Every hockey blogger wants to sound off on the Stanley Cup Playoffs–and I’m no different. So here are my thoughts on how Round One will go down.
Western Conference – Wow, look at that. Four Western Conference teams who were golfing last year at this time made it to the postseason in 2010.
Series: San Jose Sharks (1) vs. Colorado Avalanche (8)
My Prediction: Sharks in 7 games.
Comments: The playoffs seem to come with a elf-destruct button for the Sharks each year. Somehow, they manage to be a kick-ass team during the regular season, and then blow it come April. Since the lockout, they have not finished with fewer than 99 points in the regular season. And since the lockout, they have not made it to the conference finals, either.
But the Sharks won’t get eliminated yet. Avalanche goalie Craig Anderson will make this a long, hard fought series, but the Sharks will prevail.
Series: Chicago Blackhawks (2) vs. Nashville Predators (7)
My Prediction: Blackhawks in 5 games.
Comments: For years, the Blackhawks and Predators have fought tooth and nail to be the “not worst” team in the Western Conference. Kind of like the two dorkiest kids in class picking on each other to show everyone else who the cooler kid is. A few years later, and both are contenders.
Well, the ‘Hawks are contenders, anyway. They have a lot of goal scorers–Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp, Marian Hossa, Kris Versteeg and Troy Brouwer have all scored 20 or more goals this season. Only 2 players on the Predators–Patrick Hormqvist and Martin Erat–can claim that.
Series: Vancouver Canucks (3) vs. Los Angeles Kings (6)
My Prediction: Kings UPSET in 6 games.
Comments: I like the Canucks, but goaltender Roberto Luongo has been off his game since the Olympics (where he was very much “on” his game for Team Canada.). The Kings–another team who has turned things around this year–beat the hell out of the Canucks 8-3 a few weeks ago. This series won’t be as easy as that one game was for the Kings, but the playoffs are about upsets. This will be one of them. Speaking of upsets…
Series: Phoenix Coyotes (4) vs. Detroit Red Wings (5)
My Prediction: Red Wings UPSET in 6.
Comments: Though we really can’t call this an upset, can we? Sure, the Coyotes finished the season higher in the standings, but we know that they are really the underdogs here (pun intended). Remember, the Red Wings lacked many of their best players throughout the season due to injuries.
While the Coyotes are way better than they were last year (I fondly recall how red Gretzky’s face would get during a ‘Yotes loss?) they have the misfortune of playing against a healthy Red Wings team.
Eastern Conference– Buffalo and Ottawas are in back in the playoff mix this season. And Montreal got to be the (un)lucky team to squeak in at 8th place. Sucks to be them.
Series: Washington Capitals (1) vs. Montreal Canadiens (8)
My Prediction: Capitals SWEEP in 4 games.
Comments: Alexander Ovhechkin. Nicklas Backstrom. Mike Green. Alexander Semin. Brooks Laich.
Need I say more?
OK, then how about I mention that the Capitals had the best record in the NHL, while the Canadiens haven’t really established who their number one goalie is.
Series: New Jersey Devils (2) vs. Philadelphia Flyers (7)
My Prediction: Flyers UPSET in 6 games.
Comments: I don’t care for the Devils’ style of play. Somehow, they will manage to play boring hockey, even in the playoffs. Fortunately, the Flyers went 4-1-1 against the Devils this year, so winning another 4–even as the lower seed–does not seem far-fetched.
Series:Buffalo Sabres (3) vs. Boston Bruins (6)
My Prediction: Bruins UPSET in 6 games.
Comments: The middle of the regular season seemed so long ago, but weren’t the Bruins in 1st place at one time this year? Weren’t there predictions of a “Bruins vs. Blackhawks” final?
A bit hasty, eh?
But I’m still picking the Bruins to pull an upset here. Sure, Sabres goalie Ryan Miller proved that he’s a world-class goalie in the Olympics, it’s just the team in front of him that I’m not sure about.
Series: Pittsburgh Penguins (4) vs. Ottawa Senators (5)
My Prediction: Penguins SWEEP in 4 games.
Comments: Pens vs. Sens. Yeah, I had to say it.
The Penguins have a lot of firepower up front–namely Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin–and last season, goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury proved that he could perform in high pressure situations. Oh, and the Penguins are the defending Stanley Cup champions too. Yeah, they lost a few players between then and now, but right now they just need to worry about getting past the Senators. Which they will. Easily.
Last year, I correctly picked the series winners 12 out of 15 times–an 80% success rate. Hopefully, I’ll be just as good this year with my picks so I can retain bragging right–and win Captain Canucks’s playoff contest on Waxaholic.