Now begins the very best part of hockey. For the next couple weeks, sixteen teams will go bonkers on each other for our amusement. And right now come our predictions on who will win each series.
This is Keith, a coin.
Unfortunately, Keith, a coin, was, um, unavailable at the time of predictions. He is day to day with a “I literally cannot find him” injury. In his place is Adrian, a coin. Adrian, a coin, is a 2000 Pennsylvania quarter with the Jamestown commemorative on him.
Note: I’m using the emojis established by Jamie Hersch. I understand that you don’t agree with some of the choices, that’s cool.
Peter: The Avs have made a ton of progress this season, mostly by accident, but this is the end of the road for them. Rinne, Subban, Forsberg, Carrie Underwood: The Preds will own this. Nashville in 6.
Ian: Getting into the playoffs will be emotionally good enough for Colorado, who went from dredges of the NHL to a postseason appearance in only one year. And while the Avalanche are a great story, they’ll just be the preamble to Nashville’s latest chapter. The Predators are on a mission to return to the Stanley Cup Finals. Plus, it’s hard for me to pick against a superstar like… Filip Forsberg. Uggggg. Nashville in 5.
Keith Adrian, a Coin: Nashville.
Peter: How buckwild is it that Bruce Cassidy might win the Jack Adams this season? The Bruins are a fearsome team, so I suspect this series will be close. It might ultimately come down to timely injuries inflicted by Brad Marchand on dirty hits that do not get punished. I’ll give the edge to the Leafs. Toronto in 6.
Ian: Boston has been one of the biggest surprises of the season, finishing second in possession and fourth in overall standings points. But Toronto is well coached and their star players are better than Boston’s. The Capitals beat Toronto last year in the first round, but Toronto was arguably the better team. If goaltending can get them by, the Leafs will be swirling to Round Two. Toronto in 6.
Keith Adrian, a Coin: Boston.
Peter: I think people are thinking this series will be closer than it will be. I don’t trust Flyers goaltending, and Andrew MacDonald is gonna play 20 minutes a night. Giroux will make it interesting, and Matt Murray’s mettle will be tested, but the Penguins are gonna get a bye. Pittsburgh in 6.
Ian: My upset special of the first round. The Flyers will beat the Penguins. Matt Murray has been suspect this season and I’m not sold on the the Penguins defense. Plus, Evgeni Malkin is probably still shook from Evgeny Kuznetsov talking Russian to him. With the parity in the NHL these days, I just don’t see the Penguins three-peating, no matter how amazing Sidney Crosby is. Philadelphia in 7.
Keith Adrian, a Coin: Philadelphia.
Peter: Is Marcus Johansson gonna play? I don’t care. As long as Taylor Hall (my Hart winner) doesn’t go supernova, and as long as Andrei Vasilevskiy doesn’t play like he did in the late season, I think the Bolts will squeak through, but please don’t take this to the bank. I guess Tampa in 6.
Ian: The Tampa Bay Lightning are elite from top to bottom while New Jersey features a backup goaltender in Keith Kinkaid who writes in 95 percent emoji. Tampa in 4.
Keith Adrian, a Coin: Tampa.
Peter: Ah yes, the first-round series that I won’t watch and don’t care about. Anaheim without Bruce Boudreau is unlikeable. The Sharks were forged by the hands of Vulcan specifically for to get deep into the playoffs before inevitably flaming out. Gimme San Jose in 6.
Ian: A mallard duck built a nest in the flowerbed at my house. There are nearly 10 eggs. This is a sign. There’s no way I’m picking against Corey Perry. Anaheim in 6.
Keith Adrian, a Coin: San Jose.
Peter: I love this series. The Wild are a weird team – not dominant in shot attempts but getting some real reliable shot quality. The Suter injury is gonna hurt them a lot (he’d be playing 25-plus minutes a night), but I think the Jets are a superior team either way. Matty Perreault for Conn Smythe. Winnipeg in 6.
Ian: I’m not sold on either of these teams’ goaltenders, but I am convinced by The Corsi. Minnesota finished the season with the second worst possession in the league, while the Jets were a top 10 team. Combined with Patrik Laine’s viking beard and their insanely loud home fans, the Jets are going to zoom into the second round. Winnipeg in 5.
Keith Adrian, a Coin: Minnesota.
Peter: It’ll come down to special teams (and, like always, goaltending). If Bob plays like he did against the Penguins last season, the Caps will take this in a walk. If not, the Caps will need to play very, very disciplined against Torts’ Blue Jackets to draw penalties. Then get the ouck puck to Ovi, obviously. Washington in 6.
Ian: Philipp Grubauer is arguably the hottest goaltender in the league. The Caps creativity and finishing ability on offense is just intoxicating when you think about it. There are so many reasons to pick Washington in this series, including the fact that they are so unlucky they are due for some good luck. But I just don’t believe in this iteration of the team. I think they will be undone by what plagued them below the surface all season long: a suspect team defense that gives up way too many high danger shots and a coach that doesn’t field the best possible roster (though picking Grubauer to start is a good first step). Plus, power-play goals are harder to come by in the postseason and if the Blue Jackets can stifle the Caps’ special teams, Washington will need to play good system hockey to move on. And I have some bad news. The Caps will be the third-worst possession team in the playoffs and the very worst from the Eastern Conference. I really hope I’m wrong, but hahahahaha Columbus in 6.
Keith Adrian, a Coin: Columbus.
Peter: The Vegas Golden Knights have had a fairy tale season, and now it ends. They’re a fun team to watch, but I think the Kings are a perfect matchup for them. Quick should stymie Karlsson’s shooting-percentage-driven scoring, and that might be all it takes. Los Angeles in 6.
Ian: The Vegas Golden Knights are one of the fastest teams in the league and capitalize quickly on other teams’ mistakes. The franchise’s first postseason round will go exactly the same as its inaugural regular season: unexplainably awesome. Vegas in 4.
Keith Adrian, a Coin: Vegas.
Okay, your turn. Share your picks below and lambast me, Ian, and not-Keith for our picks.
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