Yeah, yeah, yeah…I know…what kind of preview posts up the day after the playoffs start? Well, the Hopeful Chase kind, my friend! We may run a bit behind schedule here, but we do get the information out. Heck, I have a post about the Masters that is only a week late now (I swear I’ll get it posted this week, Pops!).
Anywho….roving Penguin correspondent Link called me yesterday from somewhere between Euclid, Ohio and Pittsburgh (not really, but he’s on the road so much I’m sure he’s been there before) to give me his predictions for the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Please remember that all of these predictions came before last night’s games.
1. Vancouver Canucks vs. 8. Los Angeles Kings:
Link’s pick – Canucks in 6
Reasons: “LA can’t score” and “Even if Dan Sedin isn’t back till Game 2 or 3 the Canucks have enough offense to win.”
Justin G.’s pick – Canucks in 5
Reasons: I don’t care if the Kings racked up 4 goals in the first game, the Kings don’t have a shot in this round. The Canucks will rebound from the Game 1 loss and sweep the next 4 games.
2. St. Louis Blues vs. 7. San Jose Sharks
Link’s pick – Sharks in 5
Reasons: “Not sold on St. Louis” and “Sharks waiting for playoffs”.
Justin G.’s pick - Sharks in 6
Reasons: I think the Blues play enough defense to make this series competitive, however, like Link I think the Sharks have been treading water until the playoffs start.
3. Phoenix Coyotes vs. 6. Chicago Blackhawks
Link’s pick – Hawks in 6
Reasons: “Can Phoenix win a non 2-1 or 3-2 game?” and “Chicago’s goaltending is a question mark”
Justin G.’s pick – Hawks in 5
Reasons: I really want the ‘Yotes to advance to the Finals, but unfortunately I think they got one of the toughest draws in the entire conference. Despite the shaky goaltending, Chicago has to be considered a favorite to advance to the Finals. They have depth in scoring, a decent enough defense and the unexpected goal scoring talents of Andrew Shaw.
4. Nashville Predators vs. 5. Detroit Red Wings
Link’s pick – Nashville in 5
Reasons: “Wings are too beat up, especially in the blue line”
Justin G.’s pick – Nashville in 6
Reasons: I was going to agree with Link and go with the Preds in 5, but with Shea Weber possibly facing a 1 or 2 games suspension I think it will cost them at least one win (update – Weber was only fined $2500- screw it I’m staying with 6 games). Nashville is a quietly complete team that has just enough offense to be dangerous.
1. New York Rangers vs. 8. Ottawa Senators
Link’s pick – Rangers in 5
Reasons: “Ottawa has to capitalize on power play” and “They can’t make it a long series as they don’t have enough in the tank”.
Justin G.’s pick – Rangers in 5
Reasons: I bet on the Rangers.
2. Boston Bruins vs. 7. Washington Capitals
Link’s pick – Bruins in 6
Reasons: “Boston wins, but will be tougher than people think” and “their backchecking will be the difference”.
Justin G.’s pick – Caps in 7
Reasons: I think the Caps are starting to figure themselves up and it appears someone woke Alex Semin up. Alex Ovechkin has found his scoring touch (11 goals in last 13 games) and Nick Backstrom is back in the lineup. Boston struggled a bit down the stretch and I don’t think this team has the depth that last year’s did.
3. Florida Panthers vs. 6. New Jersey Devils
Link’s pick – Devils in 5
Reasons: “Florida doesn’t know who will be their starting goalie” and “the only reason Florida is in the playoffs is because of the charity point.”
Justin G.’s pick – Devils in 5
Reasons: Is there anyone picking the Panthers in this series? They did manage to hold off the Caps push at the end of the season and pulled out wins when they needed to, but Dale Tallon’s collection of misfit just doesn’t have the firepower to stick with the Devils. One more run for Marty Brodeur
4. Pittsburgh Penguins vs. 5. Philadelphia Flyers
Link’s pick – Philly in 6
Reasons: “Worst matchup for the Penguins” and “Philly can match the best aspects of the Penguin teams – power play and penalty kill” and “Philly can be physica”.
Justin G.’s pick – Penguins in 7
Reasons: Philly’s goaltending will be their downfall. So will be their inability to refrain from taking retaliatory penalties. Of course, this will lead to folks claiming that the “Penguins get all the calls”. I also think that Philly will lose at least one of their key offensive players.
Pre-Round 1 Stanley Cup Finals Matchup Prediction:
Link: Flyers vs. Blackhawks
Justin G: Rangers vs. Blackhawks (The NHL’s market matchup dream?)