Tuesday, April 15, 2014
People say that the western team that comes out is going to be beaten to a pulp but every year this is the case, the west is a tough road, although Chicago had a decent draw last season in terms of their opponents being a little less physical until they met the Kings. Unless you play a minimum of games you're going to be beaten up, that's the way it is. Sometimes this will have a big impact on the final such as in 2009 when Datsyuk, Lidstrom and Hossa were all in rough shape by the time they played the Pens but generally everyone is banged up.
The west is ridiculous though. I have four of five real contenders in the west and two of them will be knocked out in the first round. Crazy shit.
Looking at the east I realized that I went with the team with the better record in each case because I'm a madman (unless no Bishop for Tampa). Hm, pretty boring.
Ducks - Dallas
Dallas is a sexy pick to pull an upset. Their possession numbers are better than Anaheim and they were a team whose record didn't reflect this, especially earlier in the year.
But man that goal differential difference is a big one and the Ducks didn't ride the shootout either. They're good. I don't rate them like I do the other western big boys but they're not a pushover. Seven players other than Getzlaf and Perry with double figures in goals so they have that offensive depth I'm always harping about, some young guys, some vets, a lot of guys who can check. Dallas is almost a mirror image though, with six guys in double figures after their big two of Benn and Seguin (and a kid in Sceviour who had 8 goals in 26 games). Again they have that solid mix of kids and vets up front.
The hilarious thing, to be honest, is I don't even know if some of the guys on either team are any good. I shit you not. Dillon and the other Benn on D? Not a clue lol.
Anyhow the one thing that worries me about Anaheim is their goaltending. I don't think they are going far anyways and a lot of people are saying that this Gibson kid is going to be their downfall and while I think it isn't going to help them in round two I think its good enough to get them past the Stars. My gut says Dallas but while I like them and its possible I don't like them that much. Ducks in six or seven.
Colorado - Wild on Jack Lemaire
For me the Avs aren't in the elite group either and are probably a step below the Ducks as well. They have a whiff of the Leafs about them if you know what I mean. The Wild still are not in their league though. They might win a game, maybe two but the Avs are better I think, even with Duchene out of their lineup. I'm going to say Avs in five, maybe six. I don't really care. Neither team is that good.
Sharks - Kings
This one is a rematch of last year's homer series which went seven and ended with the Kings edging out the Sharks. This time around the Sharks have home ice and its probably a push between them and the Hawks as to who I think is the team to beat. San Jose will have to beat LA first but even a fully staffed Kings team would have trouble with the Sharks. If Drew Doughty is not 100% and of course I have no idea if he's resting or actually hurt, then this is not going to end well for LA. Even if he is healthy I think it ends well. The Sharks are too deep up front and on the back end, anchored by Vlasic. LA are sound, they really are, but too many of their guys have seen their offence dry up. Brown, Richards, Stoll, even Justin Williams has seen his production fall off. We know LA can check but I think San Jose has just too many weapons. It will be tight, it will go seven (unless Doughty is hurt, then its over sooner) but San Jose will win.
Chicago - St. Louis
For me the Hawks are Cup favourites again (or at least co-favourites). They coasted home with Toews and Kane on the shelf and there were times this season where they seemed ... bored but they still ended up in the top five in goal differential. They have almost the same lineup as last season, with only Viktor Stallberg, Frolik (who was a pretty big loss imo) and Leafs' franchise centre Dave Bolland moving along. As always it seems the Hawks have some kids in the pipeline and so Ben Smith had 14 goals, Jeremy Morin chipped in near season's end and Brandon Bollig appears to have turned into an actual hockey player plus Versteeg is back. Depth. The advantage Chicago has over everybody though is that elite talent - Toews, Kane, Hossa and Sharp all had 28 goals or more and Duncan Keith averaged nearly a point per game. Shaw had twenty, Saad had nineteen and three others had double figures as well.
I like the Blues - for me the issue has always been their lack of a guy who can create offence out of nothing, the gamebreaker. They're a deep team up front and on D and they score a lot but man those shooting percentage numbers are crazy high, we're talking out of this world high, we're talking unsustainable really and we're talking about six of their top seven goal scorers having these ridiculous numbers.
My guess is the Blues try and pound the Hawks into the ground and the Hawks' superior skill wins out. I saw them play earlier this year and St. Louis played physical and Chicago either brushed them aside, gave back as good as they got or just skated out of trouble. To me this is not a great matchup for St. Louis at all. I don't love Crawford in net but I don't love Miller either. I think Chicago moves on in six.
Posted by Black Dog at 3:32 PM