Sunday, April 11, 2010
You may have noticed this hockey blog has been dormant through the most important stretch of the season. Between moving, getting a new job, and looking for a new place to live once again, I haven't had much energy to post here. But that's going to change...sort of.
Now that the regular season has ended, and the playoff match-ups are set, I'm returning for some short, tossed-off, completely-ill-advised predictions for Stanley Cup Playoffs Round 1. Here we go:
1. Washington (121 points) vs. Montreal (88 points)
This one is pretty much going to be a joke. Jose Theodore will be out for blood against his old team, and he hasn't lost a game in regulation since January. A solid Theodore for the Caps is not something the rest of the league wants to see this postseason. Watching the Canadiens get swept for a second-straight season will bring me much joy. WASHINGTON IN FOUR.
2. New Jersey (103 points) vs. Philadelphia (88 points)
The Flyers had a really messed-up season. They fired their coach, played with no consistency, suffered some significant injuries, and getting to the postseason took a shootout victory against the Rangers on Sunday. New Jersey wants to prove their unexpectedly strong regular season wasn't a fluke. Marty Brodeur needs to get over several years of playoff disappointment, and with Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk leading the way up front, the Devils will get it done. NEW JERSEY IN FIVE.
3. Buffalo (100 points) vs. Boston (91 points)
Speaking of messed-up seasons, hey look, it's the Bruins! Who knows if half their defensive core will be healthy, or if they'll actually score against Vezina front-runner and American hero Ryan Miller. But dammit, I've got faith. Tuukka Rask can elevate his game, Mark Recchi and crew can grind their way to goals, and it's not like the Sabres are a juggernaut. This can happen. I'm going to keep telling myself that until I actually believe it. BOSTON IN SEVEN.
4. Pittsburgh (101 points) vs. Ottawa (94 points)
Let's be real here. Does anyone actually expect the Penguins to lose this series? Sure, they didn't have the most incredible regular season. But they're the defending champs, with Washington potentially waiting for them in the next round and they're playing a pretty nondescript Senators club. They just lost Alex Kovalev and I honestly can't tell you who their starting goalie is. This isn't going to be close. PITTSBURGH IN FIVE.
1. San Jose (113 points) vs. 8. Colorado (95 points)
Why do I think the Sharks secretly wanted to avoid the stigma of winning yet another conference regular season crown? And why do I think they're secretly scared shitless to play a young Avs team with nothing to lose? Throw in the Spring Suck Troika of Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Evgeni Nabokov and there's a recipe for disaster here. It's going to happen. Again. COLORADO IN SEVEN.
2. Chicago (112 points) vs. 7. Nashville (100 points)
The second Cristobal Huet starts playing like...umm...Cristobal Huet in the playoffs, Joel Quenneville cannot hesitate to go to Antti Niemi as the playoffs wear on. Chicago is a force from top to bottom, but goaltending is the only thing that's holding them back. I don't think that's going to be a problem against Shea Weber and the Predators this time around. CHICAGO IN FIVE.
3. Vancouver (103 points) vs. 6. Los Angeles (101 points)
The rebuilding in L.A. came earlier than some expected (myself included), and with Drew Doughty and Jack Johnson digging in front of Jon Quick they have a real chance to make a run this year. That said, I like the Canucks a lot thanks to their experience and balanced attack. With the Sedins rolling like they have all season and Roberto Luongo ready to prove the doubters wrong, Vancouver will pull out a tough series. VANCOUVER IN SIX.
4. Phoenix (107 points) vs. 5. Detroit (102 points)
No one wanted to draw Detroit in the first round of the playoffs. No one. They are fully healthy and playing their absolute best hockey right, and that's a dangerous thing for a team this talented. The Coyotes are a feel-good story, and Ilya Bryzgalov could steal the series on his own. But it's hard to doubt a Mike Babcock-coached team that's playing this well in April. DETROIT IN SIX.
I'll try to check in after each round. But don't hold your breath. Enjoy the playoffs.