Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Prince of Wales - A Handsome Man Enters

Remember the year that TSN had the monkey picking playoff winners and it outperformed the panellists? Did that happen? I think it did.

I was going to do that with the big fellow a couple of years back and then I got too busy plus he wasn't really keen on the idea. Felt that him picking a cookie to determine a series winner was too random and ignored his knowledge of historical trends and special teams goal differential. Plus he thought it was going to cut into his drinking. Buddy loved his gin and tonics.

Bob MacKenzie tweeted yesterday that he was not going to make any picks this year. Its become a real mug's game and last year when the eastern underdogs ran the table, similar to the west in 2006, was not predicted by anybody.

With all that said I'm in two hockey pools this year and I do this every year and so lets do it again. I usually end up picking eleven out of fifteen series correctly, except for a few years ago when I tried to prove my cleverness and ended up getting nine right or some such thing. Even last year I think I got eleven or twelve. So yeah I have the fever. Or something. I don't know.

So, starting with the Prince of Wales, lets see what we have for the first round. I think it fairly wide open this year but if I were to pick one team (and I did in my pool) I would pick the Bruins. And after Chicago won last season I'm hoping that Boston goes all the way. Old school. If I were king I'd contract the fuck out of the NHL.

And I'm going to go against my own advice here and totally totally am going to outsmart myself and set myself up to fail. Oh well, have to go with the gut.

Washington v Rangers

Here's the thing I don't get about the Capitals. Its not like they were getting beaten 7-6 last spring. Their issue wasn't stopping the puck, it was scoring. And as a response they tighten up their system, start trapping some, basically cut down on their own offence.

I don't get it. They ran into a hot hot goalie and had a lot of bad luck and their response is to move away from their strengths.

I like Boudreau a lot but I think this is it for him. I like the Rangers here. If they had Callahan healthy I think they would be all set but even now I like their chances enough to pick them in seven. They had a better goal differential than the Caps despite playing in, imo, a tougher division. They have the better goaltender and looking at their lineup I see a whole lot of big, fast men who are hard to play against. I don't think the Caps are going to find any space to work and I think that Ovechkin, who gets a little to up and down for my taste, is going to start to press too much.

Rangers in 7

Flyers v Les Sabres

One of the things I really enjoyed about last season was the fact that most of the clubs involved were your established franchises. By round two it was, with the exception of San Jose and the Canucks, all original six or 1967 clubs, and of course the Canucks have been around forever as well. This year there are way too many of these newbies for my liking. Give me a matchup like this one where the cities actually give a damn.

And yes I would love to see a Sabres miracle run.

Now that's not likely to happen but I like their chances here for three reasons. First of all the Sabres have been a very good team for quite a while after a slow start and the Flyers have been not so hot since a great start. I'm not talking the last few weeks. There's enough history to prove that how you finish the season matters not a whit. I'm talking months where Buffalo has been playing great and the Flyers have not. Secondly, goaltending. Its always iffy in Philly and there's no change this year. And the Sabres have Ryan Miller. And finally Chris Pronger's status is in doubt. He was supposed to be back a while ago and then by the end of the season and now he is out for at least game one. Without his thirty minutes a game the Flyers are going nowhere at all.

Sabres in 6.

Bruins v Habs

I grew up on a steady diet of the Habs beating the Bruins in almost every conceivable way. As the overwhelming favourites and as the underdogs. In a rout or in a nailbiter. Didn't matter. I can't remember the actual year that Boston finally beat Montreal but I do recall thinking that Ray Bourque's play that series was the best I had ever seen by any player up to that point of my life and I cannot recall a similar feeling since. He singlehandedly beat the Habs that spring.

Of course Montreal are the guys who went on the magic run last season so maybe the injuries to Markov and Gorges and Max P. don't matter but the reality is this club is so so thin and the Bruins are so so deep that I can't see this being much of a contest. Depth means everything in the playoffs. That's why Chicago won last year and why Philadelphia almost did. That's why Boston collapsed last year. They ran out of guys and so this year they added Peverley and Kelly. Those guys are going to make a difference.

BTW when did Scott Gomez become so shitty? Seven goals and a minus fifteen at that price? And he played nearly every game. People hate Horcoff's contract. His looks like a bargain compared to this little fathead.

Bruins in six. Maybe less. Their GD is the best in the East, second best in the league iirc. This is a good club and they are going to make a long run, probably to the finals.

Pens v Tampa

Penguins have a hell of a coach, don't they? Crosby is still the leading scorer here despite missing months and of course Big Ugly is out too. Just a bunch of hard working professional veteran players. You know, the type of guys that the Oilers can't be bothered to pick up to augment their kids. The fucking dummies.

I do think that this is it for Pittsburgh though. It will be tight but Tampa has a solid team themselves and once Roloson squared away the goaltending they were fine. I know a lot of people hate the whole Yzerman love the media gets into but I do believe that buddy is one smart guy. He makes those nice low cost bets and he has himself a pretty good club here.

Tampa in 6.

Next, the Brian Campbells.


Ribs said...

My picks...

The Capitals will destroy the Rangers. They never had a chance.

The Flyers will have some early hiccups, but will defeat the Sabres.

The Bruins will have little trouble dispensing the Habs.

The Bolts are my darkhorse as well. Their Eastern Conference leading powerplay will be too much for the Pens.

uni said...

All of your predictions look good. The Bruins-Habs series does have some caveats though. The Habs obviously have some sort of magic talisman they rub over their goalies come playoff time.

I can fully see Price fondling and caressing whatever it is that Theodore or Halak touched their last few runs and going insane for an upset or two.

The Bruins are a damn fine team though, and if Savard was in the lineup and healthy they'd be my favourites to come out of the East.

I can't even imagine when the Oilers would be able to assemble a team like that. I remember thinking right after that '06 run that if the Oil could resign Peca at 2M for one more year and ink Chara man oh man they'd just crush everyone.