What goes into making a series prediction?
Do you scribble math on the back of a napkin? Follow your gut? Maybe you unabashedly predict your home team in four you shameless homer…
Whatever your technique, it’s always fun to join the chorus of prognosticators at this time of year. That’s why we thought it would be fun to ask some of the contributors at Leafs Hub to take part in this cherished Canadian pastime of picking a winner. For this piece, we’ll focus on the Leafs and Capitals, Round 1 of course.
I don’t care if they read tea leaves or saw an omen after too many beers. I wanted to hear what these crazy bastards had to say.
@Lonny_Bohonos – Washington in 6
“This series has the potential to be either one of the most entertaining battles of the post season or over very quickly. I’m willing to bet the former is the more likely result. The Leafs head into the playoffs with one of the most dynamic young offenses the league has seen in years and can match the firepower of the Washington forwards. The Capitals however are an experienced bunch and they know this is most likely their last kick at the can with their current group. The pressure they are under to advance is immense. While my heart is with the Leafs, their blue line just doesn’t compare to the group the Caps have assembled on their backend. Washington in 6 (I just threw up in mouth a little as I wrote that).”
@JudeMac_17 – Leafs in 7
“Okay so right off the bat, I really am expecting a split in Washington. If not, then if the Leafs got a split at home, we’d have to lose a 3rd straight in Washington to go out in five games. So before the series breakdown even begins, you’re looking at a Game Six.
Now I’ve conceded so it sounds but the more I think about it and run over these teams in my head, I don’t know if there’s a tougher or more mentally challenging match-up for Trotz, Holtby, and Ovi than to face the upstart Toronto Maple Leafs straight out of the gate.
Washington is a monster. There’s no question. But they have pressure points and frailty it’s possible the Buds could expose. Matthews, Marner, Nylander, who knows what’s about to happen with them. There’s just something about this team in its 100th year that takes the decision out of my head and puts into my heart. “
@MockTheGeek – Washington in 6
“I’m sorry. I wanted to be more optimistic. When Toronto played Washington on April 4th, the differences in the teams were thrown into sharp relief and it was not good for our blue buds. For me, it was reminiscent of the Mighty Ducks 2 movie when the scrappy young Ducks team first saw the big, well-trained Iceland team. Our youth and lack of experience are beneficial in the way that our team is eager, adaptable and don’t have specific expectations; however this is likely to hurt us more than help us. These are the Stanley Cup playoffs, not some one-game, winner takes all Hail Mary where the underdog just needs to eke out one big performance; this team needs to put up 4 wins against a faster, more experienced and, let’s face it, superior team. The Leafs have made mind boggling strides in just the past 12 months alone, but let’s not get too ahead of ourselves. Playing Washington earlier this month showed us that, although we have come a long way already, there is still much further to go. For the record, I really hope I’m wrong.”
@Darn_Hockey – Washington in 5
“Considering the hockey talent assembled on and off the ice, it comes as no surprise that the Leafs secured the second wild card spot. The fact they are playing playoff hockey is exciting for Leafs Nation and should put to bed jokes about golf tee-off times in April. No matter the outcome versus Washington, the entire organization will benefit from this experience in the chase for the Stanley Cup for years to come.
All things being equal, the Caps defense will be the difference maker in this series.This series will be a fun one to watch. Unfortunately Washington is just too strong. Capitals in 5
Go Leafs Go”
@GrizzlyCanadian – Leafs in 6
“There are many doubters who are saying the Leafs will get swept, or lose in five, but I just don’t see it that way. Maybe it’s from watching this team for 82 games, but I think they present a matchup problem for the Caps. In terms of pace of play, the Leafs are one of the only teams in the league that play faster than the Penguins, who eliminated Washington last year on their way to the Stanley Cup. Granted they also had a team that was probably superior to the Leafs in some spots, but the style of play is similar. Also, I actually think the Leafs are deeper in terms of forward lines than the Caps. The Caps have a stellar top line, but their depth is a little suspect, and while a good team, they’ve been helped out by several forwards career high shooting percentages.If the Leafs can dictate pace, stay out of the box and get solid goaltending, I think they win in six games.”
@Hip2Jive – Leafs in 6
“I sometimes roll my eyes when people tell me everything happens for a reason but sometimes things that happen, do change the future. I think that game 7 in Boston left a bitter determination that has not seen the light of day since and It’s about to get its debut.
Kadri, Bozak, Reilly, JVR, Komarov, even Gardiner have felt the grief of that elimination every day since, I guarantee it. One leaf remarked “that game will haunt me until the day i die”. Imagine being drafted into that team.
These Leafs will come out as a force of nature. The Caps dominance over the League is well documented, you know.. along with their annual elimination from the post season.
Playing the Leafs in the playoffs for the first time since game 7 is one step below stealing Liam Neeson’s daughter. I wouldn’t recommend it. Leafs in 6”
@ramsville – Leafs in 7
“Washington has been a team that tends to crack under pressure. If the Leafs can steal one early and up the intensity, I could see this going the Buds way.”
@chow_allan – Washington in 6
“The series between the Leafs and the Caps is your classic massive favorite vs undeniable underdog. The Caps are built to win now. Their scoring depth starts with having 2 terrific centres, Nik Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov. Have 2 elite players in the middle gives them pretty much 2 number 1 lines. To have the likes of Alex Ovechkin, Marcus Johansson and TJ Oshie, along with Mr. Game 7, Justin Williams flanking them, it’s a pretty formidable group. They also are powerful offensively on D with the addition of Kevin Shattenkirk, an impact power play point man. He joins John Carlson, Matt Niskanen and Dmitri Orlov to give them a mobile, skilled blueline group. That kind of depth will mean the Caps will come in waves and could prove to be a matchup nightmare as you can only slow down so many talented players. And, if they struggle to score? Braden Holtby is back there to hold the fort in net. As one of the league’s best goalies, he is a big difference maker in goal, capable of stealing games. With strong special teams, an excellent coach and plenty of overall depth, the Caps are poised for a long long playoff run and will be a huge obstacle for the Leafs to overcome.
Toronto has though the benefit of having nothing to lose. They’ve surprised everyone making it this far. No one could have predicted them to make the playoffs in September with so many unproven players. But clearly Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and William Nylander among others have proven they are excellent NHL players. Matthews with 40 goals leads an offence that comes in waves with 3 strong scoring lines that have loads of speed and skill. They pressure opponents with their speed and quickness. Play fast, play right is the Leafs mantra. The Leafs D also has skill. Nikita Zaitsev, Jake Gardiner and Morgan Rielly are excellent puck moving blueliners who can join the play and jump start it. The issue with this team is defending. They give up chances, they make mistakes, they’re not airtight. They rely heavily on Frederik Andersen to steal a game or 3 for them. He has been terrific, but he is going to need the team in front of him to play smart and be reliable enough to perhaps at most bend, but not break. Like all 16 playoff teams, you get in, you have a chance. It may not be very high for the Leafs, but with a top notch power play, and a decent PK, there is enough weapons around to perhaps put a scare into the Caps plans for a Cup.”
@SkateLaceBite – Leafs in 7
“Without question this first round match up is the most daunting of all tasks imaginable for the Leafs. However, it is one that I think that the young squad can overcome. “Coco you’re crazy !!” Quite possibly so, but a team that is young has no idea what they aren’t supposed to be able to accomplish and Babcock will have them focused. Game 1 is pure survival mode. Caps will be FIRED UP and there is a good chance it’s a beatdown. Steal Game 2 and the series is up for grabs and the tension will set into the Capitals. Stay out of the box, capitalize (no pun intended) on the few power plays that you do get and have Freddy Andersen stand on those flowing ginger locks and we stand a chance. Leafs in 7.”
What says you?
Leave your predictions in the comments below.