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2017 NHL Playoffs First Round Predictions: Blue Jackets vs Penguins

Eastern Conference 2017 NHL Playoffs First Round Predictions: Columbus Blue Jackets vs Pittsburgh Penguins

As the 2017 NHL Playoffs get going in the first round, the Blue Jackets will attempt to knock off the defending champions Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference. Will Columbus pass through or will the Penguins move closer to another title? Here are my predictions for this series.

Series Schedule

  • Game 1: April 12, 7:30 PM ET, at Pittsburgh
  • Game 2: April 14, 7:00 PM ET, at Pittsburgh
  • Game 3: April 16, 6:00 PM ET, at Columbus
  • Game 4: April 18, 7:30 PM ET, at Columbus
  • Game 5: April 20, TBD, at Pittsburgh*
  • Game 6: April 23, TBD, at Columbus*
  • Game 7: April 25, TBD, at Pittsburgh*

(*if necessary)

Will The Blue Jackets win the series?

The Blue Jackets have an able goalie minding the sticks in two-time Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky. He’ll be pushed to his limits however if he’s to stop the Penguins onslaught led by Sidney Crosby and the Pens’ forwards. Bobrovsky’s hasn’t been as great in the playoffs however (.890 save percentage in 13 playoff games), so the Jackets’ apparent edge in goalie might not be too significant.

The Blue Jackets will need all the defense they can muster if their offense doesn’t pick up however; Columbus lost six of their last seven regular season games and weren’t at all effective at gaining scores. Pittsburgh’s blue line is hobbled by Kris Letang’s and Olli Maata’s injuries and they should be able to take advantage of this.

Will The Penguins win the series?

The Pens’ blue line isn’t the only one of their worries; forwards Carl Hagelin and Chris Kunitz are also banged up. However, in Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh has the best player in the country leading the attack. Evgeni Malkin will also be returning which adds to the Penguins’ formidable attack that has the likes of forwards  Phil Kessel, Conor Sheary, Patric Hornqvist in the ranks.

Matt Murray is minding the sticks and as a grizzled playoff veteran his contribution is unquestioned. In last season’s Cup run, Murray had a .923 save percentage which gives the team more reason to trust he’ll perform just as well.

Series Prediction: Should this series go long, Pittsburgh has the home ice in game 7. The Penguins are 31-6-4 at home this season, the second best home win record in the league, which means they’ll likely win the series. After seven games, the Penguins will move to the second round.

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