Monday, April 09, 2007

The Playoffs, Sans Maple Leafs, Again

Don't blame New Jersey for not starting Martin Brodeur, blame Toronto for not beating the New York Islanders when they had the chance last week. Thanks to that 5-2 loss, the Leafs' heroic performance on Saturday was meaningless. The better of the two teams made it, frankly. That's all I have to say on that.

With that, let's make some predictions on the Stanley Cup Playoffs.


Buffalo (1) vs New York Islanders (8)

Here's what all the fuss was about, a chance to lose to the league's best from Buffalo. The Islanders, who have done amazingly just to make the playoffs, will be wiped away by Buffalo with no problems. Buffalo just keeps getting healthier, and the Islanders will be relying on someone named Dubielewicz in net. The faster New York is gone, the happier I'll be. Buffalo in five.

New Jersey (2) vs Tampa Bay (7)

Sweet Lou surprised everybody by firing his coach with just days remaining in the regular season. The last time he did that, it resulted in a Cup victory. New Jersey is still missing some top players I believe, Martin Brodeur is really the only guy they need. Tampa Bay has this year's Rocket Richard Trophy winner in Vincent Lecavalier - the top goal scorer vs the top goalie. Goaltending wins out, and New Jersey wins in six.

Atlanta (3) vs New York Rangers (6)

This is a tough series to call. Atlanta is playing in its first ever playoffs, which has to count for something. Both teams played well down the stretch, Atlanta after acquiring Keith Tkachuk and Alexei Zhitnik; New York after picking up Sean Avery of all people. I'm going to give the edge to the Rangers who will win it in seven.

Ottawa (4) vs Pittsburgh (5)

This will easily be the most interesting series to watch. Sidney Crosby and the rest of the NHL's future square off against the NHL's most notorious chokers. I have a hunch that the the Pens will dominate the Sens, and that while it will be great to watch, the result won't be so great for Ottawa. Pittsburgh in six.


Detroit (1) vs Calgary (8)

Another year of playoffs, another year of Detroit in the number one seed, and another year taking on a team from Alberta, except this time, if they lose, it won't be quite as surprising. That's not to say that they will, because Calgary has been anything but impressive over the final stretch, but they will definitely put up a fight. I can't see Detroit allowing itself to be bounced in the first round again, so I'm saying Detroit in six.

Anaheim (2) vs Minnesota (7)

Anaheim is no one's underdog's this year, after putting up a consistently impressive season. Teemu Selanne keeps improving, the rookie's are scoring, the defense is solid and the goal-tender already has a Conn Smythe to his name. Minnesota, from here on out, the "darkhorse team", won't go quietly, having put up a very impressive final few months largely on the backs of the wonderful play of Marian Gaborik and rookie journeyman goaltender Niklas Backstrom. However, I'm always skeptical of flash-in-the-pan goalies like that, so I'll give it to Anaheim in five.

Vancouver (3) vs Dallas (6)

I don't see any reason to be excited about this Dallas team who is stocked with a great goalie with a bad playoff reputation. Of course, Vancouver's goalie has no playoff reputation at all, but Roberto Luongo is more or less why Vancouver is here in the first place, making this probably the easiest Western match up to call. Vancouver in six.

Nashville (4) vs San Jose (5)

This is an exact rematch of last year's 4th vs 5th seeds, in which San Jose manhandled a goalie-less Nashville team in just five games. It won't be so simple this time around, Nashville is much, much better now, and San Jose is still good without being great. It's time for Peter Forsberg to prove his worth and propel Nashville past the Sharks in seven games.

And that's that. I'll also go out on a limb and put Nashville and Buffalo in the finals, with the decision going to...... Nashville.

While we're with predictions, some matters of ego to attend to. Looking back to October, I called five of the eight teams in the East (somehow missing the upcoming horror show in Philadelphia, and mediocrity in Carolina and not surprisingly missing the miracle on ice on Long Island). In the West I (ready for it?) I went eight for eight, which isn't really that special considering the drop off in talent after ninth place.

That's all for now,


Sidenote - One year anniversary as of yesterday. Celebrate.

No comments: