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NHL Playoff Predictions: Tampa Bay Lightning, Montreal Canadiens Favored in Staff Picks

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Not unsurprisingly, the staff is much more split on the winners out in the Western conference than in the Eastern matchups. Tampa Bay Lightning are the only unanimous winner in the first round among the Defending Big D staff.

Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

The Defending Big D staff weighs in with their playoff predictions. Usually we go by series, but I thought I'd change it up a little bit this year and give you each person's picks in their entirety altogether so that you can blast -- or agree -- with whomever you wish.

Make sure to let us know which one of us is the craziest or out of touch with their first round picks. And if you're looking to bet on these, don't use my picks -- I'm notoriously wrong!

Josh Lile, Managing Editor

EAST
Montreal Canadiens vs. Ottawa Senators
I'm not a huge fan of Montreal, but they have Carey Price and that's enough to beat Ottawa in 5.  Montreal in 5.

Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Detroit Red Wings
Your eventual Stanley Cup Champion knocks Detroit off in 6. Tampa in 6.

New York Rangers vs. Pittsburgh Penguins
Pittsburgh is lucky they even have the privilege to get swept by the Rangers. Rangers in 4.

Washington Capitals vs. New York Islanders
The Islanders are legit. Solid all around team. Islanders in 6.

WEST
St. Louis Blues vs. Minnesota Wild
It pains me to pick Minnesota, but they'd be a higher seed if they had Dubnyk all year. Minny in 6.

Nashville Predators vs. Chicago Blackhawks
Nashville is destined to make the Finals with that defense and a healthy Rinne. Nashville in 6.

Anaheim Ducks vs. Winnipeg Jets
It's hard to pick a team that might use Ondrej Pavelec to win a playoff series, but here we are. Jets roll in 5.

Vancouver Canucks vs. Calgary Flames
This will be the most entertaining series of the first round. Johnny Gaudreau lights Vancouver up. Flames in 7.

Erin Bolen, Editor

EAST
Montreal vs. Ottawa
The battle of the goaltending luckdragons comes down on the side of the better goalie, and even the Senators unreasonable streak can't hang on. Montreal in 6.

Tampa vs. Detroit
The Wings are the ageless wonders of the Eastern Conference, but the speed and skill of Tampa is too much. Tampa in 5.

Rangers vs. Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh only hung on because the Bruins fell apart even harder. Rangers in 4.

Washington vs. Islanders
The best series of the East's first round, two teams that can and will score should light up the coast. Capitals in 7.

WEST
St. Louis vs. Minnesota
The exact opposite of the Caps/Isles series, except Devin Dubnyk's groin is due to explode any day now. St. Louis in 6.

Nashville vs. Chicago
I can't hate the Predators as much as many, but Rinne hasn't been as good in the back half, and the Hawks simply have too much skill. Hawks in 6.

Anaheim vs. Winnipeg
Do I have to pick someone? Ducks in 7.

Vancouver vs. Calgary
As much as I'd prefer happiness for the Flames fanbase in this scenario, their goaltending isn't good enough to sustain the poor possession. Canucks in 5.

Taylor Baird, Editor

Montreal vs. Ottawa 
Ottawa won't go quietly into the night, but Montreal's fire power will see that they do go. Montreal in 6.

Tampa vs. Detroit
I don't think that Detroit can keep up with the Lightning's pace, but Detroit's playoff experience will push this series further than it would probably go otherwise. Tampa Bay in 7.

Rangers vs. Pittsburgh 
New York's tight defense and Pittsburgh's fall to earth bode well for the Rangers to possibly repeat. Rangers in 5.

Washington vs. Islanders 
I like the offensive ability of both teams, but I think Holtby is going to ride his great season to a series win. Capitals in 7.

WEST
St. Louis vs. Minnesota
I think this series will be the least exciting of them all. In an absolute snooze-fest, Blues in 6.

Nashville vs. Chicago 
This series should be won for the adorable six-year-old who smack-talked me throughout the entirety of the Predators game while I was in Nashville. Just for Jackson, I'm going with Nashville in 7.

Anaheim vs. Winnipeg 
I know Winnipeg's fans have suffered immensely, but Anaheim is just too good not to get out of the first round. Anaheim in 6.

Vancouver vs. Calgary 
Calgary continues to do what they did all season long when everyone wrote them off. Calgary in 6.

Huw Wales, Staff Writer

EAST
Montreal vs. Ottawa 
It's a battle of goalies here so I might as well make a bold prediction. My gut instinct says the Hamburgler will just keep rolling. Senators in 6.

Tampa Bay vs. Detroit
Tampa are pretty good while Detroit stumbled over the finishing line. Lightning in 6.

Rangers vs. Pittsburgh
I think the Rangers are just going to overwhelm the Penguins and the Pens are nursing an injured blueline. Rangers in 5.

Washington vs. Islanders
The Islanders upgraded and its shown this season; despite a red hot Ovechkin it's going to be a long series. But I think the Islanders will outlast the Capitals. Islanders in 7.

WEST
St. Louis vs. Minnesota
The St Louis Blues are just too good and even with Dubnyk the Wild won't be able to hold them up for long. Blues in 5.

Nashville vs. Chicago
Despite the Blackhawks getting Kane back they can't fend off the Preds; the Predators blueline is just too deep. Predators in 6.

Anaheim vs. Winnipeg
Winnipeg turned on the jets down the stretch, forgive the pun, and I think they may give the Ducks a lot of trouble. The Jets will eek it out in seven. Jets in 7.

Vancouver vs. Calgary
I think the Canucks have too much talent for the Flames and the Flames are going to really miss Mark Giordano. Canucks in 5.

Robert Tiffin, Staff Writer

EAST
Montreal vs. Ottawa
Subban and Karlsson are similar, but Carey Price>every other goalie.  Habs in 6.

Tampa Bay vs. Detroit
Tampa is offensively elite whereas Detroit is old and trusting their backup.  Bolts in 4.

Rangers vs. Pittsburgh
The Rangers are every bit as good as advertised, but Crosby and Malkin won't go quietly.  Rangers in 7.

Washington vs. Islanders
Could be the most exciting series in the East, but we know what happens when offense lacks goaltending. Caps in 7.

WEST
St. Louis vs. Minnesota
This should be the highlight of the first round.  Never bet against Dubnyk.  Minny in 6.

Nashville vs. Chicago
Watching the Hawks with Kane will be a playoff privilege as always.  Hawks in 5.

Anaheim vs. Winnipeg
Let's see...oh, this one.  Yeah, okay.  Jets in 6, and Ducks disband as a franchise and move to Seattle.

Vancouver vs. Calgary
We all want to see Glen Gulutzan hoist the Cup, right?  Right.  The Orcas in 7 with >50 goals scored.

Derek Neumeier, Staff Writer

EAST
Montreal v Ottawa
Ottawa's run to make the playoffs was remarkable, but Price will steal the show in round one. Canadiens in 6.

Tampa Bay vs. Detroit
Tampa is strong in all three main areas, while Detroit seems to be falling apart at the worst time. Lightning in 5.

Rangers vs. Pittsburgh
New York is the best team in the league right now, and something's just been off with the Pens this season. Rangers in 5.

Washington vs. Islanders
This series is going to go down to the wire, but Holtby will be the difference-maker. Capitals in 7.

WEST
St. Louis vs. Minnesota
These two teams play similar styles, but St. Louis has a little more experience on their side. Blues in 7.

Nashville vs. Chicago
Chicago has the second best defense in the league and Nashville's offense isn't going to be good enough to crack it. Blackhawks in 5.

Anaheim vs. Winnipeg
The MTS Centre will be rockin' for every Winnipeg home game, but Anaheim is more seasoned and has more composure. Ducks in 6.

Vancouver vs. Calgary
This will be THE series to watch in the first round. Both teams will leave it all on the ice, but Vancouver will be the better team. Canucks in 7.

Wesley Lawrence, Staff Writer (and soon-to-be new father to a future Stars fan!)

EAST
Montreal vs. Ottawa
Max Pacioretty's "Upper Body Injury" is one of the first round's major question marks. That said, Carey Price should be enough. Montreal in 5.

Tampa Bay vs. Detroit
The Bolts won't have to play musical chairs with their goalie this season. They're a contender, Detroit is creaking. Tampa Bay in 6.

Rangers vs. Pittsburgh
The Pens are another mash unit these days. Their D is a mess. Unless Malkin and Crosby channel their inner Jamie Benns, this could be a short series. Penguins in 6.

Washington vs. Islanders
This should be an exciting series. The Islanders are an emerging heavyweight, but Washington's firepower makes them frisky. New York in 7.

WEST
St. Louis vs. Minnesota
Devin Dubnyk? Really? I'd feel a lot more confident in the Blues if Shattenkirk wasn't just coming back, or if Tarasenko wasn't banged up, but they're too good. Blues in 7.

Nashville vs. Chicago
The Kane injury sinks Chicago. Nashville wins a slugfest. Predators in 6

Anaheim v Winnipeg
The Ducks aren't as vulnerable as people say. They've got enough to handle the Jets. Anaheim in 6.

Vancouver v Calgary
I don't understand how the Flames have made it this far, but I also thought the ‘Nucks were circling the drain this season. Flames in 7.