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2013-14 NHL Playoff Predictions, Part I

September 30, 2013

Here are some 2013-14 NHL playoff predictions based on where teams stand entering the season. There are sure to be injuries, but for the sake of these predictions, every team was considered as if it had a completely healthy roster for the entire season.

Eastern Conference

No. 1 Pittsburgh Penguins Versus No. 8 New York Islanders

This would be a rematch of an opening-round 2012-13 playoff series. The Penguins have a better roster in almost every respect. There might be a few who think Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury chokes during the postseason, but that did not stop the Penguins from beating the Islanders last season.

Winner: Penguins  

No. 2 Detroit Red Wings Versus No. 7 Ottawa Senators

During their first season in the Eastern Conference, the Red Wings should make the playoffs. With the Senators getting Bobby Ryan, they could give the Red Wings a run for their money.

Winner: Red Wings

No. 3 Boston Bruins Versus No. 6 Montreal Canadiens

If these original six archrivals were to meet during the 2013-14 postseason, it would be a physical and hard-fought series. In the end, the Bruins would probably get the better of the Canadiens because of goaltending. Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask could prove to be one of the best in the NHL this season.

Winner: Bruins

No. 4 New York Rangers versus No. 5 Washington Capitals

No postseason would be complete without a Capitals-Rangers matchup, right? The Rangers might have some growing pains with their new head coach, while the Capitals are entering their second season under Adam Oates' control.

Winner: Capitals

Western Conference

No. 1 Chicago Blackhawks Versus No. 8 Nashville Predators

The Blackhawks retained much of their Stanley Cup-winning roster. Although the Predators have a lot of things to look forward to, if they were to get the Blackhawks as their first playoff matchup, they might not have anything to look forward to after that. 

Winner: Blackhawks

No. 2 Los Angeles Kings Versus No. 7 Anaheim Ducks

The Kings may be the strongest team in the Pacific Division, but the Ducks pose a few matchup problems. The Ducks need goaltender Jonas Hiller to step up in order to have a shot at making a postseason run.

Winner: Kings 

No. 3 St. Louis Blues Versus No. 6 Minnesota Wild

The Blues have one of the best goalie tandems in the league with Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott. But the Wild have been getting progressively better and more offensive, and they could come away with this series.

Winner: Wild

No. 4 San Jose Sharks Versus No. 5 Vancouver Canucks

The Sharks are the choke artists of the Western Conference, but the Canucks are no stranger to choking accusations either. Nonetheless, Canucks coach John Tortorella's system could work well if Vancouver makes it to the playoffs.

Winner: Canucks

Check back later to see predictions for the next round of the playoffs, based on the winners above.