Hockey Independent Playoff Roundtable: 2013 First Round Predictions

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With the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs set to begin just a few hours from now, four members of the Hockey Independent writing staff have come together to predict each and every first round series of this year’s postseason. The contributing authors to today’s piece will be Cris Cohen (New York Rangers), Seth Levin (New Jersey Devils),  Bill Philp (Tampa Bay Lightning) and myself, Benjamin Woodward (Boston Bruins). Each writer has also included his/her series “X-Factor” for each match-up. In each case, the performance (or lack thereof) of the “X-Factor” could determine the outcome of the series. For a bit of added entertainment, we’ve also added our early Stanley Cup Finals predictions. Enjoy!

Eastern Conference

(8) New York Islanders vs. (1) Pittsburgh Penguins

Cohen– Penguins win in 5 . X-Factor –> Kris Letang

Levin– Penguins win in 6 . X-Factor –> Penguins’ grit and experience. This series will be tougher than expected.

Philp– Penguins win in 4 . X-Factor –> Sidney Crosby

Woodward– Penguins win in 7. X-Factor –> Evgeni Nabokov

(7) Ottawa Senators vs. (2) Montreal Canadiens

Cohen– Senators win in 6. X-Factor –> Carey Price

Levin– Senators win in 6 . X-Factor –> Erik Karlsson

Philp– Senators win in 7. X-Factor –> Erik Karlsson

Woodward– Senators win in 6. X-Factor –> Montreal’s Power-Play

(6) New York Rangers vs. (3) Washington Capitals

Cohen– Rangers win in 7. X-Factor –> Who has the edge on special teams?

Levin– Rangers win in 7 . X-Factor –> Brad Richards

Philp– Capitals win in 6. X-Factor –> Braden Holtby

Woodward– Capitals win in 7. X-Factor –> Things are clicking on all cylinders for Adam Oates’ crew.  Is this finally the year Washington gets over the hump?

(5) Toronto Maple Leafs vs. (4) Boston Bruins

Cohen–  Maple Leafs win in 7. X-Factor –> Leafs’ penalty-kill vs. Boston power-play

Levin– Bruins win in 5 . X-Factor –> Boston’s playoff experience

Philp– Bruins win in 5. X-Factor –> Tyler Seguin

Woodward– Bruins win in 7. X-Factor –> Match-up of Boston’s No. 2 defense pairing against Toronto’s explosive duo of Nazem Kadri and Joffrey Lupul.

Western Conference

(8) Minnesota Wild vs. (1) Chicago Blackhawks

Cohen–  Blackhawks win in 5. X-Factor –> Chicago’s depth

Levin– Blackhawks win in 5 . X-Factor –> Blackhawks’ depth and experience

Philp– Blackhawks win in 5. X-Factor –> Ray Emery

Woodward– Blackhawks win in 5. X-Factor –> Niklas Backstrom will need to steal a couple just to get this one past Game 5.

(7) Detroit Red Wings vs. (2) Anaheim Ducks

Cohen– Red Wings win in 7. X-Factor –> Johan Franzen

Levin– Red Wings win in 7 . X-Factor –> Jimmy Howard

Philp– Red Wings win in 6. X-Factor –> Jimmy Howard

Woodward– Ducks win in 5. X-Factor –> Anaheim is no longer a one-line team. While many are overlooking the Ducks, I don’t think this series will be close.

(6) San Jose Sharks vs. (3) Vancouver Canucks

Cohen– Canucks win in 7. X-Factor –> Derek Roy

Levin– Sharks win in 7 . X-Factor –> Goaltending match-up

Philp– Sharks win in 7. X-Factor –> Joe Thornton

Woodward– Canucks win in 6. X-Factor –> Can San Jose’s defense contain the Sedin twins?

(5) Los Angeles Kings vs. (4) St. Louis Blues

Cohen– Blues win in 6. X-Factor –> Which team gets consistent goaltending?

Levin– Kings win in 6 . X-Factor –> Los Angeles’ depth

Philp– Blues win in 6. X-Factor –> Brian Elliot

Woodward– Blues win in 7. X-Factor –> St. Louis’ physicality. The Blues may be hardest team in the league to play against right now.

Stanley Cup Finals

Cohen– Canucks Over Penguins - Conn Smythe Winner: Ryan Kesler

Levin– Bruins Over Blackhawks - Conn Smythe Winner: Tuukka Rask

Philp– Penguins Over Blues - Conn Smythe Winner: Evgeni Malkin

Woodward– Blues Over Capitals - Conn Smythe Winner: Alex Pietrangelo

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Filed Under: Anaheim DucksBoston BruinsChicago BlackhawksDetroit Red WingsEastern ConferenceFeaturedLos Angeles KingsMinnesota WildMontreal CanadiensNew Jersey DevilsNew York IslandersNew York RangersNHLNHL TeamsOttawa SenatorsPittsburgh PenguinsProspectsRumorsSan Jose SharksSatireSt. Louis BluesTampa Bay LightningToronto Maple LeafsVancouver CanucksWashington CapitalsWestern Conference

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About the Author: Boston Bruins writer for Hockey Independent. Contributor to the New England Hockey Journal. Have written for The Hockey Guys and SB Nation Boston. Follow me on Twitter @_BWoodward or shoot me an email at BWoodward.HI@gmail.com.

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