Every year I look at the sixteen teams that are in the Stanley Cup playoffs and try to pick the winners.
I use a process of elimination. Single line teams or teams with suspect goaltending can be eliminated rather easily. This usually winnows the two conferences down to two or three teams. Then the fun starts.
So, here is my analysis by conference.
Starting with the Eastern Conference. We can expect that the Penguins, Red Wings and Islanders will be eliminated rather easily in the first round. None of these teams have the goaltending and balanced scoring that are required to make a long playoff run. That has Tampa Bay, the Rangers and Washington advancing to the second round. The Montreal and Ottawa series is interesting. The Canadians should advance, but I wouldn't put anything past Hammond. The Senators may be this years Cinderella team.
In the second round, I expect the Rangers to advance against the Capitals. The Tampa Bay and Montreal match up is a toss up. That would put the Rangers against either the Lightning or the Canadians. I expect the Rangers to advance to the Cup Finals from the East. They have the goaltending and experience to advance.
Now, for the Western Conference. The West is very strong this year. I am picking St. Louis, Nashville, Winnipeg and Calgary to advance out of the first round. The deciding criteria are, once again, goaltending, balanced scoring and experience. I have Nashville and Winnipeg advancing to the Conference Finals and Nashville advancing to the Cup Finals from the West.
That would give us the New York Rangers against the Nashville Predators in the Stanley Cup finals and I expect the Ranger's experience to prevail.
You can laugh at my predictions over the next two months.