If last season is any indication, it’s good to be the favorite.
The Chicago Blackhawks capped off an historic, lockout-shortened season by satisfying the prognosticators heading into the NHL playoffs by hoisting the Stanley Cup in Boston last June. The year before that, however, the Los Angeles Kings shocked everybody as an eight seed. In 2011, the Bruins made haste of the popular theory that they shouldn’t even be on the same ice as the Vancouver Canucks.
Predicting what will happen in the NHL postseason is Fool’s Gold.
This year, the Bruins are the overwhelming darlings to beat the Red Wings in the opening round (Game 1, Friday, 7:30 p.m.) of the playoffs which begin Wednesday with Canadiens-Lightning, Blue Jackets-Penguins, and Stars-Ducks.
Here’s the outlook for the Black and Gold against Detroit and beyond:
Chad Finn, Boston.com staff: Bruins in six. “President’s Trophy winner takes big first step toward winning the only trophy that matters.”
Steve Silva, Boston.com staff: Bruins in five. “Because everyone else likes them in 6, and Tuukka will rise to the occassion.”
Zuri Berry, Boston.com staff: Bruins in seven. “There’s something about the Red Wings style of play that just gives the Bruins a rough time. But no need to lose faith so early in the NHL’s best team.”
Gary Dzen, Boston.com staff: Bruins in five. “Boston’s tuned-up defense will suffocate Detroit from the start.”
Adam Kaufman, Boston.com columnist: Bruins in seven. “It won’t be nearly as dramatic as last year’s survival of the Maple Leafs, but the Red Wings will prove far from a pushover.”
Jeff Pini, Boston.com correspondent: Bruins in six. “Jimmy Howard may steal a couple games, but the Red Wings’ youth is their fatal flaw.”
Bill Speros, Boston.com contributor: Bruins in six. “Bruins will wear them down. These aren’t your older brother’s Red Wings.”
Ted Kulfan, The Detroit News: Bruins in six.
Brian Cazeneuve, SI.com: Bruins
Kevin Weekes, Jamie McLennan, NHL Network: Bruins to win the Cup.
USA Today staff: Four out of six pick the Bruins to win the Stanley Cup.
ESPN staff: Bruins across the board vs. the Wings. Five of the 12 say it will go seven games; the other seven predict six.
Mick Colageo, SouthCoast Today: Red Wings in seven. “Speed and savvy will exploit Dennis Seidenberg’s absence.”
Sean Gentille, Sporting News: Bruins in five (His dartboard says Detroit). “Boston has a Vezina candidate in Tuukka Rask. They have five 20-goal scorers. They have a Norris candidate in Zdeno Chara. They have the great Patrice Bergeron. They also are, far and away, the East’s best team at 5-on-5. The best way of measuring that is by tracking the percentage of unblocked shot attempts a team takes when the game is within one goal in the first and second periods, and tied in the third. That’s known as Fenwick Close. Boston’s percentage is 54.1, which is fourth overall and tops in the East. At 5-on-5, they score 62.3 of all goals, No. 1 in the league. In short, they’re fantastic, and will be a tough out for anyone.”
Michael Blinn, SI.com Home Ice: Bruins in six. “Detroit and its crew of talented forwards have been a thorn in Boston’s side all season. But the Wings’ frantic stretch run – coupled with the fact that the Bruins were able to give their star players some nights off toward the end of the regular season – will catch up to them. Howard is capable of stealing a game or two, but it won’t be enough to fend off a rough-and-ready Boston team that is built for the playoffs. Round 1 will be good experience for Detroit’s emerging stars, but expect the Bruins to wear the kids down and, eventually, out.”
Scott Cullen, TSN: Bruins in six. “The Bruins are the better team and have been playoff battle-tested, so they aren’t going to be surprised by what the Red Wings can offer as resistance. If the game gets physical, it’s an overwhelming advantage for Boston and, with better possession stats and better goaltending, something will have to really go awry for the Bruins to get overtaken by Detroit. At the same time, if the Red Wings can keep the series focused on speed and puck possession, that would likely play more favourably.”
Boston Globe staff: Fluto Shinzawa, Amalie Benjamin, and Kevin Paul Dupont all pick the Bruins in six, and have them as eventual Stanley Cup champions. Jim Hoban picks the Red Wings in seven and has Anaheim hoisting the Cup.
Pro Hockey Talk.com staff: Five out of six pick the Bruins, two in seven, two in six, and one in five games.
CBS Sports.com staff: Dennis Dodd (six games), Chris Peters (five), and Brian Stubits (seven) all pick the Bruins.
Greg Wyshynski, Yahoo! sports Puck Daddy: Bruins and San Jose Sharks to meet in the Stanley Cup final.
EA Sports NHL ’14 simulation: Bruins beat the Sharks in six games in the final. “After their dramatic Eastern Conference Final series win, the Boston Bruins controlled the Stanley Cup Finals ending the match-up in six games in San Jose. Joe Thornton and Logan Couture were the top two in playoff points, but it wasn’t enough as the Bruins’ size and skill punished the Sharks into submission. Boston’s David Krejci was once again a playoff stud, leading the Bruins with 21 points.”
It says here: Bruins in six. Detroit’s youth and speed will give the Bruins fits, but Boston is too deep, too experienced, and too focused to gag in the first round.