Tuesday, April 12, 2011

1st Round NHL Playoff Predictions

The NHL playoffs kickoff on Wednesday and I couldn't be more excited.  The regular season is fine and all but playoff hockey is a better representation of what real hockey is.  Guys actually finish their checks unlike in the regular season and players actually try for the entire game, its awesome. 

I just can't wait for that first double overtime game that takes until 2:35am to finish.  And is there anything better then when someone throws a dirty hit in Game 2 officially signifying that the series just got chippy?  

So here are my predictions:

Western Conference

(1) Vancouver vs. (8) Chicago

God damnit Dallas you mother f*&ing pieces of s%@* how did you not beat the f%$#@ing Minnesota Wild?! All the Stars had to do to make the playoffs, and keep Vancouver from playing Chicago, was beat Jose Theodore and some AHL callups.  But I guess that's just way too much to ask for a team who boasts one of the best top two lines in the NHL.  Just disgraceful.

As a Canucks fan am I worried that my team will get bounced from the playoffs for the 3rd straight season by the Blackhawks?  Am I worried Roberto Luongo hasn't slept since the Stars lost and still has nightmares about Patrick Kane every night?  Am I worried Vancouver's best faceoff man is half blind?  Am I worried about the President's Trophy curse?   Of course I am.

But I am also cautiously optimistic and here is why.  Vancouver's penalty kill during the regular season was 3rd bets in the league at 85.6% while Chicago's was 25th at 79.2%.  I don't see Corey Crawford stealing any games and becoming this years Antti Niemi.

Lastly with Dustin Byfuglien now on Atlanta and Troy Brouwer and David Bolland unlikely to be healthy for the series I don't think Chicago will be able to man handle the Canucks like they did the past 2 years.  That should hopefully give the Sedins more room to work with.

Having said all that I could still see the Canucks getting swept and wasting another year as a Stanley Cup contender.

Prediction: Canucks in 6 (had to go 6 because if it goes 7 the Canucks are screwed.  Maybe I should have gone with the reverse jinx on this one)

(2) San Jose vs. (7) Los Angeles

I could talk about how San Jose doesn't kill penalties half as well as LA does and how LA has a young team that is loaded with talent but really it would be a waste of time. 

The only thing you need to know about this series is that the Sharks top line are what I like to refer to as "choke artists."  Unless they are on the same team as Sidney Crosby, Eric Staal, Jonathan Toews, Drew Doughty, Chris Pronger, Corey Perry, Ryan Getlaf and every other great Canadian player in the NHL they aren't winning shit.  No one to carry them means no chance of victory.

Prediction: LA in 6

(3) Detroit vs. (6) Phoenix

List of players on the Detroit red Wings that have won a Stanley Cup:  Pavel Datsyuk (2), Henrik Zetterberg, Brian Rafalski (3), Johan Franzen, Jiri Hudler, Nicklas Lidstrom (4), Nicklas Kronwall, Dan Cleary, Valtteri Filppula, Tomas Holmstrom (4), Kris Draper (4), Brad Stuart, Drew Miller, Darren Helm, Chris Osgood (3), Mike Modano.

List of players on Phoenix that have won a Stanley Cup: Ilya Bryzgalov, Ray Whitney.

Prediction: Detroit in 4 (yeah I said it.  Phoenix shouldn't have a hockey team and they probably won't even sell out the building during their 2 home games.  But keep pushing the NHL on people that could care less about the game Gary Bettman its noble work you're doing).

(4) Anaheim vs. (5) Nashville

Nashville got so screwed here.  They almost got to play Phoenix or LA both teams they more than likely would have won their first playoff series ever against but now they have to play Anaheim who will not be an easy out.

For me this series comes down to one player: Shea Weber.  In order for Nashville to be successful Weber needs to play his best hockey and shutdown Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf.  If he does that then Nashville might finally get over the hump and win a playoff series which I am really hoping for because Nashville is a solid team and Barry Trotz could use a break (I mean the guy has no neck he could use a win).

Prediction: Nashville in 7

Eastern Conference

(1) Washington vs. (8) New York

Time to see if the Capitals new commitment to defense will pay off.  Last year they got bounced in the first round by Montreal and rededicated themselves to playing 'playoff hockey' all season.  It may have cost them in offense but they still won their division, got a first seed in the playoffs and had the 2nd best penalty kill in the league.

The Rangers barely got into the playoffs (Carolina choked at home against Tampa Bay on the final day of the season) and when I look at this team I wonder who is going to step up and be a leader in the playoffs.  Henrik Lundqvist is an amazing goalie but he can't win the series on his own, not with the defense he has in front of him anyways.

The Rangers owned the Capitals during the regular season but I don't see them continuing that trend when it actually matters.

Prediction: Capitals in 5

(2) Philadelphia vs. (7) Buffalo

They may have limped into the postseason (going 3-4-3 in their last 10 games) but the Flyers are a team that was built for the playoffs.  They play physical hockey and across the board are in my opinion the most talented team in the NHL.  Their goaltending is a real question mark but they made it to the Stanley Cup Finals with Brian Boucher in net last season so no need to worry there.

Plus if Chris Pronger plays in this series, which it looks like he will, then god help the Sabers forwards.  he has built some pent up aggression sitting in the press box and no doubt he wants to kill somebody.  Thomas Vanek better keep his head up.

I emailed my buddy Draper (biggest Sabers fan I know,well to be fair the only Sabers fan I know) asking him how many games he thought the Sabers would win.  "2 if we are lucky."

Prediction: Flyers in 6

(3) Boston vs. (6) Montreal

I was watching TSN today and they aired an interview with Travis Moen of the Canadiens asking him how he thought they were going to win the series.  His response, "drive hard to the net and make Tim Thomas work." Not a bad strategy although there is one flaw I do see in it.  The Canadiens don't have a forward taller than 5'4.  How are these midgets going to drive to the net on Zedeno Chara?  They won't even be able to get by Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton.

With all the bad blood between these two teams this year this series should be great to watch but I think its going to be pretty one-sided in terms of wins.  The again my boys Carey Price and PK Subban might go off and pull off the upset, I kid I kid.

Prediction: Boston in 4

(4) Pittsburgh vs. (5) Tampa Bay

The fact that the Penguins played so well down the stretch despite missing Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby is mind bottling.  Jordan Staal proved he can be a #1 center and everyone else stepped up their level of play.  I don't think Crosby will be playing in this series but I don't think the Penguins will need him as they are a proven group with the best penalty kill in the NHL.

Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis combined for 190 points.  Tampa bays next 4 top scorers combined for 183.  Tampa Bay is a 2 man team that scored the 6th most goals in the NHL this year but had just 8 players finish with a + rating.  They don't play good defense and their goaltending is mediocre at best.  I mean Dwayne Roloson?  Its not 2005-2006 anymore.

Prediction: Pittsburgh in 5

So there you go.  Predictions that mean absolutely nothing from some random jackass on the internet.  Enjoy the playoffs.  I know I will.

Random YouTube Video


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Would you like to take a mulligan on that Montreal/Boston series? Totally missed that one ....

James Choleras said...

haha seriously. I guess I didn't consider that Milan Lucic would quit on his team right away and Chara would be out.