Monday, April 9, 2007

The NHL Playoffs

So, that time is upon us again. Things have been crazy around sports and my favorite sport is heading into the playoffs (that's hockey for those who don't know). I'm extremely excited for this year's playoffs because unlike the last two times the Stars made it, there is no possible way for the Colorado Avalanche to knock them out this year. Before I start the Playoff Preview, I'd like say congratulations to Mike Modano of the Dallas Stars. Modano finished the season with 507 goals (for his career, not the season... that would be crazy) which is the most of any US-born player in the NHL. How cool is it when every goal you score is a new record. He is also 6 points away from having the most points of any US-born player. He'll have to get that record next year.

Now, to the playoffs. Let me start with the Eastern Conference. Sabres (1) v. Islanders (8). This one is easy. The Sabres have been rolling (except the hiccup against Philly) and the Islanders limped into the playoffs because Montreal lost and they won in a shootout. Sabres in 5

Devils (2) v. Lightning(7). This should be a very interesting match-up. The Lightning can score as Lecavalier showed in the regular season with his NHL-leading 52 goals, but no goaltender is as "money" as Brodeur. I think Devils in 6 maybe 7.

Thrashers (3) v. Rangers (6). I think we see an upset here. Lundqvist has been great in goal for the Rangers and both teams can score, so with all else equal, I go with the better Goaltender. Rangers in 7.

Senators (4) v. Penguins (5). This one all hinges on how Fleury plays in goal unless Crosby can continue to find open space and time. He's been everything advertised and led the Penguins to the playoffs a year or two before anyone really expected him. Ottawa has a tendancy to fold in the playoffs, but they know that and have built to avoid it. I think Ottawa in 6 and the loss has a positive effect on Crosby for next year.

The Western Conference: Red Wings (1) v. Flames (8). Detroit hasn't fallen off the face of the Earth as they were expected to after the implementation of the salary cap and Stevie Y's retirement. Hasek looks like he's ten years younger which would still make him older than Kiprusoff, and Detroit has a ton of balance on scoring. If Iginla doesn't catch fire (pun intended), the Wings roll. Detroit in 5.

Ducks (2) v. Wild (7). I think the Ducks are too strong for Minnesota. I know Gaborik and Demitra are supposed to light it up for the Wild, but the Ducks have better scoring and are defensively on par with Minn. Ducks in 6.

Predators (4) v. Sharks (5). Wow, I'm not sure where to go with this one. It's the hardest pick of the playoffs for me because both teams have great scoring, timely goaltending, and potential game-breakers. Neither team made a massive playoff surge, so it's hard to go on recent record. So, I've got to go with the team who has the intangibles. Forsberg, Arnott, etc... mean that the Predators should take it (even though I can't stand Tootoo). Nashville in 7.

Finally, Canucks (3) v. Stars (6). I hate this first round match-up for the Stars because they will be going against a Goaltender who can change the game. That being said, I'm not sure how Luongo will do in the playoffs. Plus I'm a huge Stars "Homer" Therefore, I say Stars in 6.

1 comment:

Knotwurth Mentioning said...

Good to see some hockey talk going on around this place! I've been checking up on some of the commentary going on about the other sports like baseball and basketball, but honestly the one sport that matters the most to me is hockey, plain and simple.

I don't agree with a couple of your predictions, but then, that's what makes predicting fun! Check out my own predictions on my joint-author hockey blog! It would be nice to have some other hockey fans bantering with us on a blog that's based fully around the great Canadian game!

Oh, and I'm a Canucks fan, by the way... so we're pitted against each other in the series! Hehehe... like that first one? 4 overtimes and I watched them all... it's hard being a fan of a western-conference team when you live in the east. I was up until almost 4 AM!

Keep up the good work guys! The variety of selection here is awesome!