Wednesday, April 09, 2008
Picking winners in the NHL playoffs can be a real mug's game. I could have the big fella pick and the little guy and I would very likely finish third in that three horse race. TSN of course takes it to the limit by having a monkey and the village idiot pick series' winners. A couple of years back the monkey ended up with the best record overall.
Two years back I was seven and eight with the final being the tipping point into Loserville. Last year I went ten and five but that was a low mark in a year where favourites pretty well ruled the day. Trying to be clever I ended up picking against the grain a few times and losing. Sort if like Jerry Krause picking longshot bum after longshot bum to try and prove that Pippen wasn't a fluke and he was a genius.
Problem with the playoffs is all it takes is a simple break here or there. A dicey call, Niedermeyer glances a shot off of Lidstrom with the Wings less then a minute away from victory and it goes to OT. Ducks win and a game later the Wings are gone.
Williams' stick catches Koivu exactly wrong, Jay McKee gets a staph infection, Ladd picks off Roloson just the wrong way. Roloson robs Cheechoo and Horcoff gets the triple OT winner. In G7 the Oilers fail to clear the puck twice and it ends up in their net. The Oilers fail to score on a 5 on 3, Pisani gets stoned with 6 minutes left. You know the story.
By this point there is not a lot to choose from between the teams. Parity is making the gap between top and bottom closer and in a couple of years the eighth place team in each conference will likely be only a few points out of the top spot. Having said that I think the Ducks are the favourite with the Wings and Sharks the other teams with a shot at it. I actually would not mind seeing the Habs do it but I think whoever comes out of the East will be fodder again. I'm pulling for either Montreal or the Avs to go all the way but in both cases its unlikely.
Montreal-Boston - Even with their injuries Montreal is the superior team. They lack experience but Carbonneau is a guy I trust behind the bench. Habs in five.
Pens - Sens - Senators have terrible goaltending and have lost their three grittiest players. Without Alfredsson, Neil and Fisher they will be lucky to win a game. Pens have goaltending questions but they will fill Gerber or Emery. Pens in five.
Caps-Flyers - Interesting matchup. If I were commisioner I would fold the Southeast Division but I would let the Caps live if they went back to their 70s' unis. Flyers will try and play Ovechkin tough but they have to catch him. Flyers looked done just a while back - I say Caps in seven. This is the one pick that I'm going to regret, I know it.
Rangers-Devils - I would never pick the Devils. Weird because the whole team first ethos, hard working etc etc is appealing plus they are long past Trapville. Still I hate them and the Rangers are a pretty good club, I think. Better goaltending and deep up front and on the back end. Rangers in six, maybe five.
Wings - Preds - Wings will go down to the Sharks or Ducks methinks, once again they are a very good team but their point totals were inflated by divisional play. According to Matt Fenwick they did have an excellent record v the other playoff teams in the west. Anyways they knock the Preds out in five. No problem here.
Sharks - Flames - Good Flames or bad Flames? Who knows? Sharks have to go far or change is coming and I wonder if they are the Sens redux. Guess we will find out. I think we'll know early on if its Flames circa 2004 or 2007. I think its in between and the Sharks do them in in six.
Wild - Avs - After I contract the Southeast the Devils and Wild are next. All kidding aside the Wild have lost Foster and Schultz while the Avs look to be finally healthy. Too much firepower and a whack of Avs who know this may be their last shot. Avs in six as they try and win a cup for Smytty.
Ducks - Dallas - I wish both could be eliminated. Perry being out hurts Anaheim but Zubov being out hurts Dallas more. Plus Giguere or Turco? Turco was great last year but I think Giguere is likely the best goalie in the tournament. Ducks in five boring low scoring games.
This year will be a true test of karma. I went heavy with Ducks in my pool which would usually mean that they would get swept in the first round. But I loathe any team south of the border that entered the league after the Sharks (including Carolina and Dallas). Plus the Devils.
So it will likely be Devils/Wild and I will lose out both ways.
Posted by Black Dog at 6:45 PM