, they haven’t had much success in the playoffs, and it will come down to if Jake Allen can play adequate enough. I think he can, and St. Louis is poised for a run.

Nashville Predators vs. Chicago Blackhawks: Blackhawks in 5

I just do not like this matchup for Nashville. Usually it’s St. Louis being the unfortunate team playing Chicago, but now it is the Predators. After a blazing start, the Preds fell back a bit, and Pekka Rinne has as well. On the other side, Corey Crawford quietly put up a .924 save percentage, and now they have Patrick Kane back (even if he did come back too early).

It’s too hard to ever count out the Blackhawks, and I think their depth on offense is just too much. The Predators have one of the best blue lines in the league, but I think Chicago’s offense will be too overpowering. If the Blackhawks can shut down Filip Forsberg, then a heck of a lot of their offense is gone.

The Flames are this years version of the 2013-14 Colorado Avalanche

Vancouver Canucks vs. Calgary Flames: Canucks in 7

The Canucks are a very average team, yet they could have a potentially easy route to go deep in the playoffs. The Flames are this years version of the 2013-14 Colorado Avalanche in that their underlying numbers suggest that they are a bad team, yet somehow they get the job done. I’m still not convinced they are a good team (despite some good pieces), and they can’t go far without Mark Giordano.

Having said that, they still have some unexplainable magic left in them, so I expect this series to come down to the wire. Slight edge to Vancouver.

So there are my first round picks, although I did fill out an NHL.com bracket, which predicts everything. Of course, if one series is wrong then I will have to revise my picks for the second round. But here is the rest of my bracket, which has the St. Louis Blues defeating the Tampa Bay Lightning in the finals:

I hope you fill out your playoff brackets, they are fun (and depressing sometimes) to look back on!

What do you think of these predictions? Will I fall flat on my face with these picks? Let me know.

Next: Pageau's Ready For Montreal, Questions About Goaltending