With the first day of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs set for tomorrow, the hockey world is abuzz with predictions. Some purely scientific, others wishful thinking, and some just downright ridiculous (and extremely fun) forecasts. Instead of adding my voice to the mix, here is a summary and count of the most useful prediction articles dealing with the upcoming Columbus Blue Jackets vs. Pittsburgh Penguins series.
SB Nation: The Penguins come into the Playoffs with an incredibly top-heavy lineup, while the Jackets are getting power from all three of their top centers. Sergei Bobrovsky has had an exceptional season, but the Marc-Andre Fleury boasts way more post-season experience. Prediction: Penguins in 7.
The Hockey Writers: Using a mathematical model that was extremely accurate last season, The Hockey Writers analyzed each match-up for the first round of the Playoffs. Based on Pittsburgh’s poor finish to the season and recent injury struggles, their model picks the Jackets to pull off the upset in this series. Prediction: Columbus (no game amount specified.)
Fox Sports: Bobrovsky has had a pretty solid season, but his numbers are extremely similar to those posted by Fleury in his last few seasons, in which he had a hard time in the Playoffs. Bobrovsky will have to prove himself in the Playoffs, the season alone isn’t proof enough. It is going to be a huge challenge for the Jackets’ centers to shut down Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, a feat that will likely spell the doom of Columbus. Marc-Andre Fleury is the only loose cannon on the Pens team, and is the only real hope Columbus has of winning this series. Prediction: Pittsburgh in 5.
Too Many Men On The Site: The Jackets might just give Pittsburgh a tougher run than they think. Despite the regular season stats between them, the Jackets are capable of competing on the Penguins’ level. The Pens haven’t faced a healthy Bobrovsky all season, and they have a history of faltering in the post-season. But in the end, the Jackets probably won’t be able to match Pittsburgh’s offensive power. Prediction: Pittsburgh in 6.
Puck Daddy: The Penguins have the advantage in forwards, defense, and special teams, but the Jackets have the advantage in recent hotness and goalies, according to Puck Daddy. The teams are even in terms of coaches. The Jackets are a “gritty team with an outstanding goalie”, not to mention having to defend NWA from Pens fans. Puck Daddy says that is “a recipe for an upset”. Prediction: Columbus in 6.
Bleacher Report: The Pittsburgh-Columbus match-up may seem like a “David-versus-Goliath” story, but these two reams are actually fairly close in the numbers. Pittsburgh has a bigger goal differential, but Columbus is better at puck possession. Key players are Sidney Crosby for Pittsburgh, and James Wisniewski for Columbus. Wisniewski leads Columbus’ blue line, but there is depth in the names of Ryan Murray, Jack Johnson and Fedor Tyutin. More depth, perhaps, than Pittsburgh. And of course, the same goaltender storyline. Prediction: “This is not an easy series to call.” Pittsburgh in 7.
And, last but not least, the poll results from our preview yesterday: 35% of you said the Jackets will take it in 6. 29% said the Jackets in 5, 12% said Penguins in 5, 12% Penguins in 6, and the final 12% said Penguins in 7. Optimistic, I like it!
Agree or disagree with any of the above previews and predictions? Leave a comment and let us know!