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TLN Predicts The First Round

The Leafs don’t play until tomorrow, but the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs will begin later today. With that in mind, eleven members of our staff have collaborated to bring you our predictions for the first round of the playoffs.

The West

Writer CHI/NSH MIN/STL ANA/CGY EDM/SJ
Ryan Fancey NSH in 7 MIN in 5 CGY in 6 SJ in 4
Jessica Pincente NSH in 7 MIN in 7 ANA in 6 SJ in 6
Adam Laskaris NSH in 4 MIN in 7 ANA in 6 SJ in 6
Dylan Fremlin NSH in 7 MIN in 6 CGY in 7 EDM in 7
Cam Lewis CHI in 6 STL in 7 ANA in 5 EDM in 6
Even Presement NSH in 6 MIN in 6 ANA in 7 SJ in 5
Ian Tulloch CHI in 7 MIN in 5 CGY in 6 SJ in 6
Bobby Cappucino NSH in 7 MIN in 6 ANA in 6 SJ in 7
Ryan Hobart CHI in 5 MIN in 4 CGY in 7 SJ in 6
Jeff Veillette NSH in 7 MIN in 6 ANA in 5 EDM in 7
Dom Luszczyszyn NSH in 6 MIN in 6 ANA in 6 SJ in 5

We were unable to come to a unanimous consensus for any of the Western series. But as far as our most popular picks here, we’ve got Nashville in 7, Minnesota in 6, Anaheim in 6, and San Jose in 6. Clearly, we feel the battles in this conference are close (and also that in Minnesota’s case, we believe a bit in the team but are still skeptics of a Boudreau playoff bonanza).

The East

Writer MTL/NYR OTT/BOS PIT/CBJ WSH/TOR
Ryan Fancey MTL in 5 BOS in 6 PIT in 5 WSH in 6
Jessica Pincente MTL in 7 BOS in 5 PIT in 7 WSH in 6
Adam Laskaris MTL in 6 BOS in 5 PIT in 6 WSH in 6
Dylan Fremlin MTL in 6 BOS in 5 PIT in 6 WSH in 6
Cam Lewis MTL in 6 BOS in 6 PIT in 7 WSH in 5
Even Presement MTL in 7 BOS in 5 PIT in 6 WSH in 5
Ian Tulloch MTL in 6 BOS in 5 PIT in 7 WSH in 6
Bobby Cappucino MTL in 6 BOS in 5 PIT in 6 WSH in 6
Ryan Hobart MTL in 7 BOS in 4 PIT in 5 WSH in 5
Jeff Veillette MTL in 6 BOS in 5 PIT in 6 WSH in 6
Dom Luszczyszyn MTL in 5 BOS in 6 PIT in 6 WSH in 5

On the other hand, we’re unanimous entirely in the East. As far as games go, we’re thinking Montreal in 6, Boston in 5, Pittsburgh in 6, and Washington in 6. Six games seems to be the go-to for “we don’t think this will be an embarrassment, but we see a clear-cut winner”. The Senators, on the other hand, have earned no sympathy from us, going into the playoffs with negative shot and goal differentials, effectively showing up solely on a few great Craig Anderson games and some lucky distribution of goals.

The Only Series That Matters

Our staff also explained the rationale behind their Leafs / Capitals predictions.

Ryan Fancey (Caps in 6): Babcock should have this team really well-prepared for the opener, and I think the Leafs could probably get up early in this series, maybe 1-0 and/or 2-1, but then get rolled.

Jessica Pincente (Caps in 6): Multiple matchups between the Leafs and Caps from this season prove that the series will be a lot closer than we think. The Leafs will NEED to bring their A-game, though, if they have any chance of winning this series.

Adam Laskaris (Caps in 6): I think the series will be a close one, for no other reason than the Leafs have shown they’re a team capable of fighting right to the end. The Capitals are quite clearly the best team in the NHL with tonnes of depth right up and down the lineup and one of the league’s best goalies. That said, the Leafs are no slouch either, they’re carrying a surprisingly deep offensive lineup and have a bunch of young guns roaring to go in the playoffs. Put it this way: most models have the Leafs hovering between 30-40% of making it through this series. Josh Donaldson in his MVP season in 2015 got on base 37% of the time. Anyway, the point I’m trying to make is if it was the bottom of the ninth and all you needed was those odds, you’d take it every time. Why not take a 1-in-3 chance for a seven game series?

Dylan Fremlin (Caps in 6): Well, I think it’s safe to say the odds are stacked quite heavily against the Leafs in this one. They were one point away from playing, for my money, the worst team to qualify for the playoffs this year, but instead they drew the best team in the league. I think their offence is strong enough to get them a win or two, but the only way I really envision them having a chance is if Frederik Andersen goes full Halak on the Caps. The unfortunate part is the Caps even have the better goaltenders, both in terms of the starters and the backups. It’s hard to find a hole in this Capitals team. John Carlson is their third best RHD, for goodness sake. Both the Leafs and Capitals are deadly on the power play and pretty good on the kill, but the Capitals had one of the worst penalty differentials in the league during the regular season. Maybe if the Leafs can stay disciplined *cough* Polak *cough* they could give the Capitals a run for their money, but I have the Capitals winning this one.

Cam Lewis (Caps in 5): The Battle of Ontario would have been fun.

Evan Presement (Caps in 5): If a Leafs fan tells you they’re not terrified about playing the Caps, they’re 100% lying to you. Toronto is a massive underdog in this series, and it’s safe to say that just a few wins against an absolutely stacked Capitals team would feel like a small victory. In a way, it feels like the Raptors/Cavaliers series from last year’s NBA playoffs. I will say this, though: there are a few things going in Toronto’s favour. For one, the Capitals are a team that’s associated with choking in the playoffs, which never hurts. Second, Toronto is that team that nobody REALLY wants to play. They’re immensely skilled and have absolutely nothing to lose – all the pressure’s on Washington. I don’t expect Toronto to get swept, but anything past game 5 is a win in my eyes.

Ian Tulloch (Caps in 6): I think the Leafs will give the Capitals a lot more trouble than most people are expecting, but still end up going out in the first round.

Bobby Cappucino (Caps in 6): “the Leafs are going to learn what playoff hockey is like in a hurry” – bobby cappucino

Ryan Hobart (Caps in 5): Washington was my favourite to win the Cup and the fact that the Leafs are the ones they face in the first round doesn’t change that. The Leafs just don’t have the defensive quality (on F or D) to hold off the high-powered Capitals offence.

Dom Luszczyszyn (Caps in 5): I feel nauseous.

I’ll have more detail on how I feel about this series in a separate post later in the day.

  • MartinPolak

    This is a terrible story. Probably the worst ever. Fire everyone and get some new writers whomever is in charge. This to me sounds like the results a bunch of habs fans would predict. I can’t believe that not even one person believes that toronto is #actuallygood or have at least a bit of faith in the leafs. What a let down after months of good content.

    • lukewarmwater

      Martin I too question the utterly pro Habpredictions as the Habs against the top 6 teams in the league this year got a paltry 7 out of a possible 24 points. Let us not forget the Rangers also had a similar point total as the Habs but had to play Columbus, Pittsburgh and Washington far more often. But shame on you Martin that you don’t realise that they are using models to make their predictions.

  • lukewarmwater

    I thought that Evan made the best comments regarding the leafs. We don’t have the physicality of Washington and certainly the mental aspect of the game similar to as Evan suggested with the Raptors basically knowing they wouldn’t beat the Cavaliers must be similar to a young leaf squad. The playoffs are a whole new ball game as the intensity increases ten fold. The leafs will learn from this playoff series. I will say an often talented Capital team hasn’t learned after years of how to get past the second round.

  • Stan Smith

    In regards to the Caps/Leafs series I have seen lots of talk about Offence (Caps slight advantage due to experience), Goaltending (advantage Caps) and Defence (huge advantage Caps), but no one is talking about Coaches. Trotz has never been past the 2nd round. Babcock has been the Cup finals 3 times and has a ring. If the Leafs win one game in Washington I think the advantage the Caps have disappears pretty quickly.

    • Stan Smith

      I also want to add that I find it interesting that 8 out of 11 writers think that Anaheim will win with the “worst” coach in hockey behind the bench. Last, I am going to laugh so hard when the Sens knock the Bruins off.

      • The Russian Rocket

        I’d love to see the Sens knock the Bruins off but it won’t happen. The Bruins offense and goaltending is much better. The defense is a toss up with all the injuries on both sides.