April 09, 2008

First Round Predictions

The Stanley Cup playoffs begin tonight. Sixteen teams are on a mission to be the one to hoist the most beautiful trophy in pro sports. It's time for me to predict, with stunning accuracy, who will still be standing after the first round.

Since everyone and their monkey - that's Maggie the Monkey - are offering their predictions, I figured I might as well get in on the party. Before I begin I must admit that today is a sad and most difficult day because, much like me, the Toronto Maple Leafs will be watching the playoffs on television. I shouldn't be writing about my predictions for the first round. I should be writing about the start of an epic Toronto/Montreal first round playoff battle. It is truly a shame that the Leafs suck.

Let's do this.

Eastern Conference

Montreal (1) vs Boston (8): Montreal in five games.

Two things I can't for the life of me figure out: how Montreal finished first in the East and how they beat Boston eight times in the regular season. I don't get it. I believe Carey Price is the real deal in goal, and Montreal's mastery over Boston should continue. Although if I think it will, it probably won't, and Boston will sweep the Habs and prove that the regular season doesn't mean a damn thing. But I'll stick with the Habs, mainly in hopes of jinxing them.

Pittsburgh (2) vs Ottawa (7): Pittsburgh in six games.

The war of words has already begun between these two teams, and that always makes for good playoff hockey. The Penguins look hungry, while the Senators look fragile and vulnerable. The facts speak for themselves and they're yelling loud and clear that Ottawa is simply not a good defensive team. Of the 16 playoff teams this season Ottawa surrendered the most goals - a whopping 247. Pittsburgh, in contrast, only allowed 216. Without Daniel Alfredsson (thanks again, Mark Bell) and Mike Fisher, and facing the high-octane Pittsburgh offence, this one could be over in four (and that would feel like Christmas in April). Oh, and here's hoping Gary Roberts goes apeshit on the Senators like days gone by.

Washington (3) vs Philadelphia (6): Washington in seven games.

This is a tough one to call, as both teams are evenly matched. I have, however, adopted the Caps as my playoff team, so there is a conflict of interest. But who cares? Let's go Caps! While I do like Huet in goal over Biron, the big question is whether the Flyers can shut down Alex Ovechkin. If the answer is yes, they'll win the series. However, no one's managed to shut Ovie down yet, and I'm not sure the Flyers will be able to unless they resort to their thuggish ways. If - actually, when -the Flyers get dirty, and we all know they will (lousy thugs), I'm looking forward to seeing how Ovechkin reacts. Look for Ovie to rise to the occasion and propel the Caps to victory.

New Jersey (4) vs New York (5): New Jersey in seven games.

This is another tough one. These two teams hate each other, as do their fans, and this series should be one of the more exciting one's of the first round. But I've got two words for you: Martin Brodeur. I simply cannot bet against him.

Western Conference

Detroit (1) vs Nashville (8): Detroit in five games.

I still don't understand how the Nashville Predators made the playoffs. Their Peter Forsberg rental last year was a complete bust, they traded away guys like Kimmo Timonen, Scottie Upshall, and Scott Hartnell, they lost Paul Kariya to free agency, and they didn't get a single game out of Steve Sullivan all year. Yet here they are, in the playoffs. If Barry Trotz, the only coach the franchise has ever known, doesn't get serious consideration for Coach-Of-The-Year, something is tremendously wrong. But the poor Predators still don't have a chance at beating Detroit. Sure, the Red Wings look vulnerable in goal, but when don't they? Detroit simply has too much talent to lose this series.

San Jose (2) vs Calgary (7): San Jose in six games.

It may finally be San Jose's time. In particular, it may finally be Joe Thornton's time. The Sharks had a tremendous year, and the addition of Brian Campbell on their blue line was a great move by general manager Doug Wilson. Their NHL-best road record is what impresses me the most: 27 wins, 10 losses, and four overtime losses in enemy territory. While the inconsistent Flames will win a game or two thanks to Jarome Iginla and Mikka Kiprusoff, I can't see them winning this series.

Minnesota (3) vs Colorado (6): Minnesota (by coin toss) in seven games.

I think this is the most difficult series to call in the first round. So I flipped a coin. Minnesota Wild it is. I just don't trust Jose Theodore.

Anaheim (4) vs Dallas (5): Anaheim in seven games.

The Ducks got off to a slow start this season but ever since Scott Niedermayer and Teemu Selanne returned, they've been flying like the Ducks of last season who won it all. While Dallas is a great team, it seems like the arrival of Brad Richards really screwed up their mojo. They struggled down the stretch and I can't see them beating Anaheim, especially without Sergei Zubov. Plus, it's hard to bet against an Anaheim defence core of Scott Niedermayer, Chris Pronger, Mathieu Schneider, Francois Beauchemin, Kent Huskins and Sean O'Donnell.

There you have it. And I just realized that I picked the top seeds (one through four) in each conference to win their respective series. No upsets. What is this, the NCAA (chuck a) basketball tournament?

Before I leave you, here are Maggie the Monkey's - TSN's esteemed playoff prognosticator - picks for the first round:

Montreal, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, New Jersey, Detroit, San Jose, Minnesota, and Anaheim.

Other than Philly, the monkey and I are on the same page. I guess Maggie's more of a Crosby type of girl.

Enjoy the first round.


Culinarian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Culinarian said...

Sure, everyone wants to side with the MONKEY!
Good predictions, hoping Ottawa gets raped by Pitty, and definately hope Philly gets raped by Washington.
Nice pic by the way, I wish I was the Cup.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, the monkey definitely ate a rotten banana. All teams will trounce the Flyers. While I won't rock the 'hawk, I definitely rock the red. LET'S GO CAP!

Jaredoflondon said...

I can't help but like any primate which continually picks the team that is not the Ottawa Senators.

Shmee said...

Nobody understands how the Preds made the playoffs. God is confused.

Anonymous said...

I agree with all but 2, New York will win and the series, and Philly will win the series....Bhattorious