2017 NHL playoffs: Penguins' demise among five bold first-round predictions

Coming soon to an ice rink, TV, or mobile device near you: The 2016-17 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The first-round matchups start Wednesday night. And in the spirit of welcoming the unpredictable as 16 teams journey toward a championship, here are five bold predictions for the first round:

1. Alex Ovechkin will score at least a point in every game vs. Toronto

Mr. Olympics doesn't have the most sterling playoff reputation, even if it's the Capitals -- not Alex alone -- who have struggled to live up to regular-season hype. But an assist here and a goal there, a couple more here and there, and a point a game against Toronto's bottom-of-the-NHL defense is realistic.

2. The Penguins will drop seven on the Blue Jackets ...

Hold onto your hats. We all know the defending Stanley Cup champions can score, but to drop seven on a top-two defense would be something, even Sidney Crosby and his gang of goal scorers.

3. ... and the Blue Jackets will shut out the Penguins to win the series

Any Pittsburgh momentum fostered from a seven-goal performance goes out the window once Sergei Bobrovsky gets his head back on straight and the Blue Jackets claim a first-round victory, upsetting a high-flying, albeit severely overworked and banged-up, Pens team.

4. Blackhawks and Predators will combine to score 11 goals in one game

A 6-5 final, advantage Chicago, would do the trick, in case you're like me and don't like to do the math. With Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Filip Forsberg and Viktor Arvidsson on the same ice, things will go down.

5. San Jose will go up 2-0 on the road but lose the series to the Oilers

The Sharks finished the regular season with a sub-.500 road record if you count overtime losses as losses, which they are, so taking two straight games in Edmonton would be bold. But Connor McDavid is not going to let the Sharks do the Oilers any more damage as Edmonton will advance in its first playoff trip in 10 years.

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