Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Breaking Down The NHL Playoffs

Hey Peeps and anyone else checking in. A special "Hey" goes out to Hazel Mae.

We're still bitter and angry about the Flyers and the Devils laying down in the last weekend of the season to screw the Leafs - I've said it a million times, karma has a way of coming back to bite you in the ass; the Flyers found that out today when news came that those losers couldn't even win the draft lottery for the number one pick in the draft, the Devils are going to find out soon when they get bounced out of the playoffs. Our breakdown of the NHL playoffs - keeping in mind we did a better than average job of picking NHL games (outstanding if we could have wiped out games in which we picked Nashville over Chicago and Anaheim/San Jose over Phoenix - those games killed us).


Buffalo vs NY Islanders
Lindy Ruff isn't public enemy number one in the eyes of Leaf Nation - thanks to Lou Lamoriello. The fact of the matter is that the Islanders are counterfeit, they made it into the playoffs because a couple of teams laid down for them. This one is a no brainer - Buffalo is better at every position, bigger/faster and tougher than the Islanders. The Islanders say that Rick DiPietro is back skating, it won't matter, they are going to lose this series and be the first team knocked out of the playoffs.

Buffalo wins the series in five games; we say five games because we fully expect them to dump game four to win the series at home and get an extra gate in the first round.

New Jersey vs Tampa Bay
We'd love to see the Lightning shock the Devils - wouldn't that be sweet to see Lou's Devils bounced out in the first round? This series could very well depend on how the officials call the game; if they call it like they did in the regular season, Tampa's power play could be the difference. The Devils will try to bore the Lightning into submission and counter-attack to gain the upper hand; when you have Martin Brodeur in goal you can do that. The Lightning have some question marks in net and on their defence, which will end up cancelling out any offence Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis can generate.

We'd love to be wrong in this one - but we are calling the Devils in five games.

Atlanta vs New York
The Thrashers shocked everyone by winning a very weak southeast division - yours truly included. Atlanta will rely on Kovalchuk, Hossa and Keith Tkachuk to power their high octane offence and pepper New York's Henrik Lundqvist - and try to keep the Rangers away from Keri Lehtonen. The Rangers have played some of their most impressive hockey down the stretch this year and Lundqvist is the main reason why; Lundqvist's play of late has allowed the Rangers to take a few more chances on their breakouts, freeing guys up to leave the zone a bit early. The X factor in this series will be Jaromir Jagr - if he decides he is interested and wants to play, Atlanta can't stop him; also look for Sean Avery to go after Kovalchuk to rattle him and get him off his game and into the penalty box. It was a successful season for Atlanta - but they are in over their heads in this one.

We are picking the Rangers to win this series in six games - with Jaromir Jagr emerging as the scoring leader after round one of the playoffs.

Ottawa vs. Pittsburgh
This will be the closest series in the first round of the playoffs - the SenaTards are now the benchmark for early playoff collapses; they went into this season like they always do, talking about anything less that an appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals being a failure. The Tards have plenty of supporters in the Canadian media drinking their koolaid - mostly because they hate the Maple Leafs; we aren't buying it. The Penguins proved all year that they could match up well with the SenaTards and beat them; the exclamation point came in early March when the Penguins overcame a 4-1 deficit in the third to win it. The goaltending is pretty even - Ray Emery has a year of playoff experience over Marc-Andre Fleury; but as has been proven on a number of occassions this season, Emery can lose it quickly and snap. The defence is pretty well even - while Pittsburgh doesn't have Ottawa's shutdown defence pair, their defence is quicker and much more active in the transition game. The forwards are a pick em - Ottawa may have a bit more depth, but Pittsburgh has Crosby and Malkin. This is another series where officiating will play a big part in the outcome - if the refs call a tight game, Pittsburgh's power play could steamroll the SenaTards; or at the very least wear the Tards down by making them kill penalties all night. The X factor in this series will be Pittsburgh LW Gary Roberts who has killed the SenaTards in the past. The Tards passed on Roberts at the trade deadline, so you can bet he will be using that snub to energize his play and the play of his teammates. The playoff experience Roberts and Recchi bring to Pittsburgh will make up for the inexperience of some of their young guns.

We are calling for Pittsburgh to win this one in seven games - yep, they walk into Scotiabank Place and win game seven...you know who will be leading the cheer for the Penguins.


Detroit vs Calgary
We weren't sold on Detroit last year (we said they would get bounced before the Conference Finals) and we still aren't sold on them this year - as impressive as Detroit's point totals have been, remember that they get to play Chicago, Columbus and St. Louis eight times a year. While St. Louis' play improved late in the season - they were pushovers for the first half. The goaltending is relatively even - if Kiprusoff is on (as he has been of late) he is every bit as good, if not better than Hasek. Calgary's defence is bigger, stronger and faster than Detroit's; they will pound on the Wings forwards and make them pay for every inch of ice. Detroit has the edge up front, as Calgary struggles to score when Iginla isn't on. Calgary season has been marked by being great at home and miserable on the road - though we think back to back wins in Minnesota may have them on the right track. The X factor in this series is going to be Alex Tanguay - they acquired him from Colorado for his offence; its time for him to have an impact.

We are going against conventional wisdom and the experts - we are picking the Flames to win this one in six games. If they don't win the series, they will beat the Wings up so badly that the Wings won't get out of the second round.

Anaheim vs Minnesota
This is probably going to be the best series of the opening round - two teams that are lights out at home. Both teams have had very good goaltending this year, the Wild have a diamond in Niklas Backstrom - and J.S. Giguere has played like he did a few years of years ago. The Ducks have a clear advantage on defence with Pronger and Niedermeyer playing 30 mins a game - and that will be the difference in this series. The forwards match up relatively well with both team having balanced scoring. The X factor in this series will be the Ducks checking line - they have shut down almost everyone they have been matched up against, and we can see them doing the same to Gaborik and Demitra. Also, watch for Dustin Penner to emerge as one of the big players in the opening round of the playoffs.

We are going to take the Ducks to win this one in six games.

Vancouver vs Dallas
The Vancouver Canucks have been the surprise of the NHL this year - though its hard to call a team that has Luongo in net a surprise. The Canucks completely changed their style of play under Alain Vigneault this year - transforming from a high-flying scoring machine to a defensive style team that scores on the counter-attack. The problem for Vancouver is that they have been playing this style for a year - Dallas has been playing this style for a number of years. Vancouver has the edge in goal with Luongo, and he will be the reason this series goes the distance; but when it is all said and done, Dallas has a couple of playmakers that can be the difference in a game - Modano, Morrow and Boucher. Marty Turco has often been criticized for sub-par playoff performances, but we think his teammates get him through this one.

We are picking Dallas (grudgingly) to win this one in six games.

Nashville vs San Jose
The Predators had a great first three-quarters of the season - but a lot of it can be chalked up to the teams they got to play in their division (even though they lost a few to the Hawks) - San Jose has been built for playoff success. The goaltending is a saw-off, mostly because Nabokov can be a little inconsistent - the talk in Nashville is that the players prefer to play in front of backup Chris Mason, not good when you go into the playoffs. The defence is also pretty much even - the Sharks are better defensively, but the Predators have some young kids that like to jump into the offensive zone on the transition. The big edge for the Sharks is up front, in terms of scoring depth. Joe Thornton has been on a mission this season and goes into the playoffs healthy for the first time in his career - he also has Johnathan Cheechoo scoring in buckets. If you shut Thornton down, then you have to deal with a second line centered by Patrick Marleau - good luck. The Sharks have the best 1-2 punch at center - there is too much for the Preds to deal with.

We like the Sharks in six games - not to mention winning the Cup.

That's it for tonight gang - hope you agree...if you don't, leave a comment with your picks.

Hazel, I hope things are groovy in your world.

Song of the Night on Hazelspeeps - now playing

Sign Your Name - Terence Trent D'Arby

Time I'm sure will bring
Disappointments in so many things
It seems to be the way
When you’re gambling cards on love you play
I'd rather be in Hell with you baby
Than in cool Heaven
It seems to be the way

Peesth Out...Buh Bye!


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