Anyway, here were my first round picks:
Stars in 5, Blackhawks in 6, Ducks in 5, Kings in 6
Panthers in 6, Lightning in 7, Capitals in 5, Rangers in 6
Here's what actually happened:
Stars in 6, Blues in 7, Predators in 7, Sharks in 5
Islanders in 6, Lightning in 5, Capitals in 6, Penguins in 5
That didn't go as expected. With 3-of-8 matchups picked correctly, I was way off from what happened, and I stunk compared to last season. What can I say, I was a year early on the Blues and Islanders.
We learned quite a bit from the 1st round. In the West, there is complete and total anarchy, as the defending champions are out, as are the Kings. It's hard to pick a favorite, because these teams all have glaring issues and share a sense of playoff futility as none of them have had sustained success in the playoffs in years. For example, the Stars have no #1 goaltender. Lehtonen and Niemi are both inconsistent. The Stars can score a ton, which is helpful because they'll have to keep scoring when their goaltenders are as bad as they are. The Blues are in strange new territory, while the Predators have inexperience and a somewhat shaky goaltender in Rinne. The Sharks have an excellent top line and a solid goaltender in Martin Jones, though their depth showed up in the 1st round it could be considered questionable as the other three forward lines got out-shot and outscored routinely in the regular season.
In the East, we have more familiar faces. Though the Islanders made the 2nd round for the first time since 1993, the other three teams are more experienced. The Lightning are down a couple of key players, yet thanks to Nikita Kucherov, Tyler Johnson, and Jonathan Drouin, aren't really missing the injured guys. The Capitals took six games to beat the Flyers and thus look overrated, as if they weren't massively overrated coming in. Washington is known for choking hard in the playoffs and I expect them to lose to Pittsburgh. Speaking of the Penguins, they looked a lot better against the Rangers this year than they did last year. I guess having a full complement of defensemen is important.
How will the 2nd Round go? Well, based on the 1st Round, I have no clue. That said, here are my picks:
Stars in 6, Sharks in 6
Lightning in 6, Penguins in 5
No matter who wins, though, I expect a compelling 2nd Round. So far, the Islanders put up four goals on Ben Bishop and won Game 1 5-3. Given that Bishop is a finalist for the Vezina trophy, he'll play better. Though, really, he can't get much worse.
Enjoy the 2nd Round, everyone!