Colorado Avalanche Fan’s NHL Playoff Preview: April 16


Well, we have the first games of the first round in the books. In case you missed the action from last night’s games, there was the expected Montreal Canadiens win, the (to me) unexpected New York Islanders win. There was the Chicago Blackhawks teaching the Nashville Predators that playoff hockey ain’t over ’til it’s over and the Calgary Flames also surprised with a come from behind win…

More playoff action happening tonight. Let’s see what’s on tap.

Pittsburgh Penguins at New York Rangers

The Pittsburgh Penguins strike me as a tired team. I just don’t get urgency or hunger from them. They’re so talented, and they rely on that talent and seemingly nothing else. The New York Rangers are also very talented, but they’re hungry.

They can be a little tired, too. No one played more hockey than they did last season, except the LA Kings. Plus, there’s that whole losing in the Stanley Cup Finals embarrassment from last year.

Key to the Game: Who’s got more pep in their step? The Penguins are more stacked up front, but the Rangers have one super-talented goalie in Henrik Lundqvist.

Prediction: Rangers win 2-1

Detroit Red Wings at Tampa Bay Lightning

The storyline of this series, of course, is the onetime hero of Detroit, Steve Yzerman, is actually the GM for the Tampa Bay Lighting. Awkward.

That said, stats-wise the Wings and Bolts are pretty well matched. The Wings just have so much more playoff experience — they’ve been in the playoffs for 24 straight seasons.

Key to the Game: Bolts Steve Stamkos vs Wings Pavel Datsyuk. They’re both such talented players that can score that clutch goal for their team.

Prediction: It’ll be a close game, and one that might even go into overtime. But I predict the Lightning win 3-2.

Minnesota Wild at St. Louis Blues

More from Avalanche News

The St. Louis Blues have so much to prove. They’re beginning to get a reputation as a team that chokes in the playoffs. They shouldn’t — they are one stacked team. They’ve got some offensive dynamos up front. They’ve got the likes of Alex Pietrangelo and Kevin Shattenkirk on the blue line. They’ve got… ok, goal tending has ever been an issue for the Blues.

The Minnesota Wild are a small team that would like to be speedy and skilled. They’ve got talent in the likes of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. Unlike the Blues, they’ve also got a goalie that was hot enough to get them into the playoffs. However, Devan Dubnyk has ever been a mediocre goalie.

Key to the Game: Can the offensive firepower of the Blues make Swiss cheese of Dubnyk before some of the “skill players” on the Wild score? Probably.

Prediction: Blues win at home by two goals, perhaps 3-1.

Winnipeg Jets at Anaheim Ducks

I like the Jets, I really do. However, the only clear advantage the Jets have over the Ducks is they have a clear #1 goalie in Ondrej Pavelec. You can never tell if Pavelec is going to be a brick wall or pizza, though. He was strong in the penultimate game for the Avs, though he didn’t withstand the shootout.

I’ve said it before — the Anaeheim Ducks are machine-like in their precision. They, like the Blues, also have a lot to prove. I think they’re going to come out too strong for the Jets to withstand the pressure.

Key to the Game: The Ducks have a lot more to prove, especially after giving up a three-game series lead against the LA Kings last year. I think they’re going to come out too strong for the Jets to withstand the assault.

Prediction: Low scoring game that the Ducks win, probably 1-0.

Next: Former Avs Watch: Bob Hartley

More from Mile High Sticking