Thursday, April 15, 2010
As is often the case the first night saw four upsets in four games. Despite that I'm still going with my original instincts, here are the Western picks.
Sharks v. Avs - San Jose's playoff history since the lockout makes the Sens work earlier this decade look sparkling in comparison. For the third straight season the Sharks are expected to make a deep run. Unlike last season when they faced a tough match in a veteran Ducks' squad this year's opponent is the callow Avalanche who basically had an extraordinary October, aided by a lot of puck luck, that gave them enough points to hang in there the rest of the season which was pretty mediocre.
A lot of theories about the Sharks' failures. I read somewhere yesterday that its going to depend on whether or not Marleau and Thornton want to win or not, which is kind of a weird thing to me. I'm pretty sure that they both want to win although both are known as playoff chokers, as is Heatley, despite his work in the Sens' deep run a few years back. The biggest issue for Joe Thornton to me is that buddy just isn't that fast. It was certainly noticeable in Vancouver and I think that makes a difference when the competition gets stiffer. Personally I think that if the Sharks lose this series then the team gets broken up but a lot of clubs over the years had to lose before they won. The Wings fell short a number of years before 1996 and while the Sens never won a Cup they did finally get that deep run after a number of years of failure (and remember one year they were a goal away from the SCF as well even in those early years.)
You need a lot of things to go right for you to win. Even with the loss last night I expect that the Sharks will take out the Avs in six games, quieting their critics until, well, next round.
Chicago v. Nashville - The Preds remind me of those prelockout Oiler clubs. Lots of heart. Hard working. Squeezing every last bit of talent from a bunch of kids and also rans but always falling short. I expect the same this year. I'm unsure of the Hawks overall chances to go all the way, I'd certainly feel better if Campbell and Jonsson were back and healthy. Having said that they are so deep, especially up front, that I expect them to take down the Preds relatively easily. Six games.
Vancouver - LA - This is the one pick that many are making for an upset in the west. I'd feel there might be a chance if Quick wasn't shitting the bed these past few weeks. I don't know if the Canucks have the horses to go all the way (strangely enough I wonder this about all of the western contenders - someone has to do it) and LA has some serious quality but I think Quick is the difference maker here and not in a good way. The Canucks in six, maybe even seven, but they get the job done.
Detroit - Phoenix - Should be a great series, game one last night was a lot of fun. Datsyuk was flying, Doan was hitting everything that moved. The Wings looked lost earlier this season. They have been shedding players for years but last summer was especially tough on them and then they were plagued with injuries. Yet here they are, probably the most dangerous fifth seed in memory. They still have that quality D and while they are thinner up front one must remember that they won the Cup two seasons ago without Hossa so while the club is older its not really much different from that one.
Not sure if I'd pick them to go all the way, which many are doing. Funny that folks are questioning the goaltending in Washington, Vancouver, Chicago and San Jose but not in Detroit. Of course if Lidstrom and Datsyuk had been healthy last spring they'd be looking at a threepeat after two Cups with Osgood so maybe that's why.
Anyways Phoenix is serious quality but switch the shootout records and its a different story for these two. Whatever. The Yotes are tough and they have quality between the pipes but I think the Wings drop them in six, maybe seven.
Posted by Black Dog at 11:55 AM