It's playoff time, sirs and mesdames. Or it will be tomorrow. Razor Catch Prey has already offered his predictions and wishes for the whole dongle. Here be mine, but only for the first round.
Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Ottawa Senators
Who I'd Like to Win: I have to admit I'm a little indifferent here. Or I would be, under normal circumstances. A team that harbors third-rate ice terrorists like Matt Cooke and fearsome Canadian imperialists like Sidney Crosby deserves pitiless, crushing defeat. At the hands of a good Canadian team like the Senators, who feature players I actually really like, like Daniel Alfredsson and Milan Michalek (one of the most underrated players in this wide and bright NHL).
Who Will Actually Win: I'll be perverse and contrarian here and pick the Sens. 7 games. I expect Crosby to be a heroic beast, but Malkin won't be up for another Conn Smythe performance. The Senators will play a super-conservative and methodical game and narrowly beat the Pens.
New Jersey Devils vs. Philadelphia Flyers
Who I'd Like to Win: USian hero Zach Parise; an aging titan of goaltending making one last big run before he runs out of stamina; Ilya damn Kovalchuk. I know who I want to win.
Who Will Actually Win: Even though the Flyers dominated them during the regular season, I'll say the Devils in 5 relatively easy games. Their power play will hum along with gruesome efficiency, and Brodeur will be, to put it mildly, better than whoever the Flyers have in net these days.
Phoenix Coyotes vs. Detroit Red Wings
Who I'd Like to Win: The Coyotes, for reasons that should be obvious to anyone that possesses a soul.
Who Will Actually Win: I can see this one going either way. It will likely become a goalie duel and both Ilya Bryzgalov and Jimmy Howard will be very good. If I had to choose realistically, though, I'd pick the Red Wings in 6. Their experience and discipline is second to none. As celebrated Chronicle commenter the Jointhead said, the Wings have the wherewithal to go Balls Deep.
San Jose Sharks vs. Colorado Avalanche
Who I'd Like to Win: Dany Heatley has ruined a perfectly appealing team by making them better, but I still have great affection for the Sharks. Marleau, Thornton, Nabokov, Blake, Boyle, Setoguchi, etc...Despite my anti-Heatley posturing, I'd like to see them win back SOME measure of self-respect by making it out of the first round. The Av's are a fun team, and their unexpected quality this season has been interesting to watch, but ultimately they don't do that much for me. I mean, really: what has John-Michael Liles done for me today?
Who Will Actually Win: Craig Anderson will play brilliantly, but not brilliantly enough to stop the Sharks. He'll steal one game. Sharks in 5.
Washington Capitals vs. Montreal Canadiens
Who I'd Like to Win: The Capitals, because they're just too much fun.
Who Will Actually Win: Jaroslav Halak will be mighty fine, but the Capitals will get the job done in 6.
Buffalo Sabres vs. Boston Bruins
Who I'd Like to Win: Ryan Miller and the Sabres.
Who Will Actually Win: Ryan Miller and the Sabres, easily, in 5 games.
Vancouver Canucks vs. Los Angeles Kings
Who I'd Like to Win: The Kings. Because they're the Kings! Also: do check out this fine post over at the Battle of California. Los Angeles and Vancouver: two very different but very similar, and equally civilized (for exactly the reasons Rudy Kelly states), cities.
Who Will Actually Win: This has the potential to be a gritty, violent series. The drama of Team USA comrades Ryan Kesler and Dustin Brown just cold going nuts, skating into each other, causing destruction, should be edifying. Jonathan Quick will be good, but not as good as Roberto Luongo. Canucks in 7.
MAY REALITY RAIN DOOM ON MY IDLE SPECULATIONS.
UPDATE: Ahahahaha, forgot the Chicago Blackhawks vs. Nashville Predators series. Stupid, so stupid! I have literally zero interest in this one, but I suppose I'd like the Predators to win, just because they've never been out of the first round. But Chicago will dine on their souls, for pleasure, culminating a grand but exhausting feast in Game 7.