As 2009 was drawing to a close, we asked Metal Blade Chairman/CEO and huge hockey fan Brian Slagel to write about his favorite pasttime other than metal. While it was only about a third of the way through the season, the teams he picked as the two most fun to watch (The Pittsburgh Penguins and the Washington Capitals) have made it into the playoffs, which means you should probably listen to what he has to say about the sport. With the NHL playoffs beginning tomorrow, here are Slagel’s thoughts on the final 16 and what to look for in the NHL post-season. Do you agree with him? Disagree? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Playoff time in the NHL. Always interesting to see how things unfold.

Last year was a great year for my Pittsburgh Penguins, but it will be very tough to repeat. They open up against Ottawa and should win that series, but it will get tougher. Especially since they did not win the division and will not get home ice after the first round most likely. Now the Washington Capitals had a great regular season and if the goaltending stands up and Ovi does his thing, they will be hard to get by as well. Don’t discount the defense-oriented New Jersey Devils in east either. Ryan Miller should take the Sabres out of the first round, but beyond that it will be the Caps, Devils and Penguins leading the way. Dream conference final would be the Penguins and Caps, but if all 4 top seeds win they play in the next round. My pick is the Caps with the Devils as a dark horse (kinda).

Out west it really will be the wild, wild west during the playoffs. Any team can win any series here and do not be surprised by some upsets. The Sharks are notable playoff busts and the pressure will be on here big time. They draw a young Avalanche team that if goaltender Craig Anderson stays hot, look for an Avs upset. The Red Wings are peaking at the right time and will easily oust the overachieving Coyotes. Both the Blackhawks and Canucks will take them as far as the goaltending will allow. Big question marks in goal for the Hawks and that could lead to their demise. Tough call in the west, and I’ll go for the Blackhawks, but the Wings or Canucks could easily get to the Stanley Cup finals.

Now Hawks vs Caps is my dream series with the Caps winning it all. But the Canucks,  Wings, Pens or Devils could easily win as well…

Should be good as always, enjoy!!