Puck Daddy’s 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs Picks: Who wins it all?

The 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs are finally here!

The NHL’s current playoff system gave us uncertainty until the final weekend; inequitable circumstances for successful teams, like the Montreal Canadiens drawing the New York Rangers in the first round; and, alas, nearly none of the rivalry matchups that seemed so possible down the stretch, i.e. the Battles of Ontario, Alberta and California.

What we’re left with are some intense matchups, some oddly compelling ones and five Canadian teams that somehow won’t cannibalize each other in the opening round for once.

So who wins in Round 1? And who eventually hoists the Holy Grail?

Puck Daddy presents its 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs prognostications, featuring editors Greg Wyshynski, Sean Leahy, Jen Neale and Josh Cooper; columnist Ryan Lambert; staff writer Justin Cuthbert; and fantasy writer Steve Laidlaw of Dobber Hockey.

Here’s how we see the first round shaking out:

And now, some additional predictions and views on the 2017 Playoffs:

Which series are you most looking forward to and why? 

Greg Wyshynski: The Edmonton Oilers, with the boundless young dumb energy of a teenage boy fumbling with his first bra strap, taking on last year’s crusty old conference champions, the San Jose Sharks. Connor McDavid’s first spin in the playoff spotlight. Strap in.

Sean Leahy: I’m looking forward to two series. The first is Penguins-Blue Jackets because there’s never any love lost between these teams. The fans hate one another. The players hate one another. Torts and Sullivan are good pals, but for the next two weeks they won’t be. Then there’s also Sharks-Oilers, which gives us Connor McJesus’ first foray into the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Will Cam Talbot hold up? How many points will McDavid amass? How long will Joe Thornton’s beard be by the end of the series?

Jen Neale: The Blue Jackets and Penguins, and it’s a shame they’re meeting so early. The two teams have established a pretty good regular season rivalry. Outside of Pittsburgh, who doesn’t love watching Brandon Dubinsky really, truly piss off Sidney Crosby? This is going to be physical and ugly.

Josh Cooper: I like the storyline of St. Louis coach Mike Yeo vs. his old team with the Blues against the Minnesota Wild. If the Blues win that series it will be devastating for the Wild – an organization that fired Yeo last season and ended up replacing him with Bruce Boudreau in the summer.

Ryan Lambert: I’m psyched for Chicago/Nashville. Been rooting for it all year. Those are just two very good, entertaining teams. I think Chicago remains a little overrated in terms of their overall quality, but they’ve come on a bit in the past month or two, process-wise. meanwhile, Nashville has been a solid team all year, held back only by a lack of a serious top line like it had last season.

Chicago actually dominated the season series, winning four of five, and by a combined score of 20-14. But take out empty-netters and it was 17-14. Pretty close. These are two evenly matched teams that play fun hockey. Should be a great series.

Justin Cuthbert: The contrast in form in the two-three matchup in the Pacific Division between the Edmonton Oilers and San Jose Sharks makes it the most captivating series for me. Connor McDavid and crew soared over the finish line while the defending Western Conference champion Sharks, perhaps now feeling the effects of last season’s run, staggered across. It’ll be fascinating to see if the Sharks have a reserve, and if postseason know-how levels the playing field. 

Steve Laidlaw: Columbus vs. Pittsburgh – This matchup was madness two years ago and the gap between the two has shrunk, especially with Letang out. Watching Dubinsky antagonize Crosby for two weeks will be wonderful.

Give us one team you think could be the sleeper pick in this year’s playoffs and why?

Greg Wyshynski: Nashville. Everyone’s preseason darling – P.K. Subban is a hell of a drug – could be one of those teams that finds itself in the playoffs, especially after a big series win. Like the one I’m foolishly predicting will happen in Round 1 against the Blackhawks.

Sean Leahy: Can you call the Sharks a dark horse in the West? I think I’m calling the Sharks a dark horse in the West.

Jen Neale: The Oilers. I can’t believe I’m writing that. This isn’t your mama’s Oilers. Connor McDavid isn’t the sole producer on the team. Leon Draisaitl had 77 points. There are two 50-plus and two 40-plus point scorers. Cam Talbot earned 42 wins without completely breaking down. Patrick Maroon had 27 goals (!!) when his career high was 11 to that point. They’re still missing a ‘game changer’ on the blueline but they can make a pretty good run in the West.

Josh Cooper: I like the Anaheim Ducks as a team that could do some damage. Not having Cam Fowler hurts but if there’s a team that can withstand the loss of a player like Fowler on defense, it’s the Ducks – a group that’s loaded with blue liners.

They’re big, physical, fast and play the type of hockey that can go far in the playoffs. I think they’ll make the Western Conference Final but an appearance in the Cup Final wouldn’t surprise me. 

Ryan Lambert: I can see the Bruins getting on one and making a deeper run than many might expect given their record. They have a good goalie and one of the more impressive top lines in the league. Moreover, their process all year has been solid as hell, and the ability to play Ottawa and then the winner of Montreal/New York is as good a playoff pull as anyone is gonna get. I’m not saying it’ll happen, but it for-sure could.

Justin Cuthbert: The St. Louis Blues, considered the longest shot to win the Stanley Cup in the minds of oddsmakers, outscored opponents 44-24 at five-on-five since dismantling some at the trade deadline. Strong form and low expectation equals upset potential. 

Steve Laidlaw: Columbus – No one seems to give them much chance of getting through the Metro gauntlet and perhaps rightfully so but the banged-up Penguins are ripe to be upset, and we all know Washington’s playoff woes. Plus, Bobrovsky was the best goalie in the league all season. If he stays hot, he can steal a series or three.

What is your Stanley Cup Final, and how does it play out?

Greg Wyshynski

  • EAST: Capitals

  • WEST: Wild

  • STANLEY CUP CHAMPION: Capitals in 7. Hey kids, if you’re following along, that’s Bruce Boudreau losing a Game 7 to his former team.

  • CONN SMYTHE: Braden Holtby

Sean Leahy

  • EAST: Capitals

  • WEST: Sharks

  • STANLEY CUP CHAMPION: Capitals in 6 (picking the Caps always seems to work out!)

  • CONN SMYTHE: Braden Holtby 

Jen Neale

  • EAST: Penguins

  • WEST: Blackhawks

  • STANLEY CUP CHAMPION: Blackhawks in 7

  • CONN SMYTHE: Jonathan Toews

Josh Cooper

  • EAST: Capitals

  • WEST: Blackhawks

  • STANLEY CUP CHAMPION: Blackhawks in 7

  • CONN SMYTHE: Jonathan Toews

Ryan Lambert

  • EAST: Capitals

  • WEST: Blackhawks

  • STANLEY CUP CHAMPION: Capitals in 6

  • CONN SMYTHE: Braden Holtby 

Justin Cuthbert

  • EAST: Capitals

  • WEST: Blackhawks

  • STANLEY CUP CHAMPION: Capitals in 7

  • CONN SMYTHE: Nicklas Backstrom

Steve Laidlaw

  • EAST: Capitals

  • WEST: Blackhawks

  • STANLEY CUP CHAMPION: Capitals in 6

  • CONN SMYTHE: Alex Ovechkin

Greg Wyshynski is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter. His book, TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PUCK, is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold.

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