Tomorrow is the start of the two month haul known as the NHL Playoffs. The first round presents us with some interesting match ups and I’m going to break them down for you. Since there are only about eight people who watch hockey, I’ll try to keep it short. No promises, though.
We’ll start in the East with the number one seed Boston Bruins taking on the eighth seed Montreal Canadiens. The Bruins have clearly been the best team in the East, and will get my vote to end up in the Stanley Cup Finals. These two are bitter rivals, so it will be a brutal series, but in the end, the Bruins win in 4.
The second seeded Washington Capitals will skate against the seventh New York Rangers. Basically, the Rangers will have to find a way to stop Alexander Ovechkin, which I don’t think they can do. Not even with super-pest, Sean Avery. Rangers goaltender Henrik Lunqvist is going to have to play the series of his life if the Rangers hope to advance. Caps in 5.
The third seeded New Jersey Devils will face off aganst the sixth seeded Carolina Hurricanes. This is the series that I know the least about. Being in a Western Conference market, I don’t see much of the Eastern Conference, so most of this is speculation. I know that Marty Brodeur is back for the Devils and looks like he hasn’t suffered any ill effects from the torn biceps tendon. I’m going with the Hurricanes in 7, just because I really don’t have any idea and I need to pick an upset.
One of the most anticipated series pits the fourth seeded Pittsburgh Penguins and their cross-state rivals, the fifth seeded Philadelphia Flyers. The Flyers will have the tough task of containing Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby for an entire series and I think that will get to them. I think the Penguins will go deep in their year’s playoffs after their impressive run to the Finals last year. Give me the Pens in 6.
In the Western Conference the top seeded San Jose Sharks will take on the eighth seeded Anaheim Ducks. The President’s Trophy winners will have a much tougher time with the Ducks than most people think. Now that the Ducks are in, their roster looks very imposing with the likes of Chris Pronger, Scott Niedermayer, and Teemu Selanne. I really want to take Anaheim, but I can’t do it. Sharks in 7, but it will be a close, close series.
The second seeded Detroit Red Wings play the seventh seeded Columbus Blue Jackets, who are making their first ever trip to the post season. It will be short lived. The Wings will win in 4. I don’t feel like breaking it down, because it won’t be close. Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, and Marian Hossa will be too much, even if Detroit has shaky goal tending. I will be pulling for the upset, though.
Two of the hottest teams in hockey will take a run at one another when the third seeded Vancouver Canucks play my sixth seeded St. Louis Blues. The Blues made a shocking charge after their MLK Day Miracle (see video below) to climb from 15th place to 6th in the West. They’ve been riding their netminder Chris Mason, so he’ll have to stay sharp for the Blues to win. The Canucks counter with the Sedin twins and Roberto Luongo in net. It should also be noted that the Canucks and Blues went back and forth this offseason over restricted free agents David Backes and Steve Bernier. I’m a Blues fan. They’ll win in 6 (I hope).
The final playoff series is the fourth seeded Chicago Blackhawks against the fifth seeded Calgary Flames. The Hawks are making their first appearance in the playoffs since 2002 and I think they’re primed for a deep run. For whatever reason, they’ve owned the Flames this year going 4-0 against their Canadian counterparts. I think Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews continue that dominance and the Hawks will win in 5.
Now, as promised, the video from the MLK Day Miracle:
Enjoy the playoffs.
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