Like I said in the final 10 thread, the teams were pretty much locked, but there was some jockeying for position and one team flip in the West (ARI out, COL in).
Some positioning changes, NYI had the M1 seed, now M2 and play PIT instead of CAR. Not sure I feel they did themselves any damage, PIT is obviously skilled but they are old team trending down, and CAR (a bunch of jerks) is young and full of energy.
Anything can happen in hockey, 1 seeds lose, 2 seeds lose, it happens. So my predictions are not something I'd wager on per se, but just my feeling about the series and how they'll go.
A1: TBL vs WC2: CBJ 4/10 IMO this is not a cake walk for the Lightning. Yes, they're the best team in hockey and one of the best teams in a long time, but CBJ went all-in. Not just with their acquisitions, but by the players they kept knowing there was a very low chance of keeping them (Panarin and Bobrovsky to name a couple).
Prediction: TB wins, but closer than some people think
A2: BOS vs A3: TOR 4/11 my favorite series of the 1st round, and this is why IMO the NHL changed the playoff format. they want these matchups "guaranteed" and they want them early. I love Boston to win this matchup, TOR has been coasting for a while (and they shouldn't have been) I don't love the TOR D and I don't love Andersen in the playoffs. BOS has the best line in hockey (if they keep them together) with Bergeron centering Marchand and Pastrnak. Their 2nd line is like many teams 1st line with Krejci, deBrusk and probably Heinen. He could shuffle things up, but Bergeron, Marchand and Pastrnak tallied 30 pts in the 7 game series vs TOR last year. I wouldn't mess with it. Toronto's fowards might even be deeper - and Boston has David Backes in their 4th line - but man that D could be exposed.
Prediction: BOS, in 6 or 7 in a great series
M1: WAS vs WC1: CAR 4/11
I like that CAR made the playoffs a year early (they just had the #2 pick in the last draft), but WAS should handle them. In the end this will provide the canes some good experience for their young team.
Prediction: WAS in 5.
M2: NYI vs M3: PIT 4/10
In a matchup of the last two stanley cup winning coaches, I think the Islanders actually helped themselves playing PIT instead of CAR, CAR is a team that I don't think anyone likes to play - highest shot total in the league. But IMO PIT with their aging skill is still a bad matchup for NYI who rely on timely scoring, solid D and stingy goal-tending, PIT PP IMO makes the difference. If the Islanders can stay out of the box, they can win this series, but it's the playoffs, and the spotlight will be on the officiating and they'll call it tight, benefiting the Pens.
Prediction: PIT in 5 or 6
P1: CAL vs WC2: COL 4/11
The Flames are one of the most unheralded 1 seed I can remember. I think it's because a) they're in mountain time and b) their goalie situation is tenuous. But they have such a solid team on O and D I hope they get a long run and people get to see players like Gaudreau, Giordano, Monahan, etc. tough team in all facets. I said above the bruins have the best line in hockey, but Colorado's top line of MacKinnon, Rantanen and Landeskog isn't far behind. If Rantanen can return from injury. However, the Flames should roll.
Prediction: CAL in 5
P2: SJS vs P3: LVG 4/10
LVG team this year is MUCH better IMO, but they don't play quite the same style. SJS is everyone's pick every year to win the cup, they have probably the best D in the playoffs.
So they're mine to win this series.
Prediction: SJS in 5/6
C1: NSH vs WC1: DAL 4/10
Dallas owner publicly ripped his team - mostly stars Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn - Preds owner should have ripped his team. The Stars responded from mired in futility to make the playoffs, and they are my upset pick.
Prediction: Stars in 7
C2: WIN vs C3: STL 4/10
Love this series. Laine, Connor, Wheeler, Scheifele, Trouba, Ehlers, big Byfuglien - WIN has a star studded roster. The Blues are not bereft of talent either with Tarasenko, two-way prototype center Ryan O'Reilly (my favorite Oz character), Schenn, 19-year old Robert Thomas ans good D plus phenom goalie Jordan Binnington - yes he's a 25 year old rookie, but he's a rookie and he led the league in GAA.
Prediction, going with the HTA: Jets in 6.
Even though my team isn't in it, I'm looking forward to the playoffs. I hope the Bruins get knocked out early (doubt it), otherwise don't care who wins.