Hey all! While we in the keystone province lament our second April without a playoff appearance by shining up our golf clubs and working on our swing, sixteen fortunate teams will vie for their chance to win this year's Stanley Cup trophy.
A lockout abbreviated season left many scrambling -- or in some cases stumbling -- towards the finish line, and though there are a few clear-cut favourites, it's anyone's guess who will emerge as Stanley Cup represenative for either conference.
Luckily for you, the vast unknown of the playoff landscape wasn't enough to deter your local experts from submitting their second annual round-by-round-previews. So with that, stick around for the Quarterfinal round picks of Trevor, Derek, Ryan, Tim, Dan, Graham, Phil, Ben, Garret and a 25 cent Canadian quarter.
Feel free to belittle our projections and praise the the awesomeness that is Canadian currency.
Chicago Blackhawks (1) vs. Minnesota Wild (8)
Chicago won the season series 2-0-1.
Why Chicago will win: Owners of the NHL's longest point streak of twenty-four straight games, it's always easy to consider a team boasting the NHL's best record a first round lock. Though success has been up-and-down with recent President's Trophy winners, Chicago seems to have the depth and goaltending necessary to thwart a Wild team who backed their way into the playoffs.
Why Minnesota will win: Make no mistake, Minnesota has a treacherous hill to climb in the first round. They trail the Blackhawks in every important team statistic save the power play, which will need to operate at high efficiency to give the Wild a shot. If Niklas Backstrom can steal games, Minnesota will have a shot.
Trevor's pick: Chicago in 6.
Derek's pick: Chicago in 4.
Ryan's pick: Chicago in 5.
Tim's pick: Chicago in 5.
Dan's pick: Chicago in 6.
Graham's pick: Chicago in 5.
Phil's pick: Chicago in 4.
Ben's pick: Chicago in 5.
Garret's pick: Chicago in 4.
2012 25 cent Canadian quarter picks: Chicago Blackhawks.
Anaheim Ducks (2) vs. Detroit Red Wings (7)
Detroit won the season series 2-1-0.
Why Anaheim will win: Bruce Boudreau has pulled up stakes and taking his riverboat gambling tour west, implementing his run-and-gun style with the Anaheim Ducks. Ryan Getzlaf seems to have bounced back after a sub-par 2011-12 season and the tandem of Viktor Fasth and Jonas Hiller have backed the team to a thirty win season. Anaheim has been amongst the NHL's upper echelon in both power play and penalty kill statistics and possess six players who have scored ten goals or more. Much like Chicago, their scoring depth and goaltending will be key factors in the series.
Why Detroit will win: Putting it bluntly, Anaheim is a horrendous puck possession team, while Detroit owns some of the NHL's best Fenwick Close numbers. Though they are aging, the trio of Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and Johan Franzen are still capable of leading this squad to victory.
Trevor's pick: Detroit in 7.
Derek's pick: Anaheim in 5.
Ryan's pick: Detroit in 6.
Tim's pick: Detroit in 6.
Dan's pick: Anaheim in 6.
Graham's pick: Detroit in 5.
Phil's pick: Detroit in 7.
Ben's pick: Detroit in 7.
Garret's pick: Detroit in 6.
2012 25 cent Canadian quarter picks: Anaheim Ducks.
Vancouver Canucks (3) vs. San Jose Sharks (6)
San Jose won the season series 3-0-0.
Why Vancouver will win: The dynamic duo of Henrik Sedin and Daniel Sedin highlight a Canucks team that finished below the norm in goals per game this season. That being said, their roster is still chock full of names that were a part of their 2011 Stanley Cup Final run and they could be poised for another one this year. Not to mention that in a jam, they still possess one of the NHL's elite netminding tandems.
Why San Jose will win: The Sharks feel as though Vancouver was the best first round match-up they could draw and after sweeping the regular season series, they have good reason to believe in themselves. San Jose is yet another possession team (similar to Detroit) and ranked second in blocked shots this season. San Jose has the potential to frustrate the Canucks, which is a huge bonus against a team who's mental fortitude has been questioned in the past.
Trevor's pick: San Jose in 6.
Derek's pick: Vancouver in 7.
Ryan's pick: Vancouver in 6.
Tim's pick: Vancouver in 6.
Dan's pick: Vancouver in 6.
Graham's pick: Vancouver in 7.
Phil's pick: Vancouver in 6.
Ben's pick: San Jose in 7.
Garret's pick: Vancouver in 5.
2012 25 cent Canadian quarter picks: San Jose Sharks.
St. Louis Blues (4) vs. Los Angeles Kings (5)
Los Angeles won the season series 3-0-0.
Why St. Louis will win: Ken Hitchcock hockey is back with a vengeance this season and after a slow start, the Blues finished with a 7-3-0 record in their last ten to secure home ice in round one. Despite not having the superstar talent of other Western Conference foes, the Blues scoring by committee has gotten the job done. The addition of Jay Bouwmeester has improved a blue-line that was short one premium top-four defenceman. Goaltending has been a concern as both Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott have faltered at times, posting Ondrej Pavelec-like numbers. Whoever gets the start will need to be on in this series.
Why Los Angeles will win: The reigning Stanley Cup Champions have woken from their hangover and are beginning to kick ass and take names. Still one of the NHL's elite in puck possession, they pose huge match-up problems for an overwhelmed St. Louis team. Jonathan Quick is having a down year of his own, so this series is far from a slam-dunk for the Kings.
Trevor's pick: Los Angeles in 6.
Derek's pick: Los Angeles in 6.
Ryan's pick: Los Angeles in 7.
Tim's pick: Los Angeles in 7.
Dan's pick: St. Louis in 7.
Graham's pick: St. Louis in 6.
Phil's pick: St. Louis in 7.
Ben's pick: Los Angeles in 6.
Garret's pick: Los Angeles in 7.
2012 25 cent Canadian quarter picks: St. Louis Blues.
Pittsburgh Penguins (1) vs. New York Islanders (8)
Pittsburgh won the season series 4-1-0.
Why Pittsburgh will win: Sidney Crosby. Evgeni Malkin. James Neal. Jarome Iginla. Kris Letang. Hell, even Chris Kunitz. The Penguins are primed up for a Stanley Cup run and are loaded to the hilt. Buckle up, Eastern Conference.
Why New York will win: Jonathan Tavares continues to be the NHL's best player you know little about and Matt Moulson is still scoring at a frenetic pace. Under head coach Jack Capuano, the Isles up-tempo play has them ranked top-five in take-away's this season. With the speed of players like Frans Nielsen and Michael Grabner, postseason cream-puff Marc-André Fleury will have to be on his game.
Trevor's pick: Pittsburgh in 6.
Derek's pick: Pittsburgh in 4.
Ryan's pick: Pittsburgh in 6.
Tim's pick: Pittsburgh in 6.
Dan's pick: Pittsburgh in 5.
Graham's pick: Pittsburgh in 6.
Phil's pick: Pittsburgh in 5.
Ben's pick: Pittsburgh in 7.
Garret's pick: Pittsburgh in 6.
2012 25 cent Canadian quarter picks: Pittsburgh Penguins.
Montreal Canadiens (2) vs. Ottawa Senators (7)
Season series tied 2-0-2.
Why Montreal will win: The Canadiens have a knack for shooting... and shooting... and shooting. Lars Eller, Brendan Gallagher and Alex Galchenyuk have materialized as three of the NHL's brightest young stars and they will be counted on to take advantage of lesser competition in this series.
Why Ottawa will win: Unfortunately for Montreal, the Senators shoot more and register more shots per game than they do. Craig Anderson also leads all goalies in SV% and was one game away from upsetting New York last season. And now that Eric Karlsson is back in the line-up, Ottawa has become markedly better. Don't sleep on the Sens.
Trevor's pick: Ottawa in 6.
Derek's pick: Ottawa in 7.
Ryan's pick: Montreal in 6.
Tim's pick: Ottawa in 6.
Dan's pick: Montreal in 6.
Graham's pick: Ottawa in 5.
Phil's pick: Ottawa in 6.
Ben's pick: Montreal in 7.
Garret's pick: Montreal in 6.
2012 25 cent Canadian quarter picks: Ottawa Senators.
Washington Capitals (3) vs. New York Rangers (6)
New York won the season series 2-1-0.
Why Washington will win: When your team is lights out on the power play, your opponent is one of the NHL's lesser offensive teams and Alex Ovechkin is playing like he did four years ago, things are looking pretty good for the Capitals. To add insult to injury, the Rangers have a sub .300 winning percentage when trailing after one.
Why New York will win: It's well documented that Washington isn't a good puck possession team. Last year, the Rangers bested these Caps in game seven of the semi-finals and their recipe of winning 2-1 games is a staple come playoff time. Plus, when Henrik Lundqvist is your goalie, you likely have a distinct advantage in net.
Trevor's pick: Washington in 7.
Derek's pick: New York in 5.
Ryan's pick: New York in 7.
Tim's pick: New York in 7.
Dan's pick: New York in 7.
Graham's pick: New York in 4.
Phil's pick: New York in 6.
Ben's pick: New York in 6.
Garret's pick: New York in 4.
2012 25 cent Canadian quarter picks: New York Rangers.
Boston Bruins (4) vs. Toronto Maple Leafs (5)
Boston won the season series 3-1-0.
Why Boston will win: Boston is one of the NHL's stoutest defensive teams are are facing a team that ranks twenty-eighth in shots per game. Not only that, but they also excel offensively as well, with seven players who have scored ten goals or more. Also, the line of Tyler Seguin, Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand are one of the best in hockey. Toronto is in tough.
Why Toronto will win: Seriously though, Toronto won't win. James Reimer will honestly have to post a SV% of +.930 to give them a chance. But fear not, Leafs fans. The quarter picked you.
Trevor's pick: Boston in 5.
Derek's pick: Boston in 7.
Ryan's pick: Boston in 4.
Tim's pick: Boston in 4.
Dan's pick: Boston in 5.
Graham's pick: Boston in 3.
Phil's pick: Boston in 6.
Ben's pick: Boston in 5.
Garret's pick: Garret chose to steal Graham's thunder here, by also choosing Boston in 3. Bad form, Garret!
2011 25 cent Canadian quarter picks: Toronto Maple Leafs.
Ed. Note: After posting a series record of 10-5 and winning last year's Playoff Predictor, the 2011 25 cent Canadian quarter has retired the undisputed champion. It has been replaced with a 2012 25 cent Canadian quarter.