Monday, April 9, 2007

Predicting the Playoffs

Alright it's Stanley Cup Playoff time and that means every hockey blog must make its predictions on what is going to happen. This blog is no different so here it is round 1 predictions with breakdowns.

Eastern Conference:
#1 Buffalo Sabres vs. #8 Islanders: The Islanders are on a Cinderella run into the playoffs hitting a hot streak in the final week of the season to get it. Now Ted Nolan and the Islanders will take on the team that fired him 9 years ago after winning the Jack Adams Award. If ever there was an upset story this is it. You have the old coach who was in exile coming back to face his old team. You have the 15 year franchise goalie getting injured jeopardizing a playoff spot. His backup then struggles and then a 5 foot 10 call up from the AHL named Wade Dubielewicz comes in and saves the season. AS for the Sabres they were the unquestioned number 1 team all year. That said they aren't as good as everyone is making them out to be. They road the loser point and shootout to the Presidents trophy. They are certainly the best team in the east but they aren't any better than other number 1 seed that has been upset in the past. If they were playing the Leafs I would say Sabres in 5. That said I have a gut feeling (or maybe I want to see the Sabres out as soon as possible because they scare me) that the Isles are going to pull the upset.

Islanders in 7

#2 New Jersey Devils vs #7 Tampa Bay Lightning: I already talked about the keys to this series in the Devils will play the Lightning post. To repeat though Tampa has the worst goaltending in the playoffs. The Devils just need to get shots on net (which can be a struggle at time). I think Madden and Pandolfo can shut down Lecavier and St. Louis and Brodeur can take care of the rest. If Lecavier or St. Louis get extremely hot Tampa can overcome their goalie but I think they can be held in check.

New Jersey in 6

#3 Atlanta Thrashers vs #6 New York Rangers: I said in the middle of the year that Atlanta would be 1 round and done because of their defense. Now they improved it a little at the deadline but it still isn't good. On top of that they are untested and facing a hot goalie in Lundqvist. If Lundqvist cools off this could be a 7 game series and Atlanta would have a shot.

Rangers in 6

#4 Ottawa Senators vs #5 Pittsburgh Penguins: This is about as even a series as there is. Both teams have explosive offenses and goaltending that has some questions when it comes to the playoffs. Emery had a bad post-season last year and Fluery has never played in the playoffs. This series is going to distance possible even overtime in game 7. I like the young guns in Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh in 7

Western Conference:
#1 Detroit Red Wings vs. #8 Calgary Flames: Calgary is better than your typical 8 seed but they have struggled on the road this year. Although they have played better on the road recently I think the struggles will haunt them in this series. Detroit is a tougher team than in the past and will overcome their recent first round problems.

Detroit in 5

#2 Anaheim Ducks vs #7 Minnesota Wild: This will be a defensive series. The Ducks are built on defense with Niedermayer and Pronger. The Wild well are coached by Lemaire. The Wild really only have 1 offensive line which will be easy for the Ducks to shutdown.

Anaheim in 5

#3 Vancouver Canucks vs #6 Dallas Stars: This series features 2 goalies looking to prove themselves. In Vancouver you have Luongo who is making his first playoff appearance. In Dallas you have Marty Turco who is looking to make up for past playoff disappointments. I think this series goes the distance but Turco finally rises to the occasion.

Dallas in 7

#4 Nashville Predators vs #5 San Jose Sharks: If any team got screwed by the NHL points format it's the Sharks. They won 49 games (the most) by actually playing hockey. If it wasn't for the shootout and loser point the Sharks would have been the Presidents trophy winner. There reward for winning games by actually playing the game they get the Nashville Predators won 45 games without the shootout. The Predators gambles at the trade deadline by giving a lot up for Forsberg. That said I like the Sharks to go deep in the playoffs.

San Jose in 6.

Now for the rest of the playoffs. I'll give breakdown for the actual match ups then.

Round 2
Devils over Islanders in 5
Rangers over Penguins in 7

Detroit over Dallas in 6
San Jose over Anaheim in 7

Round 3
New Jersey over Rangers in 7

San Jose over Detroit in 6

Stanley Cup Finals
New Jersey Devils over San Jose Sharks in 6 (Yea, I'm a homer)

So there are my picks. Don't put too much stock in them Maggie the Monkey will probably out pick me.

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