Anaheim Calling Staff Playoff Predictions- Conference Quarterfinals

Greg M. Cooper-US PRESSWIRE

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

It's finally here! Hockey's annual showdown to crown a Stanley Cup champion is upon us as arguably the greatest tournament in sports kicks off today!

So what does this mean? Time for the staff here at Anaheim Calling to put their analytical and predictive minds to the test to guess who will win each of the eight quarterfinals.

This year we're making a game out of it. 5 points for the correct winner, an extra 5 if you get the number of games right too. Who's got the best playoff mind at AC (or just has the dumbest luck)? We'll find out.

So without further ado, let's take a look at how we picked the Eastern Conference matchups to finish, with some quick, 140(ish)-character analysis from each of us.

Jen

SK

Robby

Daniel

Jer

Derek

Kristen

Chris

Kyle

1 Pittsburgh Penguins

vs.

8 New York Islanders

PIT in 6

PIT in 5

PIT in 6

PIT in 5

PIT in 4

PIT in 5

PIT in 6

PIT in 4

PIT in 6

2 Monteal Canadiens

vs.

7 Ottawa Senators

OTT in 5

MTL in 6

OTT in 6

MTL in 6

MTL in 7

OTT in 6

MTL in 5

OTT in 7

MTL in 5

3 Washington Capitals

vs.

6 New York Rangers

NYR in 6

NYR in 6

WSH in 5

WSH in 7

WSH in 6

WSH in 7

WSH in 6

WSH in 7

WSH in 6

4 Boston Bruins

vs.

5 Toronto Maple Leafs

BOS in 4

TOR in 7

BOS in 5

BOS in 6

BOS in 6

TOR in 7

TOR in 7

BOS in 5

BOS in 6

(1)Pittsburgh Penguins vs. (8)New York Islanders (Penguins lead season series 4-1-0)

The only unanimous choice for winner in the Eastern Conference. The New York Islanders' first playoff appearance in six years pairs them with the team who has not only occupied the top spot in the East for most of the season, but makes the odds of them winning their first playoff series in 20 years seem that much longer. It will only get harder too as Sidney Crosby may return to the Penguins' lineup at some point during the series.

-"Here's your prize...a first round loss to Pittsburgh!" - SK
-"Poor Islanders, worked so hard to finally get back in to the playoffs, only to be steamrolled in the first round." - Jer
-"Islanders give the Pens more than they expect. Nabokov keeps it close, but Iginla shines and Fleury holds up." - Robby
-"Boring pick, I know. With everyone healthy, the Penguins will outscore John Tavares 30-5. John Tavares will outscore the rest of his team 5-0." - Derek
-"Doesn't Iggy deserve it?" - Kristen
-"A city-wide manhunt occurs in Pittsburgh on Wednesday, looking for Jarome Iginla, who has forgotten that playoffs exist outside Calgary." - Kyle
-"Sid will score 4+ pts in at least one game. Nabokov will lose a puck race and give up an empty net goal. This is not 1993, Pens sweep." - Chris
-"I want this to be the upset special; NYI deserves a good playoffs. Just don't think the Islanders have the offense to make the Pens pay, unless Fleury collapses." - Daniel [Ed. Note: Entirely possible. See: last year's ECQF vs. Philadelphia - Kyle]
-"Sid's return sends Geno into a 'why aren't you paying attention to me' shame spiral." - Jen

(2)Montreal Canadiens vs. (7)Ottawa Senators (Tied season series 2-1-1)

Oh, Canada. Two teams entering the playoffs trending the wrong direction. Montreal, after shocking the league by getting off to a torrid start after such a dreadful last season (hmm... sounds familiar, no?), have crawled to the finish line, losing six of their last 10 games in regulation. Ottawa has dealt with arguably the most adversity in the league this season, being cursed hard by the injury bug, but the return of stalwart defensemen Erik Karlsson and Jared Cowan will likely give this team a huge boost.

-"Welcome back Erik Karlsson...but it's still not enough." - SK
-"Ottawa somehow advances, making the possibility that much closer of seeing a Ducks/Sens 2007 SCF reunion." - Jer
-"My upset special. Erik Karlsson keeps up his Wolverine gimmick and Craig Anderson keeps up his ridiculous play." - Robby
-"Erik Karlsson has four points in the three games he's played in since returning from injury. That's more than P.K. Subban will have in this series." - Derek
-"The guy who should win the Norris and his team will prevail." - Kristen
-"Maple Leafs fans, angry that their dreams of playing MTL in the 1st rd were spoiled, shank OTT goaltender Craig Anderson for ruining their fun." - Kyle
-"Both Ottawa and Montreal are kind of backing in, but the Sens will get a boost from Erik Karlsson's magical sub sock." - Chris
-"The hardest to predict. Ottawa's perseverance makes them a threat, and Montreal's rapid turnaround means they might be suspect. The series comes down to Subban and Ottawa's lack of Spezza." - Daniel
-"Hockey Gods want Erik Karlsson to see Matt Cooke - again." - Jen

(3)Washington Capitals vs. (6)New York Rangers (Rangers lead season series 2-1-0)

A month ago the Washington Capitals were a write-off, sure to miss the playoffs. Today they're the hottest team in the NHL, led by captain Alexander Ovechkin who seems to have rediscovered his mojo. The New York Rangers spent a ton of money in the offseason to bring in big-name Rick Nash, but their star-studded lineup struggled heavily and the Blueshirts had to battle to get into the big dance. Nash will be appearing in only his fifth career playoff game when the puck drops on this series Wednesday.

-"I still don't believe in you, Ovechkin." - SK
-"The Caps attempt to actually do something this post-season." - Jer
-"Ovie rolls and Torts finally gets shown the door." - Robby
-"A resurgent Alex Ovechkin will dominate. If not for Henrik Lundqvist, this series would be over by Game Five." - Derek
-"Ovie and the Caps have bought into Adam Oates' philosophy, and are heating up at the right time." - Kristen
-"Alex Ovechkin's play is currently as hot as his fiancé. I'm surprised the ice at Verizon Center hasn't melted." - Kyle
-"Brooks Laich and Henrik Lundqvist might be able to put an end to world hunger by simply locking eyes. #worthashot" - Chris
-"Another full series for Caps/Blueshirts. I want to say Rangers, but I'm an Ovie sympathizer. I think it could be a good year for the Caps." - Daniel
-"The second 'Great 8' hits a playoff slump. Torts punches Larry Brooks just because." - Jen

(4)Boston Bruins vs. (5)Toronto Maple Leafs (Bruins lead season series 3-1-0)

So the Maple Leafs didn't get their dream matchup with the Montreal Canadiens, but they did get another division rival and there will certainly be no love lost. The big-bad Bruins have had the Maple Leafs' number for a few years now, but Toronto fought hard and won a lot of big games to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2004. Yeah, that was before the previous lockout. Poor Brian Burke assembled the Leafs team that finally made it back and now he's going to get no credit.

-"Apparently miracles do happen." - SK
-"I'm really pulling for Toronto to make something happen with this rare playoff appearance, but I just don't think it's coming." - Jer
-"Boston rolls but Kadri and Kessel shine for the Leafs. Tim Thomas who?" - Robby
-"The Bruins backed their way into the playoffs, and Toronto has never been hungrier for postseason action. Joffrey Lupul will score in overtime of Game 7." - Derek
-"The Bruins are the obvious choice, but I smell an upset." - Kristen
-"Not knowing who to root for, Don Cherry's head explodes. Ron MacLean bursts into overjoyed sobs of freedom once he's unchained from the CBC studio desk." - Kyle
-"The "Thank you, Kessel" chants will get annoying because Boston is just as truculent as the Leafs but much more skilled." - Chris
-"Toronto will put up a fight, but the Bruins are too much from top to bottom." - Daniel
-"Leafs fold under city pressure. Toronto falls into sinkhole post series." - Jen

TO THE WESTERN CONFERENCE!

Jen

SK

Robby

Daniel

Jer

Derek

Kristen

Chris

Kyle

1 Chicago Blackhawks

vs.

8 Minnesota Wild

CHI in 5

CHI in 4

CHI in 5

CHI in 5

CHI in 5

CHI in 6

CHI in 4

CHI in 4

CHI in 4

2 Anaheim Ducks

vs.

7 Detroit Red Wings

ANA in 7

ANA in 5

ANA in 6

ANA in 6

ANA in 7

ANA in 7

ANA in 7

DET in 6

ANA in 7

3 Vancouver Canucks

vs.

6 San Jose Sharks

VAN in 6

VAN in 7

VAN in 7

VAN in 7

SJ in 6

SJ in 6

VAN in 5

SJ in 7

VAN in 7

4 St. Louis Blues

vs.

5 Los Angeles Kings

LA in 5

LA in 6

STL in 6

LA in 6

LA in 6

STL in 7

LA in 6

LA in 5

LA in 6

(1)Chicago Blackhawks vs. (8)Minnesota Wild (Blackhawks lead season series 2-0-1)

Another unanimous decision amongst our writers. Minnesota took the New York Rangers approach to this season: chuck a ton of money at free agents and hopefully do really well. Much like the Rangers, that plan failed completely and the Wild scraped into the playoffs by the skin of their teeth. Ryan Suter and Zach Parise, both making in excess of $100 million each on their identical contracts, will have to be key contributors if they want to avoid getting massacred by the NHL's best team.

-"Minnesota spent a lot of money on a first round playoff exit." - SK
-"Minny's $100 M men can't keep up with the Hawks. Minny gets one to stave off the sweep." - Robby
-"I can see Parise and Suter managing to steal a game or two from Chicago, but the Hawks are too deep for a thin Minnesota to take more than that." - Daniel
-"Two teams that Anaheim handled easily all season get to beat up on each other in the post. Blackhawks shouldn't have much difficulty here." - Jer
-"The Blackhawks will win the first three games, outscoring the Wild 100-0. They will fall asleep for Games 4 and 5, and wake up to wash the dishes in Game 6." - Derek
-"Get out the brooms, folks. Minny doesn't know what's coming." - Kristen
-"I wish I could go off the board here and say something interesting, but Minnesota just doesn't have a chance against Chicago." - Chris
-"Suter/Parise become world's most expensive broom. Columbus would have had a better shot." - Kyle
-"Parise & Suter aren't rich enough to overcome Captain Serious and his sidekick Kid Drunkass." - Jen

(2)Anaheim Ducks vs. (7)Detroit Red Wings (Red Wings lead season series 2-1-0)

The Anaheim Ducks have only played 19 seasons, but this will be the sixth time they have met the Detroit Red Wings in the playoffs. Currently, the score sits at 3-2 with the most recent encounter going all the way to the late stages of game seven before the Wings bested Anaheim in 2009. This time out, however, it's Anaheim who's the higher seed with home ice advantage. Likewise, these aren't your dad's Red Wings. Nick Lidstrom no longer patrols the blue line, and Darren Helm will likely miss the entire series with a back injury.

-"Just win, Anaheim, so sick of all that is Detroit." - SK
-"Hiller reminds everyone he's one of the best in the league and Bobby Ryan scores 4 in the series. Ducks win 2 in Detroit." - Robby
-"Ducks send Detroit packing to the East Coast to even up the all time playoff series numbers. All is once again right in the world." - Daniel
-"A series which ends in Anaheim showing Detroit the door out of our conference. Lots of dumb octopi because Wings fans are barbaric idiots." - Jer
-"Ryan Getzlaf, who has 16 points in 13 playoff games against these guys, will dominate. Sami Vatenen will score a game-changing goal in the second half of the series." - Derek
-"Nuff said." - Kristen
-"I will vomit before, during and after every game of this series. Bertuzzi rubs buyout salt in the wound and Teemu's career ends sadly in DET." - Chris
-"Has anyone ever noticed how incredibly triangular Pavel Datsyuk's head is? Look at this...
Datsyukilluminati_medium

... HOLY CRAP IT ALL MAKES SENSE NOW!" - Kyle
-"Going with gut feeling. Teemu ends series in OT." - Jen

(3)Vancouver Canucks vs. (6)San Jose Sharks (Sharks lead season series 3-0-0)

Let's face it, the Northwest Division will be remembered for being complete rubbish for its final four-ish seasons. The continually comical struggles of the Edmonton Oilers, the floundering of the Colorado Avalanche, and the rebuild-denying Calgary Flames made owning the division pretty much a cakewalk for the Vancouver Canucks, as did the late-season slide of the Wild. San Jose has been stellar at home, failing to earn a point in only two games this year. Grounds are set for a big upset and another city-destructing riot, here. (I am never going to let that go.)

-"Two teams that suck in the post season...can't wait to see who sucks more." - SK
-"San Jose goes to the limit, but Luongo ends up being the star. Kesler catches fire at the right time." - Robby
-"What do you do when two playoff underachievers meet in the first round? You wonder if Luongo can put up a good show for his inevitable buy out this summer. Maybe he can finally break through." - Daniel
-"The teams have a similar puck possession game, but San Jose has had Vancouver's number all season. This isn't likely to change." - Jer
-"The Sharks' power play will improve from where it was in the regular season and win them the series. Brent Burn's beard will win some battles along the boards." - Derek
-"A stanchion will be involved (see: 2011 WCF)." - Kristen
-"The Sharks streakiness makes this one tough to pick. I really hope Corey Schneider gives up 3+ goals in the first period of Game 1." - Chris
-"A super tough series, which is odd when you consider the Sedins, Ryan Kesler, and VAN fans' feelings will all be involved." - Kyle
-"Both teams are underachievers this year. It will come down to whose goalie sucks the least." - Jen

(4)St. L ouis Blues vs. (5)Los Angeles Kings (Kings lead season series 3-0-0)

The St. Louis Blues flew under the radar and struck hard in the final week of the season to claim the final home-ice advantage slot virtually out of nowhere. And it couldn't be sweeter because not only did they steal it out from under the noses of the Los Angeles Kings, but they get the chance to exact some revenge on them for their series last year, in which the Kings steamrolled the Blues 4-0. St. Louis deadline acquisition Jay Bouwmeester will be playing his first career playoff game in his 10th season. The Kings however have not lost to the Blues in what is now eight straight games, dating back to February 3, 2012, a 1-0 Blues win.

-"I'd really rather St. Louis make the Kings sing the Blues...but I doubt that'll happen." - SK
-"I picked the Ducks/Blues in the WCF and I'm sticking to it. Quick scuffles and Brown gets suspended again." - Robby
-"This one will be bloody. Kopitar and Carter will be too much even for a solid Blues defense. L.A. is just too much." - Daniel
-"St Louis will be looking for some revenge for last year's sweep. They'll give LA a slightly harder go this time, but in the end can't do it." - Jer
-"Andy McDonald will lead all players in scoring, and Drew Doughty will be on the ice for an overtime goal against. Jonathan Quick will be pulled in at least one game." - Derek
-"LA wins the series, but it won't be as easy as it was last year." - Kristen
-"LA has the best chance to repeat since DET ‘09. STL has a chip on their shoulder but Brian Elliott will be Brian Elliott (not in a good way)." - Chris
-"Who's staring the office pool for amount of time before Doughty starts whining about how dirty a team STL is? I give it 8 mins." - Kyle
-"Ugh. Kings are becoming scary good again. Watch out for Brown's uncontrollable elbow!" - Jen

Let the battle for Lord Stanley's Cup begin!

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