Caps should beat the Leafs in 5 or 6 games at most. It shouldn't take 7. While the Leafs are young and talented they are raw and worse aren't very deep at all.
The Pens vs the Jackets is a bit tough. The Jackets don't have the Crosby kind of forward on their team however they are stout defensively. If they can play good enough to make it difficult for Crosby, Malkin and Kessel they can win the series but I think it is just too tough of a task. I can easily see this series going 7 though. This will be a close series in my mind and will be decided by the 3 game changing forwards of Pittsburg making the Jackets pay for any mistake.
The Rangers and Canadians is going to be a good series to watch as there is still some animosity between the teams. That said if the Canadians are going to win this series either the Rangers have to play sub par (as they are akin to do from time to time) or the Canadians have to play an absolutely superb team game (which is a big thing from any team Julien coaches) because the Canadians simply aren't fast enough, skilled enough, deep enough or physical enough to win this series in my mind. There is only so much team structure and Carey Price can do to win a series. After all statistically the only way the Canadians really improved under Julien was in goals against. Beyond that they were statistically still very middle of the road despite such a great win/loss record. One final point. The Canadians acquiring the more physical defensemen that they have over the past year is for exactly this kind of series.
The Sens and Bruins is likely the least interesting series in the playoffs. Neither team is particularly deep defensively while being somewhat deep up front. That said I think the Bruins have more going for them than the Sens do.
As for the West While I think that Nashville can give the Hawks a run for their money I don't think that they can effectively shut down both Toews' line and Kane's despite the grievous lack of depth that the Hawks have. Outside of Toews' and Kane's lines only 2 other forwards even reached 20 points which is alarming to me for a team so highly touted.
The Wild vs the Blues will be the closest series in the west in my opinion. The Wild is the deeper of the two teams by quite a way but their play down the stretch was rather lackluster. That said they had an absolutely brutal schedule to finish the season. If they can play like they were earlier in the season I don't think the Blues have it in them to keep up. This series will simply be decided by the Wild and how they play in my mind.
The Ducks vs the Flames is all about the Ducks being focused on the game rather than payback. They can't let the injury to Fowler distract them from beating the Flames first. The Flames just don't have the team to keep up with the Ducks up front and will need Elliot to be spectacular if they want to win.
Finally the Sharks vs the Oilers. The Sharks were the worst performing team down the stretch to make the playoffs. They are entering the playoffs with both Thornton and Couture hurt too. I know the Oilers are mighty thin once you get past McDavid but you have to get past McDavid and I am not sure a depleted and poor playing Sharks team can do enough to otherwise overcome McDavid.
As for the rest of the playoffs I think that the Pens can get past the Caps in a close series but I do think the Blue Jackets can also if they can beat the Pens whereas I think whoever wins between the Canadians and Rangers likely has a relatively easy time in the second round. Thus I can see any combination of Pens/Caps/Jackets vs Habs/Rangers as actually possible however to me the most likely is Caps vs Rangers in my mind.
As for out west I don't see any of the other teams in the Ducks bracket being an overly serious challenge to them short of the Ducks not focusing on what they should or unforeseen injuries. As for the Blackhawks vs Blues/Wild I think the Wild can actually upset the Hawks whereas despite the great play relative down the stretch I don't think the Blues have what it takes. If the Wild face the Hawks I would actually put the Wild vs the Ducks as slightly more likely than the Hawks vs Ducks in the Conference finals.
So what two teams am I going to put a prediction on to make the Stanley Cup Finals? The two deepest teams from the start of the season. Wild vs Caps. Nobody else in the NHL can claim that their top 3 centers all had 58 or more points like the Wild can. To boot the Wild then went and got Hanzal to take the 3rd line C spot so Granlund can play wing with Stall and Koivu as the top 2 centers. Hanzal scored at a pace of getting over 50 points in the 3rd line C role had he played the whole season. Sure the Wild may have struggled down the stretch in terms of win/loss record however the team on the whole actually was playing fine statistically with the exception of 5 on 5 goals against. That basically means Dubnyk wasn't playing well and it is true that he wasn't. That said the Caps were tied for first as the hottest team in the last few months leading into the playoffs. That with Ovechkin not even scoring at a high rate. Everything but that was going well for the Caps which makes it hard to come up with anything really negative to say or point out.
So who do I predict will win between the Wild and Caps if they play? The Wild. In the playoffs scoring depth becomes more important the further you go and the Wild are the deepest team in that regard. Any of the Wild's top 3 lines can play against Ovechkin's line and almost cancel it out. The Caps then can't do the same with the other two of the Wild's remaining top lines. Ok sure this prediction all hinges on Dubnyk finding his game but to be frank I wanted to give a more unusual prediction than the normal ones out there and this one I saw as the most likely. I wanted to put something even more different like Rangers or Blue Jackets vs the Wild but I couldn't sell myself on what would need to happen for that to happen.