NHL insiders predict each first-round series

The Rangers and Canadiens are set to lock horns in a first-round battle. Who do an NHL head coach, general manager, All-Star player, assistant coach and scout see winning each first-round series? Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

Nothing gets fans more riled up than predictions. Pick against their favorite team and you’re an idiot. Do it too often and there’s clearly a bias. And if you’re wrong? Get ready for screen shots on Twitter.

It’s fun. It’s all part of what makes this time of year the best. But why hog all the good times?

Traditionally in this space each year, I explain each of my first-round series picks -- you can find them all right here. But this year, we’re changing it up. In the place of my own picks, I’ve asked a panel of five from those inside the game to pick each series so we can get additional insight, a majority for each series and help fill out a bracket.

The panel: NHL head coach, NHL general manager, All-Star player, NHL assistant coach, NHL scout.

Their picks:

Western Conference

Chicago Blackhawks vs. Nashville Predators

Predicted winner: Blackhawks (5-0)

This played out the same way a lot of media predictions have for this series. Everyone expects a close series, and when it’s close, experience gets the edge.

“I’m fine with Nashville, too,” the head coach said. “I just think in the end [the Blackhawks] know how to win. What’s knowing how to win? I don’t know. Their elite players are such good players. I wouldn’t pick against them.”

“Blackhawks. One word: Proven,” the GM said.

[Jonathan] Toews found his game over the second half of his year and that mirrored their run at the end. They’re still the Blackhawks. Never seem to panic. Always think they’re going to win,” the assistant said.

“Chicago away from their big guys is an ordinary team, but their big guys are so epic, it’s tough to bet against them,” the scout said.