It’s again time to show your personal playoff prognosticalorial proficiency

The temperature is getting warmer…the pollen count is off the chart…we are having to mow the lawns again…the kids have finished their spring break…the Braves are playing games for real once more…the Hawks are gearing up for their third straight playoff appearance…and Don Waddell is once again making statements that express his belief he’ll be back for another stint as Thrashers GM, dispite yet another season that ended after 82 games.

Will this be the year Washington and Alex Ovechkin skate away with the Cup? (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Will this be the year Washington and Alex Ovechkin skate away with the Cup? (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Yes folks…it’s that time of year again. We’ve finally come to the part of the season that is normally reserved for teams other than the Atlanta Thrashers…the Stanley Cup Playoffs. As such, here is your chance to show us what you think will play out over the course of the first round by showing us your personal playoff prognosticalorial proficiency.

And as I told you last spring…yes, that is perfectly legal to do in the state of Georgia.

Let everyone know who you like and who you’ll be following in the coming weeks. Also, I would also like to know at this time which team you believe will eventually skate away with the Cup in June.

Caps vs. Habs - Your pick?

  • Capitals (96%, 128 Votes)
  • Montreal (4%, 6 Votes)

Total Voters: 134

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Me…I’m going with the Caps over Chicago, probably in six games. Washington has never let its foot off the throttle, even after wrapping up the Southeast Division, then the Eastern Conference top seed…and most recently, the President’s Cup. They have seven 20+ goal scorers…and then Mike Green with 19…so they’re not just Ovechkin & Co. coming into the post-season.

They are as balanced as the come up front…thus their league-high 3.82 G/G… and I think that will overcome whatever shortcomings they might elsewhere.

The Caps boast the leagues best power play, (25.2%)…so if anyone does have any hopes of knocking off the Caps, I would suggest staying out of the sin-bin.

Oh, and don’t you just know Jose Theodore is looking forward to being able to knock the Habs out the playoffs…which he and the Caps will do in five games seeing that they’ve drawn the short end of the stick and have to face Washington in round-one.

Devils vs. Flyers - Your pick?

  • #2 NJ (84%, 111 Votes)
  • #7 Philly (16%, 21 Votes)

Total Voters: 132

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Elsewhere in the east, given the fact that there is really such a gap between the top seeds and the bottom, I’m not calling for any upsets here.

Philadelphia will enter into their series with New Jersey having won their way in by way of a 2-1 shootout victory over the Rangers Sunday afternoon. They are led on offense by Brian Richard’s team-high 62 points, (31goals & 31 assists), Jeff Carter’s team high 33 goals and Chris Pronger’s 45 assists. Philly will be looking to Brian Boucher, (9-18-3, .899 SV% & 2.76 GAA), to keep them in this series.

But the Devils are the better team here, led by Zach Parise’s 38 goals and 44 assists. Ilya Kovalchuk scored 10 goals and 17 assists in the 27 games since the trade for New Jersey and was a +9.

Pens vs. Sens - Your pick?

  • # 4 Pittsburgh (64%, 84 Votes)
  • #5 Ottawa (36%, 47 Votes)

Total Voters: 131

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Besides, I will never bet against any team that has in it’s arsenal a goalie like Martin Brodeur, (45-25-6, 2.24 GAA, .916 SV% & 9 SO)…so I’ll take them in six over Philly.

The Thrashers played a part in Pittsburgh finishing second in the Atlantic Division thanks to the 1-0 season finale for Atlanta. Thus, the Pens take the fourth seed in the east and face the Ottawa Senators, who are led by Daniel Alfredsson, (20 goals, 51 assists & +8). Mike Fisher’s 25 goals were tops for the Sens who finished the season 7-2-1.

Sidney Crosby, as I’m sure you heard, tied Tampa Bay’s Steve Stamkos for the NHL goal title at 51…Sid also chipped in with 58 assists as well and was a +15. Evgeni Malkin netted 28 goals and 49 assists.

MAF enters into the first round with a regular season record of 37-21-6, 2.65 GAA & .905 SV%.

I think Pittsburgh gets by Ottawa in…oh, let’s go with six as well.

Sabres vs. Bruins - Your pick?

  • #3 Buffalo (65%, 85 Votes)
  • #6 Boston (35%, 45 Votes)

Total Voters: 130

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If there is a chance for an upset in the east, you might find it in the 3-6 matchup between Buffalo and Boston. The Sabres… led by Derek Roy’s 26 goals and Tim Connolly’s 48 assists… have been banged up a bit and Boston had to fight-claw-scratch their way in and might be riding a high.

But in the end I’ll side with the Sabres in seven games if for no other reason than goaltending. Ryan Miller… who finished the year 41-18-8, 2.22 GAA & .929 SV%… I think will pull them through.

Out west… now this is where we could see some fun.

Like I said, I think Chicago comes out of the Western Conference and will begin by slipping past Nashville in six games. This will be the first time Nashville will play someone other than Detroit or San Jose in the post-season and I think they’ll put up a fight but Chicago should take this in a low-scoring affair…if their regular season series means anything. Look for lots of 2-1 or 3-2 kinda games.

Hawks vs. Preds - Your pick?

  • #2 Chicago (86%, 107 Votes)
  • #7 Nashville (14%, 18 Votes)

Total Voters: 125

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And let’s not forget, if indeed the Hawks do come out of the west and lose to the Caps…or anyone else for that matter…in the SCF, then that will make Marian Hossa a bride’s maid for the third straight year for three different teams. Not sure if that’s happened to anyone before or not.

The Avs are a great story this season…out of the playoffs last year, made some changes, benefited from drafting Matt Duchene, then the pickup of Craig Anderson, (38-25-7 with a 2.63 GAA, .917 SV% and 7 shutouts) in goal helped as well.

San Jose won the top seed in the conference and as such will take on the Colorado Avalanche. This should go the Sharks way as they enter into the playoffs fairly healthy.

Sharks vs. Avs - Your pick?

  • #1 San Jose (81%, 101 Votes)
  • #8 Colorado (19%, 23 Votes)

Total Voters: 124

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Colorado’s 2.89 G/G is the forth best out west, so they can gun with the Sharks. Could be a high scoring, fun series.

I’ll be rooting for the Avs…but I take San Jose in five.

Detroit and Phoenix looks to be an interesting matchup…and I am like most people are looking for a 5-4 upset. The Wings were fighting for their playoff lives not too long ago but started looking again like the Big Red Borg when it counts most, going an remarkable 17-3-2 down the stretch…

ahem…Now that is what’s known as a March to the Playoffs.

The Coyotes are making their first post-season appearance since 2002 and are another great story this season…especially given their trials and tribulations last summer. Very balanced on the attack, they have eight players with 30 or more points and another with 29…led by Shane Doan’s 55 overall points and Radim Vrbata’s 24 goals.

Coyotes vs. Wings - Your pick?

  • #4 Phoenix (42%, 52 Votes)
  • #5 Detroit (58%, 73 Votes)

Total Voters: 125

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Ilya Bryzgalov was an impressive 42-20-6 with a 2.29 GAA, .920 SV% and 8 shutouts. He could keep Phoenix in this series.

This is another one of those series in which I will be pulling for the team I predict will eventually lose in six games.

And then there is Vancouver and Los Angeles…two teams separated by just three points. The Kings have a great chance to pull a 3-6 upset here…especially if they get more outstanding work from Jonathan Quick in the nets. He finished the year 39-24-7 with a 2.54 GAA and .907 SV% with 4 shutouts.

The Kings are led by Anze Kopitar’s 34 goals and 81 points while Drew Doughty …the player picked just before Zach Bogosian in the 2008 draft…will be getting his first taste of the playoff life, so it will be interesting to watch the kid perform on the big stage.

Henrik Sedin led the NHL in points with 112 and his brother Daniel is currently on a 10-game points streak…in fact in his last 22 games he has failed to notch a point only once. Alex Burrows had 35 goals to lead the Canucks in that department.

Canucks vs. Kings - Your pick?

  • #3 Vancouver (62%, 78 Votes)
  • #6 Los Angeles (38%, 48 Votes)

Total Voters: 126

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Roberto Luongo went 40-22-4 with a 2.57 GAA and .913 SV% as well as 4 SO.

This series could be decided on the road. The Kings were 22-13-6 in L.A. while the Canucks were 30-8-3 in Vancouver. However, L.A. was a very impressive road team, going 24-14-3 while away from Los Angeles while Vancouver had a losing mark on the road…19-20-2.

So I think we’ll look for the Kings to steal one of the first two in British Columbia… and then go on to win in seven fun-packed games.

Could the Stanley Cup Finals end for the third year in a row with Marian Hossa left staring at the ice for answers (AP Photo/Charles Cherney)

Could the Stanley Cup Finals end for the third year in a row with Marian Hossa left staring at the ice for answers? (AP Photo/Charles Cherney)

So to recap…I see the Caps, Devils, Penguins and Sabres advancing in the east. If so, we’ll have a round two that will see Washington and Pittsburgh squaring off in Sid vs. Ovie II and the Sabres and Devils providing a matchup that pits two of my favorite keepers against one another.

Out west, I like the Sharks to have to deal with the Kings in round two as well as the Red Wings facing off against Chicago in what should be one hum-dinger of a series.

113 comments Add your comment

Badger Bob

April 14th, 2010
12:01 pm

Well said, glovesave! Bring back the MOOOOOOOSE!

Badger Bob

April 14th, 2010
12:07 pm

Our coaching purge has my buddies in Calgary screaming even harder for a purge there…

World Be Free

April 14th, 2010
12:09 pm

Hey guys, thanks for your “Moose thoughts”. Nice numbers Badger, shows how good Johan was this season. I agree on bringing him back, maybe as player-coach.

Looking for some LAC, Smoothie, Brendan and Stroz input today-their individual takes should be interesting.

Joe Friday

April 14th, 2010
12:32 pm

World, I would love to believe your “this is Dudley’s team now” but the facts belie that. He still reports to the same guy, they just reshuffled the deck chairs on the SS Thrashers

Savannah Blueland Fan

April 14th, 2010
12:40 pm

BREAKING NEWS–Buffalo wins the Stanley Cup. Unconfirmed reports indicate that Ryan Miller celebrated the win by dancing on the front lawn of an Ontario resident believed to be a Sidney Crosby. Mr. Crosby claimed Miller was chanting “suck on this, crybaby!” while making obscene gestures with his hands.

In other hockey news, Ilya Kovulchuk signed a 25 year, $735 million deal with the Atlanta Thrashers. Newly installed president Don Waddell explained that trading him last season was part of an elaborate plan to deflect rising fan venom against his tenure as GM. With the team’s ultimate nosedive, the coaching staff would be sacrificed. Quotes Kovulchuk, “Don say it good plan. He happy; I happy. He make more money; I make more money. Wife happy… Poof!

What happened? Where am I? I must have fallen asleep in front of the computer again. I had the strangest dream. Parts of it were awful. But some of it was beautiful. You were there! And you, and you,…and you! But it doesn’t matter anymore because we’re home now, Toto. And there’s no place like home!

World Be Free

April 14th, 2010
12:44 pm

Joe-I understand where you are coming from.

But Dudley would not take this job unless he had a certain amount of control. I am hanging my hat on that. So many people are still focusing on Don Waddell. We need to get past that, cause this is good news.

How much control? The coaches Don hired are gone today. This is Dudley’s first move and there will be more.

Smoothie

April 14th, 2010
12:50 pm

WBF – I’ve been on C-Viv’s blog and even chimed in on Schultz’s blog. He was actually fair and even-handed in his take on this situation. Obviously I am quite happy we are moving forward with these changes. Any kind of change is better than the status quo right now. Down the stretch, I lost faith in Anderson and his “system”…coaches aren’t supposed to make as many excuses as that man did when other teams simply shut us down. 16 goals scored in the last 10 games says it all. He never could seem to make the adjustments that would cut down on shots allowed and help us maintain puck possession at the other end. While it’s good to have a counter-attacking fast break, hockey is a game of puck possession and Anderson’s methodology for such was too risky.

As you know from our many conversations, I’m a big fan of Duds as well. Not so much as a player because he was a bit before my time, but his track record in assessing talent and building teams from distressed cellar-dwellars to contenders is pretty damn solid. I can only hope that the look on Waddell’s face from the post-season interview was one of pure resignation and realization that this really is and will be Rick Dudley’s show. He had the look of a man who was told to take a hike in the form of a “promotion” until he retires in a few years. For some reason, Levenson and Gearon feel indebted to that man and we can only hope they are committed to letting Dudley have free reign. The coaching hire should be tell-tale. Getting a guy like Craig MacTavish who coaches the way Dudley played and would coach is certainly a step in the RIGHT direction.

Smoothie

April 14th, 2010
12:54 pm

Oh dear, I may have to reconsider my first choice for coach due to the potential for utterly bad karma:

From wiki:

“MacTavish missed the 1984–85 season after being convicted of vehicular homicide, having struck and killed a young woman while he was driving under the influence of alcohol. MacTavish pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide and driving under the influence of alcohol in an accident the night of January 25, 1984 in Peabody, Massachusetts. Kim Radley, 26, of West Newfield, Maine, died four days later of injuries sustained in the crash.[5] MacTavish spent a year in jail as punishment for this offence. While incarcerated, he watched most of the games that were televised. After MacTavish was released from prison, the Bruins offered to let him out of his contract. MacTavish accepted.”

Alan R.

April 14th, 2010
12:59 pm

In the middle of all this good news…

… Evander Kane made an appearance on Boston radio this morning. The audio of that interview should be buried somewhere in here.

Alan R.

April 14th, 2010
1:10 pm

An update to my previous post, the Evander Kane interview appears about 1/3 of the way into the “Hour 2″ part of the podcast linked on the site..

World Be Free

April 14th, 2010
1:15 pm

Thanks smoothie-I saw your posts on Viv’s blog, I didn’t go to Schultz’s cause I just ate lunch and that loser makes me sick.

I am not sure who Dudley will hired as coaches. Never been a MacTavish fan and I remember when he got in trouble in Boston. Dudely has been around a long time, I am sure he’ll make the right call.

I wonder what EJ McGuire thinks about all this? EJ is the head of NHL Central Scouting, a South Buffalo boy who grew up a Sabres fan in the 70’s like me. Betcha he likes this move.

Sorry guys, but I am such a Duds fan I can’t even work today.

Bluenote

April 14th, 2010
1:24 pm

Some accountability. What welcome news.

Agree that JA was a nice guy, but just never saw him making the AHL/NHL jump as successfully as his bud Bruce Bodreau. Too bad, because I was rooting for him for a long time.

Of course if she had Alex Ovechkyn and a stacked lineup I imagine my dog could do fairly well coaching in the NHL….even without opposable thumbs.

The number of flat starts and phone-it-in periods this season was unacceptable. Sorry coach, it’s an unforgiving business…..even here apparently. While I don’t think a maniac like Tortorella is the answer a little more screaming and furniture chucking was in order this season. Sadly, shrugs and Droopy Dawg postgame interviews was what we got. JA might be a nice guy to play for, but nobody ever seemed to fear him

Best wishes Randy. You’re a class act and a hard worker. You’ll land in a good place.

Adios Stevie! Time for a change here. I’d sure love to see us hang on to some character and work ethic with Moose as a player or as a coach. The Nabakov thread scares me. Haven’t we learned anything from building around a Russian superstar?

Now, where can I get my Kane/Cook commemorative T-shirt?
Memo to ASG: you’ll sell a TON of them if they’re in the shop next year.
Operators are standing by…..

R. Stroz

April 14th, 2010
1:33 pm

My take:

1) not entirely unexpected, yet pleasantly surprised

2) Weekes is finally gone.

3) Waddell serves as a go between owners and GM. Waddell is the salesman for Dudley’s plans. Waddell provides the polish for Dudley, so Dudley doesn’t deal with ownership directly. Otherwise, Dudley would probably use his knuckles to polish ownership.

4) Waddell is rewarded for towing the company budget.

5) Dudley has spent the last year picking his team.

6) The era of excuses just left the building.

That’s my first take.