The first round of the NHL playoffs are done for 2016, and overall I did pretty well in predictions, going 5-3. My misses were picking the Rangers (who looked lost), the Ducks (who looked really good until game 7, opened flat and never quite recovered) and Chicago, who could well have won but didn’t. Over the last 20 years or so my picking has gone about 60%, better than chance but not so good to make me cocky, which is fine.
So here’s my second round picks… First, in the east:
Tampa/New York Islanders: with one game already played because of the compressed schedule, and the Islanders basically schooling Tampa, I really think this is a tossup. I expect Tampa to be a lot better in game 2 and the series can go either way, but I really like the determination and poise I’m seeing with that Islanders team. I’ll take New York in 6.
Capitals/Penguins: Since I picked Washington to make it to the Cup final, I don’t see any reason not to continue picking them to win. The Penguins are playing better than I thought they would (obviously, since the Rangers are golfing) but I don’t think they’ll get through. Washington in 5. This will likely be a physical and bruising series that’s fun to watch.
Dallas/St. Louis: I picked Dallas, and and the Blues were a coin toss with Chicago and won the coin toss. I’m currently leaning towards the Blues, but it’s another close series I expect to be very entertaining. So let’s say St. Louis in 6.
San Jose/Nashville: the good news: San Jose is playing great hockey right now. Bad news: San Jose was 1-2 against the predators this season. Good news: the one win was late in the year once the Sharks had everything firing on all cylinders. Bad news: unfortunate travel (but no back to back games, which would have happened with Anaheim) and the Predators are playing well and seem to stand up to San Jose well. In other words, this ought to be some fun and rip-roaring hockey. I’m comfortable picking San Jose in six, but if I’m wrong, I’m okay with that, too.
If my guesses happen, that makes the conference finals Washington and New York (the TV networks cheer), and San Jose and St. Louis, and that’s going to make more interesting hockey, I think…
Sharks play Friday, and I’ll be at the TV watching…