The predictions are coming in for the first round of the NHL playoffs, and just about everywhere you go, confidence is high that the Chicago Blackhawks will beat the Nashville Predators. Looking at predictions from the biggest national outlets around, not many believe the Predators will knock the Blackhawks out.
At NHL.com, 20 of their 21 editors and writers predict the Blackhawks will beat the Predators. The only one calling an upset is Arpon Basu. In fact, 18 pick the Blackhawks to win the Western Conference, and nine have them winning the Stanley Cup. The league’s official site is very much on board the Hawks train.
It’s an even more extreme story at ESPN, where all 12 of their analysts have the Blackhawks advancing. Two of them even have the Predators getting knocked out in five. At USA Today, two of their writers pick the Blackhawks in seven, while one picks the Predators in six.
Continuing the pattern, the Washington Post’s Neil Greenberg has the Hawks winning in five, and TSN’s Scott Cullen has them winning in seven. Sportsnet asked four analysts for their brackets, and only one, Andrew Berkshire, picked the Predators to get out of the first round alive. All six analysts at TVA Sports pick the Hawks.
So the narrative has been set for the first round between the Blackhawks and Predators. Everyone expects Chicago to win, and while that shouldn’t be unexpected in a No. 1 vs. No. 8 matchup, it’s still a little surprising how strongly the mainstream tide has swung in the Blackhawks’ direction. Of the 48 writers sampled here, 45 of them picked the Hawks. If they lose in the first round for the second straight season, it’s going to be considered a major upset.