2011 NHL Playoff Predictions from the On the Forecheck staff

BOSTON MA - FEBRUARY 09: Johnny Boychuk #55 of the Boston Bruins fights with Jaroslav Spacek #6 of the Montreal Canadiens is Shawn Thornton #22 of the Bruins and Brian Gionta #21 of the Canadiens fight on February 9 2011 at the TD Garden in Boston Massachusetts. The Bruins defeated the Canadiens 8-6. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Yes, NHL playoff predictions are mostly worthless. But we here at On the Forecheck pride ourselves in expansive coverage, and so, predictions you'll get - though we make no promises as to their accuracy or quality. 

After the jump, predictions for every first round series from Dirk, myself, Marc, and Ryan. Sam was too busy trying to get his enormous Patric Hornqvist .gif to load to cooperate.

Washington/New York

Dirk: I like the way the Capitals have buckled down and gotten a bit serious this season. Consider, for example, the fact that they gave up 2.33 goals per game this year, just a hair worse than the Preds' 2.32... but they've got guys like Ovechkin, Backstrom, Semin & Green who are constant threats to light up the scoreboard. Oh, and Jason Arnott brings a very strong presence at center behind Backstrom, along with proven playoff experience. Capitals in 5.

Chris: There's a fair amount of trepidation regarding the Capitals and the playoffs, and justifiably so given their last few outings. That said, the Rangers are down Ryan Callahan and the Caps have added veteran pieces. Caps in 5.

Marc: The Rangers definitely have the goaltending to compete with anybody, but I feel like this is Ovi's year, and the Caps are going to make some noise. Washington in five.

Ryan: Rangers gave the Caps fits this year for whatever reason, and Lundqvist can steal games for his team.  But I think Ovie and Co. will advance. Caps in 6.

Philadelphia/Buffalo

Dirk: What a strange series this one is. The Flyers looked like an elite team all year long, but have stumbled down the stretch. Ryan Miller always gives the Sabres a chance to win, but my head says to stick with the loaded Philadelphia lineup. Flyers in 6.

Chris: It's never good to back into the postseason, but that's what the Flyers are doing. The Sabres, though, are hot, and Ryan Miller can tilt the ice drastically in Buffalo's favor. Sabres in 7.

Marc: The Flyers will be motivated and looking to build off of last year's run. Ryan Miller is good, but not good enough. Philadelphia in five.

Ryan: Is Miller at 100%?  Flyers have the fire power. Flyers in five.

Boston/Montreal

Dirk: Forget padding the stanchions, they'll need to wrap up the Molson Centre like a scene from Dexter in this one. Bruins in 5.

Chris: Tim Thomas has benefited from a good team in front of him all year, while Carey Price has just been flat out good. I think the Habs exact true revenge for Max Pacioretty in what'll likely be the best series of the first round. Habs in 6.

Marc: Easily the best matchup of the first round. One of the best rivalries in the NHL, mixed in with the Chara/Pacioretty incident makes this must-see TV. In the end, though, Montreal wants it more. Montreal in seven.

Ryan: Hopefully, we can move past the big hit. Bruins in six.

Tampa/Pittsburgh

Dirk: The way Dan Bylsma guided his Pens to the #4 seed without Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin for so long is certainly admirable, but with the increased focus on star players and matchups that we see at playoff time, I think Guy Boucher will be to gain the advantage with Stamkos, St. Louis and Lecavalier. Lightning in 7

Chris: This one's a little tricky. Without Crosby or Malkin, the Penguins lose their teeth. If Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis work their regular season magic, then the Lightning have a chance. In the end, though, the Penguins' experience will pay off. Penguins in 6.

Marc: A lot depends on whether or not Crosby plays, but Dan Bylsma has done a terrific job even without him in the lineup. Penguins too deep and talented for Lightning. Pittsburgh in six.

Ryan: Stamkos will soar, and if Crosby plays, I hope they hit him early and often. Lightning in six. 

Vancouver/Chicago

Dirk: The Canucks are firing on all cylinders, and nothing will get their attention more than the chance to avenge consecutive playoff eliminations against the Blackhawks. Vancouver in 5.

Chris: This is the third year in a row these two teams have met, and the animosity is at an extremely high level. The Canucks are under pressure to perform, while the Hawks are under pressure to defend their title. If Corey Crawford does just enough, I think Chicago pulls it out. Hawks in 7.

Marc: Easily the most lopsided matchup of the postseason, in my opinion. The Canucks were the best team in the NHL by a long shot, while Chicago is, quite frankly, lucky to be here. Add that to the fact that Chicago has knocked Vancouver out of the last two years, and you've got the makings of a blowout. Vancouver in four.

Ryan: Let's get this whole 'dynasty' talk over with right away. Vancouver in five.

San Jose/Los Angeles

Dirk: Losing Kopitar and Williams is a cruel blow to the Kings, who have been the "next hot thing" for a couple years now. Sharks in 5.

Chris: Justin Williams and Anze Kopitar are two of the Kings' most important forwards. Los Angeles is missing them, and that'll prove their downfall against an extremely sharp Sharks squad. Sharks in 5.

Marc: The Sharks feel that this is their year, and it's hard to argue with them. They almost got their last year, but were embarrassed by Chicago. Plus, the Kings have been hurt by injury. San Jose in five.

Ryan: Nor-Cal gets a scare from So-Cal. Sharks in 7.

Detroit/Phoenix

Dirk: This will be a real war, especially with the Red Wings lacking Zetterberg at least for the start. Detroit in 7.

Chris: I want to pick against Detroit. I really and honestly do, but we saw this series last year, and I think this incarnation of the Coyotes is actually worse than last year's. Wings in 6.

Marc: This is a tough series to predict, because on one side you have the aging, but still very formidable Red Wings, and on the other hand are the talented, but super streaky Coyotes. In the end, though, I'm not betting against the Wings in the postseason. Detroit in six.

Ryan: They're the Wings. It's what they do. Wings in 5.

Nashville/Anaheim

Dirk: I already called Preds in 6 - that's my story, and I'm sticking to it!    

Chris: Lastly, the most difficult choice of all. There are so many "ifs" here that one can't really pick the series with any amount of confidence - which goalie will the Ducks use? Will Pekka Rinne keep his regular season form? Is Mike Fisher truly a playoff player? All of these questions will shortly be answered. I do know one thing, though - I believe. Preds in 6.

Marc: Picking the Preds in the post-season has become like picking Vandy in the NCAA tournament. It's always "their year" to make a run, but they end up going out in the first round. Therefore, speaking objectively, I can't pick them until they finally win a series. Also, I'm pretty sure it goes against every betting rule to pick your own team. So, as much as it pains me to say this...Anaheim in seven.

Ryan: Sorry guys. Pekka will stand on his head, but it won't be enough. Ducks in 6.

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