OK everyone, the regular season is behind us and now it’s time for the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs…and it’s also the time to show off your personal playoff prognosticatorial proficiency! Oh, and I checked with my lawyer…it is perfectly legal in the state of Georgia to display your “Quad-P” in public.
So don’t be afraid…don’t be shy. Show it off with pride!
As is customary…I’ll go first.
#1 Boston vs. #8 Montreal:The Bruins finished the regular season 53-19-10 and their 116 points were just one shy of winning the Presidents Cup. Montreal is in with 93 points, winning the tie-breaker with the Florida Panthers. Boston lost the first game between the two 4-3, then took the remaining five by a combined score of 20-9. Andrei Markov being out certainly doesn’t help matters for either the Habs. It’s a re-match of last year’s #1-#8 matchup, only the roles were reversed. Then, the Boston Bruins took the highly favored Canadiens to a seventh game in what was a very entertaining series. Too bad Montreal won’t be able to return the favor.
Boston in 6
#2 Washinton vs. #7 NY Rangers: If I had to pick one series of the eight that screams “sweep”, in my mind it’s this one. The Caps had the third best G/G stat at 3.29, New York scores goals at a 2.44 per game clip, 28th in the NHL. While the Caps sport the NHL’s 2nd-best power play at 25.2%, the Rangers can counter that with their top-rated penalty kill unit, (87.8%). But Washington will dominate them 5 on 5. I hate predicting sweeps, so I’ll give New York one game. But don’t be stunned if it’s over in four.
Washington in 5
#3 New Jersey vs. #6 Carolina: OK, here is my upset special of the opening round. The Canes blow into the post-season winners of eight of their last ten games. The Devils have been mediocre at best these past couple of weeks…and I don’t know if New Jersey can just flip back on the switch against these guys. Also, Carolina has the goaltending that can go toe-to-toe with Marty the Magnificent. The Hurricanes are my “sleeper” pick in the east as I think they’ll go deep. The Canes won the first three matches before the Devils took the last one last Saturday…which was the only time they scored more than twice against the Canes.
Carolina in 6
#4 Pittsburgh vs. #5 Philadelphia: On paper, this is one that looks to be like a knock-down, drag-out slobber-knocker…and I don’t think it’ll dissapoint. They both finished with 99 points but the Penguins get the home ice advantage because of more wins. Pittsburgh won the season series 4-2, but three were one-goal affairs and two were decided by a pair of goals. Philly scored 264 goals this season, Pittsburgh scored 264. The Flyers let up 238 goals, the Pens 239. Can’t get more even-er that that, but I’m gonna go with the Flyers….after 3 overtimes in the deciding seventh game.
Philadelphia in 7
If I’m correct, that would set up round two matchups of Boston vs. Carolina and Washington vs. Philadelphia. Those would be fun and I’d like the Bruins and Caps there.
#1 San Jose vs. #8 Anaheim: The Duck have at least one thing going for them here. They have played the Presidents Cup winning Sharks six times this season with San Jose wining four of them…so they at least aren’t going to be surprised by anything. San Jose, however, didn’t get to a record of 53-18-11 for nothing though. They surrendered only 204 goals, (second best to Boston), and only five times have they lost at home in regulation…Anaheim being one of those teams to accomplish the feat with a 5-2 win in the Shark Tank on April 4.
San Jose in 6
#2 Detroit vs. #7 Columbus: And finally the Columbus Blue Jackets have qualified for the playoffs…and it only took them eight years to do so. Heck, it only took the Thrashers seven. But after the series is over, the CBJs will probably have something Atlanta doesn’t, an actual playoff win… maybe two. Columbus actually split the six games played against Detroit, including an 8-2 whacking of the Wings on March 7. Much like Anaheim, they at least have familiarity of their favored opponents on their side. And much like Anaheim, it won’t really matter against The Big Red Borg.
Detroit in 6
#3Vancouver vs. #6 St. Louis: Ah, more new blood in the playoffs coming from the west. The Blues return to the post-season festivities for the first time since the lockout. They split the four games with the Canucks in which they each one one and lost one on home ice. Their overall road record for these teams are 18-18-5 for the Blues and a very impressive 21-15-5 for the Canucks outside of British Columbia. The goalie matchup should be a good one to watch…Chris Mason, (27-21-7, 2.41 GAA, .916 SV% & 6 SO) vs. Roberto Luongo, (33-13-7, 2.34 GAA, .920 SV% & 9 SO). If for no other reason, that’s why I’d like to see this series go the distance.
Vancouver in 7
#4 Chicago vs. #5 Calgary: The Flames had it all going for them. They had a 13 point lead over Vancouver in February and then picked up Olli Jokinen when Phoenix tossed in the towel at the trade deadline. They then went 8-11-0 down the stretch while the Canucks were getting hot. All they had to do was hold on to a 13-point lead. All they had to do was beat Vancouver last Tuesday…or Edmonton last Friday and they would have won the division, been the three-seed and faced St. Louis with home ice advantage. They didn’t and now they get Chicago and their 46-24-12 record for 104 points with the deciding game seven to be played in the windy city. It won’t come to that anyhow.
Chicago in 6
If the above turns out to be so, then San Jose would draw Chicago in round two while the Red Wings get Vancouver. I’d see the Sharks advancing in a great series with the Blackhawks and Detroit’s goalkeeping woes being exposed by Luongo and the Canucks.
Thus, for the finals I project that this year we’ll get a Stanley Cup Finals that will pit the best team in the east against the best of the west…Sharks vs. Bruins.
There…I’ve shown you mine. Now show me yours.