Stanley Cup Playoff PreviewApril 14th, 2011 by Ben Remington
So two weeks ago I ranted about baseball’s Opening Day, and how awesome that was. Don’t get me wrong, I love Opening Day, it’s my favorite day on the sports schedule. But my favorite nearly two month period? The NHL playoffs. I know half the nation doesn’t get it, ok, maybe more like 7/8 of the country doesn’t, but for us hockey fans, it’s like Christmas for 6 six weeks. I love love love the MLB Playoffs, but the NHL Playoffs are probably a notch up for me. So, with all that love spread, let’s take a look:
Caps-Rangers: This one will get wayyyy more love than your typical 1-8 matchup due to A) the Ovechkin factor, B) the Caps chokejob against Montreal last year, and C) the media darling that is every freakin New York sports team. This matchup will hopefully be over early so we can stop hearing about last year’s Caps Collapse, how great the Rangers are (when they really aren’t), and Ovechkin’s so far futile quest for Stanley’s Cup.
Flyers-Sabres: This one could get interesting. Sure, the Flyers are a Cup favorite, no doubt about it, but their goaltending situation is less than desirable. Hot goalies rule the NHL Playoffs and Ryan Miller is capable of carrying a lesser team through a tournament(remember the Olympics?). With that being said, the talent that the Flyers bring to the table will likely be too much.
Bruins-Canadiens: Talk about a rivalry brought to the next level. After the Chara-Pacioretty incident last month, the bad blood here didn’t need a 7 game series to develop. Couple that with a media friendly original six matchup, two goalies at the top of their game in Thomas and Price and we could have a fantastic series on our hands. Hopefully no one takes the physicality too far in this one.
Penguins-Lightning: This one has some serious sex appeal. The Penguins sans Crosby still have a fair amount of drawing power, and rightfully so, as they’ve been pretty damn good without him. Across the ice, the Lightning have hockey wunder kid Steve Stamkos, and seeing what kind of postseason player he turns out to be will be captivating. Add in the suspense of a Crosby return, and this could get legen….wait for it…..dary.
Canucks-Blackhawks: Spoiler Alert! I honestly like Chicago’s chances here, despite the perceived squash match the seedings say. Chicago has been there before, Crawford can get hot, and steal the show. Meanwhile in Canada, tons of pressure is on the Canucks, along with the President’s Trophy Curse, and to top it off, Luongo folds up like poker table at times. Sure, he didn’t fold up in the Olympics, but seriously, did you see Team Canada’s roster?
Sharks-Kings: California Love! There’s my Tupac reference for the day. Well, here we are again. The Sharks are in playoffs, itching to choke, and this time, they get a chance for a shorter trip home if they do so in Game 6. The Kings are a nice story, a bunch of kids who are on the rise, yada yada yada, but what everyone will be talking about is the Sharks’ destiny as a habitual playoff patsy. Here’s to hoping they overcome the Kings, so we can hear about that some more……Just Kidding.
Red Wings-Coyotes: This one lacks a lot of pizzaz. The Red Wings, tried and true playoffs juggernaut, are setting up to destroy the ‘Yotes, who will only get Bryzzy with it long enough to avoid a sweep. Narrowly. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to see the Wings knocked out, mostly because they’re all Detroit has left, but it’s just not going to happen. Sorry, die hard hockey fans in Arizona…
Ducks-Predators: This one should be interesting, just with the fact that Nashville is very under the radar. Ask a non-hockey fan to name NHL teams, I bet Nashville is left off that list. But, Pekka Rinne could be this year’s Halak, given his size and skills, and they could surprise a few teams, starting with the offensive heavy Ducks. If the Ducks had Jonas Hiller, I would probably take them to win at least a series, maybe two, but Ray Emery doesn’t blow my skirt up these days, even with a Mike Tyson helmet.
So there it is. Predictions? Not my forte. You should be able to decipher who I like in the first round from this, but beyond that, the Playoffs are NCAA Bracetesque when it comes to expecting the unexpected. Hot goalies make or break teams, and therefore decide the fate of twenty other men on their team, and make the ‘experts’ look like idiots. My Prediction- watch it, and you will enjoy it. It’s like the NBA Playoffs, only the first 47 minutes matter, the NFL playoffs, without the fluke wins, and the MLB Playoffs, being played at Mach 3.
Ooooooooooooo What a Rush!