Using a combination of FenClose, recent trends in FenClose, PDO, and goalie assessment, I’m going to put this out there.
It’s worth pointing out, initially, that any playoff prediction should be taken with an enormous grain of salt. TL;DR version: you can win a playoff series with a 57% win percentage, which is barely enough to make the playoffs in the first place, and we all know that 4-7 game samples are still too small to develop sound predictions. This also means that small of a sample can potentially be misleading about a team’s talent and its comparison to other teams.
Anyway, I like what the Blue Jackets have done this year, and I do think that Sergei Bobrovsky is a legitimate talent, so that improves their odds against a Penguins team that has been gradually worsening in the possession game as the season wore on. The West is going to have some colossal matchups right out of the gates; I went with the Blackhawks primarily because even though their goaltending is a bit shaky, they are strong possession-wise and they’ve only improved in the latter half of the season. Boston gets the edge in the Finals because they have the same season story as the Blackhawks, only their improvement is much more substantial. Claude Julien has really figured out his roster, Tuukka Rask is a reliable goaltender, and I truly think Patrice Bergeron has supplanted Pavel Datsyuk as the best player in the world.
Predictions are about probability, odds, and a bit of intuition, and it seems obvious to pick the Presidents’ Trophy winner but the Boston Bruins are worthy of the award and (in my mind) the best probability to win the Cup.