Friday, April 27, 2012

First Round Review and Second Round Predictions

The first round of the playoffs are complete, and the View was 62.5% for his predictions. Here is a recap:

WESTERN CONFERENCE

VANCOUVER (1) vs LOS ANGELES (8)

MY PICK: VANCOUVER IN 7
OUTCOME: LOS ANGELES IN 5

The Canuckleheads could not solve Jonathan Quick, and when the Kings took the first two games in Rogers Arena, the Canucks were too fragile to bounce back. The return of Daniel Sedin did give them some life, and the play of Cory Schneider was exceptional. The Canucks undoing was their inability to get pucks past Quick.

ST. LOUIS (2) vs SAN JOSE (7)

MY PICK: ST. LOUIS IN 6
OUTCOME: ST. LOUIS IN 5

The Blues lost the first game of this series, and rather than give momentum to the Sharks, it served to energize the Blues. Losing Jaroslav Halak to an ankle injury forced Brian Elliott into the net, and he was exceptional. The Sharks were out hit, out hustled, and succumbed to a team that is playing very good hockey. The Sharks forwards were absolutely smothered by the defense of the Blues, and could not muster the offensive firepower to get past the Blues.

PHOENIX (3) vs CHICAGO (6)

MY PICK: PHOENIX IN 7
OUTCOME: PHOENIX IN 5

The story of this series was the outstanding play of Coyotes netminder Mike Smith. Smith had a .950 save % for the series, and the Hawks just could not solve the big goalie. Cory Crawford let in some soft goals for the Hawks, and was outplayed in the series. The loss of Marian Hossa to a cheap shot from Raffi Torres did not help the Hawks effort.

NASHVILLE (4) vs DETROIT (5)

MY PICK: NASHVILLE IN 5
OUTCOME: NASHVILLE IN 5

The depth and talent of the Predators were too much for the Wings to overcome, and Pekka Rinne was a beast in net. Detroit scored only 4 even strength goals in the series, and the Predators got contributions from throughout the line up.

EASTERN CONFERENCE

NEW YORK (1) vs OTTAWA (8)

MY PICK: NEW YORK IN 6
OUTCOME: NEW YORK IN 7

The Rangers had a tougher go of it against the feisty Senators than most would have imagined. The Sens crowded Henrik Lundqvist and got opportunistic scoring. In the end, the Rangers talent was better than the Senators and it was the deciding factor in a rugged series.

BOSTON (2) vs WASHINGTON (7)

MY PICK: BOSTON IN 5
OUTCOME: WASHINGTON IN 7

The story of this series was the play of rookie Braden Holtby in net for the Capitals. Holtby was stellar in shutting down the potent Bruins offense. About that Bruins offense- they were surprisingly throttled by the defense of the Caps. Tim Thomas was not bad in net for the Bruins, but was not good enough to steal this series.

FLORIDA (3) vs NEW JERSEY (6)

MY PICK: NEW JERSEY IN 6
OUTCOME: NEW JERSEY IN 7

The Panthers gave the Devils all they wanted in this series, and the deciding game 7 went to two OT's before the Devils finally won. Martin Brodeur was surprisingly shaky in net for the Devils, but was good enough to hold off the Panthers. The Panthers had their chances, but could not put the puck in the net when it counted most in game 7.

PITTSBURGH (4) vs PHILADELPHIA (5)

MY PICK: PITTSBURGH IN 7
OUTCOME: PHILADELPHIA IN 6

Early on, the Penguins were absolutely atrocious in this series. Marc-Andre Fleury was a sieve in net and the Penguins defense was non-existent. Rallying back for two wins when down 3-0 gave the Penguins some hope, but the Flyers snuffed that out with a dominating game in the series clincher.

So, after seeing those picks, one would correctly surmise that betting the paycheck on the View's predictions would be...foolish. Foolish or not, it doesn't stop me from launching out into my fearless second round predictions. So here we go...

WESTERN CONFERENCE

ST LOUIS (2) vs LOS ANGELES (8)

The Blues look to continue their run to the the Conference finals, but this match up will not be as easy as the one against San Jose. The Blues will face a team that can hit and bang with big bodies as well as they can. Jonathan Quick will present more problems for the Blues forwards than did Antii Niemi of the Sharks, and I expect scoring to be low in this series. Just as the big bodies of the Kings are going to present problems for the Blues, the Kings are going to face a team that has just as good size and plays strong team defense. For the Kings to have a chance in this series, they will have to solve the Blues aggressive forecheck and create scoring chances. I expect this series to be a physical battle, and the team that handles that best will have the ticket to the Conference finals.

MY PICK: BLUES IN 7

PHOENIX (3) vs NASHVILLE (4)

You can read my analysis of the series here.

MY PICK: NASHVILLE IN 6

EASTERN CONFERENCE

NEW YORK (1) vs WASHINGTON (7)

Henrik Lundqvist will be tested in net by the Caps, and will have to be sharp. I think he will, and his play will lead the Rangers to the series win. The Rangers have too much firepower for the Capitals, and if Braden Holtby is under siege, then we could see the rookie crack under pressure. If so, then this series could be over quickly. Look for the explosive forwards of the Rangers to pressure the Caps defense, and they should have the upper hand. Too much depth and talent will bring a victory to the Rangers.

MY PICK: NEW YORK IN 6

PHILADELPHIA (5) vs NEW JERSEY (6)

If Ilya Bryzgalov can continue to play consistently, the Flyers should be in good shape. I think he will. The pressure is going to be on the Devils defense to contain the potent forwards of the Flyers and support Marty Brodeur, and they will have their hands full. Lead by Claude Giroux, the Flyers have the ability to score and score in bunches. They key to this series could be the play of Devils netminder Marty Brodeur, who at times looked shaky in the series with the Panthers. If he is on his game, then the Flyers will have to work for goals. If not, then this series will be over quickly. Look for the Flyers physical play and scoring ability to be more than the Devils can handle.

MY PICK: PHILADELPHIA IN 6

There you have it, friends. My advice? Don't bet the rent money on any of my picks.

Game on!

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