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!
(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.
(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
Filed Under: Anaheim Ducks • Boston Bruins • Chicago Blackhawks • Detroit Red Wings • Eastern Conference • Featured • Los Angeles Kings • Minnesota Wild • Montreal Canadiens • New Jersey Devils • New York Islanders • New York Rangers • NHL • NHL Teams • Ottawa Senators • Pittsburgh Penguins • Prospects • Rumors • San Jose Sharks • Satire • St. Louis Blues • Tampa Bay Lightning • Toronto Maple Leafs • Vancouver Canucks • Washington Capitals • Western Conference
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.