2014-15 nhl playoffs preview: round two

“This year’s playoff teams are super close so predicting who’s going to win seems absolutely foolish, so let’s do it anyways.” – me, before round one.

I was pretty right about that. It was almost the only thing I was right about. The first round is done and my picks went terribly! Somewhat worse than a coinflip at 3-5. I’ll find a way to pick up the pieces and live somehow.

Despite what happened in the first round, I think the second round should be easier to call. Here’s what I think goes down.

The East

New York Rangers vs. Washington Capitals

The Lowdown

Why New York Wins: More awesomeness from Hank and the Rangers keep the Capitals to the the perimeter, something they are very good at.

Why Washington Wins: Their goalie isn’t too bad either and they have the talent to go toe-to-toe with the Presidents’ Trophy winners. More star-power too.

Why New York Won’t: They didn’t look all that great against the Penguins and Washington actually has their top defencemen healthy.

Why Washington Won’t: Ovechkin is a huge choker and can’t win hockey games in May, or so I’ve heard.

The Odds

Hard to discount the chances of the Regular Season Champs, but Washington has the slight edge here thanks to stronger puck possession and a lethal powerplay.

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The Numbers

These two teams were neck-and-neck for most of the year, but Washington had the full season edge and was the better team at the end.
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The Call

Washington Capitals in 7. I don’t think I’ll regret this one.


 

Montreal Canadiens vs. Tampa Bay Lightning

The Lowdown

Why Montreal Wins: Their goalie is better.

Why Tampa Bay Wins: Their team is better.

Why Montreal Won’t: Their team is worse.

Why Tampa Bay Won’t: Their goalie is worse.

The Odds

Things look bleak for the Habs here. My model thinks Tampa Bay is the best team in the league and doesn’t think much of the Habs chances.

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The Numbers

Basically, Montreal has never been the better team this season. At any point. Over any 25 game stretch.

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The Call

Tampa Bay Lightning in 6, only because Carey Price steals a couple.


 

The West

Anaheim Ducks vs. Calgary Flames

The Lowdown

Why Anaheim Wins: Made short work of a Jets team that is better than these Flames. Possession numbers are up and they’re arguably more talented.

Why Calgary Wins: Hard work and confidence and magic? I’m not sure how they do it, but I’ll be shocked if they do.

Why Anaheim Won’t: ???

Why Calgary Won’t: They literally never have the puck?

The Odds

Just as lopsided as Tampa Bay vs. Montreal.

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The Numbers

Anaheim is better, plain and simple, but the gap was smaller to end the season. We should also know by now that the numbers don’t apply to these Flames.

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The Call

Anaheim Ducks in 5, which means the Flames actually win this one in 6.


 

Chicago Blackhawks vs. Minnesota Wild

The Lowdown

Why Chicago Wins: Because they’ve beat the Wild the past two seasons in the playoffs and they know how to win. Better possession play could be the edge here.

Why Minnesota Wins: The past two times Minnesota played Chicago they didn’t have the depth to match the Hawks. This year they do and that’s why this one will be a lot closer than the other series and why they might even win it.

Why Chicago Won’t: “When Chicago has won in the playoffs, it was because of defence. This year they’ve been just average in that regard. That might be the difference.” That’s what I wrote before round one, and that didn’t change against Nashville.

Why Minnesota Won’t: “Do we really think Dubnyk can keep this up much longer? That and the team has sunk a bit possession wise lately.” That’s what I wrote before round one, and that ddn’t change against St. Louis.

The Odds

2012-13: Chicago 90% chance

2013-14: Chicago 77% chance

2014-15: Chicago 52% chance

The Wild have managed to close the gap significantly against the Blackhawks to the point where it’s almost a coinflip.

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The Numbers

Full season, the two teams converged to almost dead-even. But the Wild’s recent rise should give the Blackhawks some concern.

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The Call

Chicago Blackhawks in 7

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