Prediction Time! Here are the teams that I picked to go to the Conference Round. I picked all but two teams last time but my game totals were pretty off so I hope that this round will be better!
Nashville vs. St. Louis
I originally picked this as Chicago vs. St. Louis but I was wrong about that so bear with me as I pick a new winner! I think that Nashville can continue their great play into the second round against St. Louis.
They do not have the home ice advantage but they don't care about that. They just took down a giant and they are ready to take down a franchise that can never seem to take control of the playoffs.
Jake Allen is a great goaltender and looked great against Minnesota but Pekka Rinne is also great and he did much better in the last series vs. Chicago's elite snipers.
St. Louis is good and all but history can repeat itself just like all the other years before and Nashville definitely has an edge that is dangerous right now.
Anaheim vs. Edmonton
This series will be huge because both teams are tough, with Edmonton's youth movement and Anaheim's mix of youth and experienced players.
John Gibson will have to be nearly perfect for Anaheim to win because Edmonton is great offensively while Anaheim needs help in that area. Anaheim's defense is almost back to full strength but their young players have excelled in their heightened positions (hello, Shea Theodore!).
I am picking Anaheim for this because they are a really good team. They had some not-so-great games vs. Calgary but they found a way to win. Calgary is totally different than Edmonton though as the Oilers have CONNOR MCDAVID and Leon Draisaitl. Draisaitl knows how to score against the Ducks but Rickard Rakell has had some great goals against the Oilers too.
Expect to see great goals and great goaltending (Talbot and Gibson will be stretched to their thresholds).
New York vs. Ottawa
Both teams had even contests in the first round against Boston and Montreal. New York improved in their home playoff games and were great on the road, but I am picking Ottawa to win this one.
They are slightly better defensively on the goaltending side (Anderson is doing better than King Henrik?! What?!) because they have a goals against average of 2.56 compared to 2.63 and a save percentage of .926 versus .923. On defense, they have Erik Karlsson, a Norris Tropy finalist again this year. That should be enough for them to remain strong against New York's offense.
Washington vs. Pittsburgh
Sid vs. Ovi! I feel like we saw this last year... oh wait! I originally picked this as Toronto vs. Pittsburgh but Washington had other plans... I still thought Pittsburgh would win and I stand by that.
Unlike Washington, they know how to get to the Cup and not disappoint in the playoffs. Crosby has an advantage over Ovechkin and he will continue his magic in this series. Also, Jake Guentzel is shining in his playoffs debut which shows just how powerful of an influence that Crosby is on the ice. I would expect the best from this series as the two best players face off with two great goaltenders behind them.
One century of this game and League is a wonderful milestone to celebrate. Let's hope to do this in the next century!