Monday, April 13, 2009
Every year I take a whirl at this and usually I do pretty well, although I certainly don't blow the doors off of everybody. This year has a lot of potential to be an interesting one. I think that there are three favourites - Detroit, San Jose and Vancouver and I could also see none of the three making it out of the first round. Yeah it might be one of those years. And yeah I can sit on the fence with the best of them. ;)
I think that an Eastern team could win it if one of the top teams makes it through and they get either a lower Western seed or a club battered by a tough run through the West I believe it will be a Western club that wins it though.
Anyways right now I am thinking Boston or Pittsburgh against one of the aforementioned clubs. We'll see.
And here goes nothing.
Prince of Wales
Boston v. Habs - Up north over Easter and there are a million Habs fans and each and every one of those dirty bastards, most of them close friends, says that the Bruins are done but the reality is that the Habs season went south when Carey Price began sucking bag pretty solid. Throw in the fact that their best player and the key to their PP, Markov, is out and I think the Habs don't have a shot. The Bruins have a GD of +78, 25 better then everyone else and 76 better then Montreal. They're a terrific club. Kovalev et al will give them fits but they will win in six games, maybe less.
Washington v. Rangers - I saw the Rangers in Buffalo, it was the Tom Renney's second last game as coach, and when he got fired it was no surprise to me. The big name guys were all but invisible. Redden? Terrible. Beyond terrible. First the Sens and then the Rangers blew it on their big decisions with this guy. Anyways could the Rangers beat the Caps? Sure. I would say that they have the edge in net and if they can find a way to stop Ovechkin, Semin, Green and Backstrom there's not a lot of scoring after those guys and Laich. Of course stopping those guys is easier said then done and I don't think the Rangers have the horses anyways. Caps in six.
Devils v. Canes - Ice opens up and swallows both teams.
Naw, the Devils are my first hate and it pained me when they looked so strong earlier this season. Weird because the reality is everything they do is exactly how I would want the Oilers to do things. Excellent drafting and development, team oriented philosophy, players taking less rather then going on the open market and so on. Just never have gotten over the Wild on Jack Lemaire trapping days I guess. Plus the fact that they are in Jersey.
So Canes in a minor upset, winning it in six with Cole having a huge series. Then the Canes get waxed in round two.
Pens v. Flyers - Have to like how Shero runs his club. He has his big money invested in his two superstars and that makes it tough but as long as he can find low cost veterans to play the wings for these guys this club can be a threat. The Flyers are nice and deep up front but then again so are the Pens and Pittsburgh has the edge on the blue and in net. The Pens were not even in the playoff picture a couple of months ago but they've been tearing it up. Could be the best series of round one - Pittsburgh takes it in game seven of a bloodbath.
San Jose v. Ducks - Talking to a buddy and we both agreed that we'd believe the Sharks could win it when and only when Marleau actually raised the Cup. The Sharks are the Sens of this cycle. They roared out to a beauty start this season and coasted home and by all rights they should pound the Ducks but I think this is a tough matchup for them. The Ducks have a nice blue and good goaltending and enough offence and toughness to make life miserable for San Jose. I think the Sharks win but it takes them seven and the pounding they take may cost them down the road.
Detroit v. Columbus - another tough matchup; I'd hate to have to face the BJs. Scott Howson has done a terrific job. I like the BJs a lot and I think Detroit's goaltending is going to be their downfall at some point but I think the Wings can shut down Nash and make the goaltending matchup moot. Columbus could throw a scare into the Wings but I don't think they have the offensive depth to get deep into Detroit's roster. And Detroit's roster just happens to be the deepest in the league. Wings in five, maybe six.
Vancouver v. St. Louis - the Blues are the real deal, from last in the conference to sixth in the space of a couple of months. Great coach. Nice depth up front and a whole bunch of terrific looking kids. Plus Chris Mason has really done a job for them in net. This is going to be a great series and they could upset the Canucks but I don't think so. Actually I think the Canucks could go all the way. Goal scoring from up and down the lineup, including the backend (one weakness for the Blues). Solid D including Mitchell and Ohlund who are terrific shutdown guys, imo. Two of the best players in the league in Kesler and Burrows (I can't believe I just said that). And Roberto Luongo. A lot of folks don't rate the Canucks and I could see them getting dumped in this series but if they get some traction I think they will be tough to beat. I'm taking them to beat the Blues in six but I could see it going the distance.
Chicago v. Calgary - Goaltending will make or break you but when you start the playoffs with the injuries that the Flames are contending with then you are pretty well doomed from the start. Giordano is out for the year, Phaneuf is hurting and Regehr and Sarich sound doubtful. Bourque is not back yet either I believe and even if he comes back how effective will he be?
The Flames are dead meat. This may not be the Hawks' year although looking at the teams above them they might wonder why not us? Young, fast, skilled and deep with quality goaltending. If a team or two above them fall early then they may arrive a year early.
As for the Flames well Sutter gambled by bringing in Jokinen and Leopold and I don't blame him one bit. The window for Iginla, Kiprusoff et al is closing and he rolled the dice.
Unlucky though with all of those injuries. Hawks in five.
Posted by Black Dog at 9:00 PM