It’s been a while since I posted anything about a sport other than baseball. You’d almost think it was my favorite sport or something. There are other things going on in the world and I’m going to have to write about them. I get that. So what am I going to write about?
*Reaches into back pocket*
The NHL Playoffs… Yes, you heard correctly. The NHL Playoffs. I know it’s an odd subject to take on considering I’ve written maybe 1 or 2 articles ever about the NHL, but I really enjoy the NHL this time of year. Playoff hockey is unparalleled in terms of its intensity and physicality. None of the other sports really come close to it. How often do you see NBA games going into 5 or 5 overtimes and playing well into the morning? Never. In the NHL you can get games like that. I love it.
I will admit though, I didn’t pay very close attention to the NHL this season so I don’t really have a decent idea of what went on and why certain teams finished where they did. Well, check that. I have a decent idea, but you aren’t going to get the same kind of in-depth analysis and long-winded post that you’d get from me with an NBA article.
So without dragging this out longer than it needs to be…
My first round predictions.
#1 Washington Capitals vs. #8 New York Rangers: One of these teams has Alexander Ovechkin. The other team does not. It’s that simple. Granted, it wasn’t his best statistical season, but this might be the hungriest he or the rest of the capitals have ever been. Last year they were the #1 seed and eliminated in the first round by the Canadiens. I don’t see it happening again. The Caps have too much talent while the Rangers as a #8 seed might just be happy to be in the playoffs. Ultimately though it probably will happen and we’ll be faced with another summer with questions about whether or not Ovechkin can ever lead this team to the promised land. But… I’ll take the Capitals in 5.
#2 Philadelphia Flyers vs. #7 Buffalo Sabres: In the playoffs goaltending means everything. The Sabres have one of the best netminders in the league with Ryan Miller. We all saw last year during the Olympics what he is capable of in a high pressure situation. The Flyers meanwhile came ever so close to winning it all last year and have had the look of a cup contender all year. If they can find a way to get the puck past Miller, they’ll win this series easily. If not, look out. An upset could be there for the taking. I think the Flyers survive this one, barely, in 7.
#3 Boston Bruins vs. #6 Mantreal Canadiens: Boston is the big bad bully on the block with Zdano Chara. They also have a former Vezina Trophy winner in goalie, Tim Thomas. The Canadiens have Carey Price. He might have had a decent year, but all I know is he’s killed me in previous years on my fantasy team. They’ve also obviously improved since last year, moving up from the #8 seed to the #6 seed. I just think Boston has too much going for them and too much talent all around. The Canadiens are a feisty group and their hatred of the Bruins will probably be enough to carry them to a few wins. Do I think they can win this series? Yes, I do. Do I think they will? No. I’m taking Boston in 6.
#4 Pittsburgh Penguins vs. #5 Tampa Bay Lightning: This is a tough one for me. The Penguins tend to be my team even though they’re from Pittsburgh and I’m inclined to be a little biased towards them. Tampa Bay, while it might not be a traditional old school hockey power, has a butt load of goal scorers. Martin St. Louis, Vincent LaCavalier, Steven Stamkos… that’s scary. Then again the Penguins have Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin… oh wait… crap. No they don’t. Malkin has a bum knee and Crosby’s brain is still a loose Jello mold. The Penguins have played really well without them though. Unfortunately, I don’t think this is their year. You don;t win without your super stars. They’ll play hard, but Tampa will outlast them. I’m taking Tampa Bay in 7
#1 Vancouver Canucks vs. #8 Chicago Blackhawks: This one is confusing. Watching hockey on a regular basis might have helped me understand how the Blackhawks squeaked into the playoffs as a #8 seed. They’re the defending champs. They have Jonathan Towes and Patrick Kane. How did this happen? Injuries? Lack of heart? I’d like to know. Someone fill me in. Vancouver, on the other hand, did what they always do. Win a lot of games, accumulate a lot of points, get a high playoff seed. And just like always I see them making a quick exit from the playoffs. Chicago is in the party and that’s all that really matters. Now it’s game time. WOO! This is going 7 games and the defending champs will use their experience to gut it out. Chicago in 7.
#2 San Jose Sharks vs. #7 Los Angeles Kings: A California showdown. Gotta love it. The Sharks might be one the most talented teams in recent NHL history. They might also be the most disappointing. They always get a #1 or #2 seed, but they always find a way to blow it in the playoffs. It’s like tradition at this point. Luckily for them they drew the Kings. I think this year they’ll get a chance to play in the second round. Too much talent for them not to figure this whole playoff thing out eventually. Maybe this year is finally the year. San Jose in 5.
#3 Detroit Red Wings vs. #6 Phoenix Coyotes: REMATCH! This was a first round matchup that the Red Wings managed to edge out last season. This year the tables are flipped as Detroit will possess the home ice advantage. As much as I want to say that the Coyotes will avenge last years opening round loss and take it to the Red Wings, I don’t think it’ll happen. If the Red Wings were going to be had, it was going to be last season. Detroit, like San Jose, has way too much talent in this matchup. The Coyotes will probably get two wins, I can even see them putting some pressure on Detroit winning 2 of the first 3. In the end they just won’t have enough to close things out. I’m taking Detroit in 6.
#4 Anaheim Ducks vs. #5 Nashville Predators: Nashville… seriously? Has this team ever really had a decent season? Have they ever made it out of the first round of the playoffs? Given the choice between these two teams I’m taking the Ducks for no reason other than I trust them more than I do Nashville. They’ve been here before. Again, if I had actually seen the Predators play this season I might feel differently… but I didn’t… so I don’t. I’ve seen the Ducks and what I’ve seen, I’ve actually liked. They have one of the leading MVP candidates for crying out loud. Nashville might be a hard-working defensive team, but they aren’t going to win this series. I’ll take the Ducks in 5.
OK, now that that’s out of the way… LET’S DROP THE PUCK!