After weeks of overtime, blundering, and generally mediocre play the Eastern Conference finally managed to wrap up the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. As far as my predictions go I did much better in the East as I my assumption that mediocrity would be the key to victory as we saw Washington, New Jersey and the Flyers all advance despite a total lack of ability to play vital aspects of the game. I got my Ottawa prediction wrong, but I’m not all that broken up about it. The Western conference showed some real spirit as the Canucks managed to put up as strong an effort as a pumpkin getting kicked in the face by a teenager. The coin flip that landed me on the Sharks failed to take into account that the Sharks are old and the Blues players still haven’t realized that they are doomed to failure. Chicago and Phoenix played hockey often on the same sheet of ice and they continued to do so until one of the teams won. This is the way of things. Finally, despite Nashville’s victory of the Red Wings in five games, true victory was in the hands of the Detroit fans as they held the moral high ground. The fans maintain that the team defeated itself since Nashville doesn’t deserve a team and therefore any of the Southern team’s victories “don’t count.”
#1 New York Rangers vs. #7 Washington Capitals
Fate has conspired to give a low seeded another opportunity to knock the occasionally high-flying Rangers out of the playoffs. Typically a high seed would be enthusiastic to play lower ranked teams, but such an idea assumes that the high seeded team is at least good. After knocking out the Bruins the Capitals might have an easier time facing a team that had trouble consistently scoring on guys like Craig Anderson and Erik Karlsson.
Prediction: Washington will steal the series in 7 games due to an abundance of goal scoring. And… it looks like there will be a big party, maybe the team will invite the Rangers out for drinks.
Players to watch:
- Henrik Lundqvist will be disqualified from playing when it is discovered that at some point during his career the Swedish government transferred his consciousness into a robot body. Henrik’s true body was placed in a secret vault in Åland in order for Sweden to protect their “great national treasure.”
- Prust will spend the first game of the series calling Holtby Brandon. Holtby will later be suspended pending trial.
- Braden Holtby will request a trade to Washington mid-series as he realizes that his serial killer good looks are advantageous in New York City.
- Nicklas Backstrom will cement his bad boy image as he accrues unnecessary penalty minutes as he refuses the officials’ urgings to remove his aviators and leather jacket while on the ice
#5 Philadelphia Flyers vs. #6 New Jersey Devils
This next round should prove challenging for both teams. The Devils were eventually able to eliminate the Panthers in much the same way that water carved the Grand Canyon. Some might say that a team that struggled to defeat the Florida Panthers likely will not fare well against a team with effective offensive weapons. Some might even say that Martin Brodeur’s mediocre regular season numbers will be exposed. I don’t know. The Flyers are good as being hilariously inconsistent at not being terrible in their own zone. Some might say this is a problem. For Philly the path to the cup passes solely through the lands of their rivals. I’m certain that I could use that previous sentence every year and it would always be correct.
Prediction: Both teams are looking forward to a fresh start in this second round series. The always charismatic Flyers will finally find balance in their game thus giving them the ability to eliminate the Devils in four
Players to Watch:
- Having finished the first round with zero points, a -2, and 46 PIM, expect Zac Rinaldo to see more ice time because why the hell not.
- After being given some time to get healthy expect all of the Flyers defensemen to get injured before or during game 1.
- Marek Zidlicky leads the Devils in ice time per game. I find this hilarious.
- I predict that I will finally learn the names of at least three of the Devils’ defensemen.
#2 St. Louis Blues vs. #8 Los Angeles Kings
Fans of defensive battles are likely salivating at the chance to watch this pair of brick walls go head to head. In theory the latent offensive weapons on the King’s roster might suddenly awaken and rain terror down upon Brian Elliot and Jaroslav Halak, but that seems as likely as Simon Gagne bursting out of a cake at center ice and then scoring ovechtricks while whistling French Canadian folk songs.
Prediction: The edge in this series will go to whichever team can establish itself physically on the ice. Still, with both teams playing a physical game it will be essentially for players to not play recklessly. I see the Kings upsetting the Blues in seven games.
Players to Watch:
- You could watch this guy or that guy… I guess. What do you want? Kopitar is a zombie, the Blues play hockey I’m pretty sure, and something about Wayne Gretzky. What else do you want?
#3 Phoenix Coyotes vs. #4 Nashville Predators
This is an interesting match-up between this year’s bandwagon team and every year’s why don’t they go ahead and lose so that no one will buy them and they will move back to the promised land of Saskatoon team. The match up is actually intriguing. The question for the Preds is if they can solve the Coyote defense and Mike “The Desert is Magic” Smith. Meanwhile the Coyotes will simply need to find a way to generate offense against a more than competent goalie and defense.
Prediction: The scores in this series are going to be tight from start to finish. The Predators know how to beat the Coyotes, they simply have to execute their game plan and prevent a slip in complacency. If they can do these things the Predators will win in six games.
Players to Watch:
- Lacking the grit of Raffi Torres, will Shane Doan step out of the shadows and assume his rightful post as Sith Lord Darth Amicabilis?
- The Coyotes are really going to need Ray Whitney to wake up in the second round, literally. *phew* I was really worried that I hadn’t made any “he’s old” jokes so far.
- Having swayed his wife’s opinion on beards, Mike Fisher will work his next miracle by convincing women everywhere that a hockey jersey is perfectly acceptable dress for a cocktail party.
- Sergei Kostitsyn will finally become the player he was always meant to be once Lane Lambert activates the electrode in Sergei’s brain that makes him shoot the puck.
All predictions during this round were made with the use of tarot cards. I find this means provides a level of detail often lacking in the analysis generated by professional hockey writers.