Hey Peeps and anyone else checking in. A special “Hey” goes out to Hazel Mae if she is checking in.
Methinks our resident SenaTard/delusional Blue Jays fan Shanley checked in last night to show Tilt some love and take a shot at yours truly – methinks because he didn’t leave a name. Well Shanley, if that was you applauding Tilt, let’s talk in May when AJ Burnett is on the DL AGAIN, and the duo of Shaun Marcum and Jesse “Rojo” Litsch start to pitch to their capabilities as fourth and fifth starters. Let’s not get into where “big Frank” will be in May – because we both know he’ll be jumping back off the plate on pitches that are on the inside corner. How is the Chickenhawk’s five-year plan going? What year are you in?
As for the shot at Quikdraw’s playoff predictions – the opinions expressed are those of the offer and do not necessarily reflects the opinions of this blog...though I agree with him on most of his picks.
NHL Playoff Predictions from the desk of Pogue:
The Eastern Conference series will come down to goaltending and overall team speed – with three of the four matchups having one team with a decided advantage in both areas, the exception being the Rangers and Devils who are pretty evenly matched in both. The Eastern Conference isn’t likely to produce any surprises – apologies to the SenaTards faithful that point to the 2-7 matchup as historically being one which produces an upset. In terms you may understand – a 2-7 is the worst starting hand in poker, and this year it applies to the playoff seedings; forget past upsets, it isn’t going to happen this year, in either conference.
Montreal over Boston – Bruins fans should be celebrating the fact that they got in the dance, they SHOULD NOT be looking forward to Patrice Bergeron possibly suiting up; two words: Tim Connelly. The Habs dominated the Bruins because of a clear and distinct advantage in overall team speed and superior goaltending. Things haven’t changed from game 82 of the regular season to game 1 of the playoffs. Montreal’s overall team speed will put too much pressure on Boston’s D and will lead to scoring chances off turnovers. The only way this series makes it past five games is if the officials put their whistles away and both teams play 5 on 5 for most of the game. Montreal in five games – I’ll give Boston one home ice win with Hazel in the crowd…Hazel Karma for one night only.
Pittsburgh over Ottawa – for all of the Tards bravado about relishing the role of underdogs, the underlying tone is that they know they are dead in the water. When teams talk about playing with “no pressure on them” it is a sign that they don’t deal well with pressure – HELLO SENATARDS. Even if these jokers were to some how get up in the series, you know they won’t close the deal. The Tards goaltending is a mess, with a guy who doesn’t like pressure situations and is playing like it; their defence is slow and susceptible to quick breakout rushes, and their forwards aren’t scoring with the exception of the big two (please SenaTards, don’t give me the Andre Vermette spiel). The Penguins aren’t playing fire-wagon hockey, but they have two forward lines that represent an offensive threat to a Tards team that has forgotten how to play in their own zone. There is no switch to flick in Ottawa – the Pens avenge last year’s loss in five games.
Washington over Philadelphia – the Flyers only hope in this one is to get outstanding goaltending from Martin Biron and impose themselves physically on the Caps – neither of which is likely to happen. Ovechkin and the Caps are on a roll – a crazy roll that isn’t likely to come to a stop anytime soon. The trades that brought Sam Jones (aka Sergei Federov) and Cristobal Huet have solidified the team and given them some playoff experience (see Sam Jones). The Caps won’t be intimidated by the Flyers size and their speed up front is too much for the Flyers to deal with. The Caps have a decided edge between the pipes, in offence from the back end, and speed up front. I’m expecting a split over the first four games (each team winning a road game) before the Caps turn it up and win games 5 and 6.
New York over New Jersey – the toughest first round series to pick, it is a coin toss either way. While Martin Brodeur is acknowledged as the league’s best, Rangers G Henrik Lundquist is a top 7 or 8 and, when he is on, is capable of matching Brodeur save for save. There really isn’t much to choose from (unless you consider that the Rangers dominated the Devils this season. What it comes down to is that the Rangers have more game breakers than the offensively challenged Devils. The Devils won’t be able to rely on the counter-attack against the Rangers as the Blue Shirts play the exact same style as New Jersey – so you have to look at what teams can generate more scoring chances. Jagr, Gomez, Drury and Shanahan get the nod. Rangers in six.
The Western Conference is a little tougher to predict, with the combatants being more evenly matched – again, with one notable exception, Detroit vs Nashville. The eight teams vying to be the Western Conference representative (read: Stanley Cup Champs) all feature good goaltenders (with the Avalanche being a little suspect) and good overall team speed. The deciding factor will be overall scoring balance and what team can physically impose themselves on the other – while home-ice advantage in the deciding game could be a factor in one of the series.
Detroit over Nashville – The President’s Trophy winners will undoubtedly disappoint their fans once again, but this time it won’t be in the opening round. The goaltending is relatively even – Hasek and Osgoode can be very good, but they can also be donkeys when the pressure is on. Nashville accomplished some pretty amazing things considering the personnel losses and off-ice issues that impacted the team, but Detroit just has too much offence for Nashville to contend with. Detroit gets it done in five games.
San Jose over Calgary – An ugly matchup for the Sharks, they lost the season series to the Flames and they are sure to come out physically battered and bruised after this one. The Sharks have been playing their best hockey of the season over the last quarter – they are starting to get goals from different players and Brian Campbell has played like a champ since being traded from Buffalo. The issue for the Flames is what it has always been – secondary goal scoring; outside of Iginla and Huselius, they don’t have much. San Jose should be able to contain the Flames top line and get enough out of their second line, with Patrick Marleau having come back from the dead, to win this one in six games. In years gone by, Calgary would rely on Kiprusoff outplaying Nabokov, but they can’t do it this year; Evgeni has been great for the Sharks and led the league in wins. San Jose wins this one in five games.
Minnesota over Colorado – The deciding factor in this one is likely to come down to the Wild having home ice in game 7. The Wild get the edge between the pipes with Niclas Backstrom being more consistent and reliable than Jose Theodore, but the Avs have the advantage up front with a relatively healthy Joe Sakic and Peter Forsberg. The Wild are tough to beat at home and I can’t see the Avs winning there once, let alone twice. The Wild win in seven games.
Anaheim over Dallas – have you heard the theory that Brian Burke will walk away from the Ducks to run the show at the Air Canada Centre if the Ducks win the Cup? The Ducks have the Stars beat in every facet of the game. Anaheim in five games.
There you have it – fearless predictions from the desk of Pogue. Book it.
Enjoy your NHL Playoffs – Leaf Nation is looking towards the June Entry Draft and wondering why is there even a draft lottery in the NHL? What a joke.
WEDNESDAY THREE PLAY
Last week wasn't very good - it was downright bad, but a couple of gimmes on the first night of the NHL Playoffs.
Pittsburgh over Ottawa - a lot of gamesmanship on the part of Brian Murray about how the Pens wanted to face Ottawa in the opening round; Pens will show everyone why it was the right thing to do. Lay $100 on the Pens - $210.San Jose over Calgary
- the Sharks absolutely have to win game one, or face the ugly questions about whether this will be another Sharks team that underachieves. Lay $100 on the Sharks - $200.
That's it for tonight/today (depending when you are reading this). A few baseball games to be suggested later. Thanks for taking the time to check in.
Hazel, here's hoping things are groovy in your world.