So here’s the deal: it’s been a long time since we’ve had a new post on here.
But I’ve gotta be honest in saying that we weren’t gonna give you anything new. Whatever myself or Dan could have written would have been the same crap you were getting everywhere else.
We all knew how big the last two to three weeks of the season were. If you didn’t, you’re not really a fan — plain and simple. Every newspaper, blog and critic around town let it be known.
But the Pens made it and earned home-ice in the first round thanks to the Flyers royally screwing themselves. They would.
So it’s on to the playoffs. The second season!!! Here’s my prediction on how the first round will shape up …
No. 1 Boston vs. No. 8 Montreal
To be honest, this series is going to be a joke. Montreal won’t take the Bruins very far. Even though Boston hasn’t played its best hockey down the stretch, they are head and shoulders over a Montreal club that has been more like an episode of ‘Days of Our Lives’ than a hockey team lately.
BRUINS IN FIVE
Next is the No. 2 seed, Washington, against the No. 7 seed New York.
This has the possibility to be a great series. The Rangers finished the season with a win at Philly on Sunday, a game that had no direct effect on them in the standings, win or lose. Sean Avery has definitely provided a spark for the Rangers.
The Capitals are all about goal scoring and they’re going to need it considering the shaky netminding on Jose Theodore. This series might just come down to which goalie outperforms the other, Theodore or ‘King Henrik.’
Theodore wins this one, but it’s close.
CAPITALS IN SIX
No. 3 New Jersey vs. No. 6 Carolina
Another close one, I believe. The Canes are the hottest team in the NHL going into the playoffs. And Cam Ward is looking like the same goaltender that won a Stanley Cup just a few years ago.
However, you can never count out the Devils when Martin Brodeur is between the pipes. If New Jersey can score first in most of these games, they’ll have a good shot to win the series. No one protects a lead better than the Devils.
However, I don’ t think they’ll have too many leads to protect. The Canes are going to win one of the first two games in Jersey to start the season. Then they go home where they’re unstoppable.
CANES IN SEVEN
No. 4 Pittsburgh vs. No. 5 Philadelphia
Finally, the blood bath of all first-round series.
The Flyer screwed themselves out of home ice advantage by not securing a win at home over the Rangers on Sunday. To make matters worse, they struggled to beat the Islanders the day before. They are 4-5-1 in their last 11 games going into the post-season … never a good thing.
Then you’ve got the opposite side of the spectrum. The Penguins have been unstoppable since the trade deadline. They have only lost 3 games in regulation under new head coach Dan Bylsma and seem to have finally found consistent scoring chemistry among the top two lines. Another plus: Marc-Andre Fleury has been nothing but solid in goal lately.
To be honest, though, you can throw all of that out the window with these two teams. They hate each other. Whichever team plays with more passion will win. If the Pens win the opening two, it’s over. It Philly steals one, it’s a series.
PENS IN SIX
No. 1 San Jose vs. No. 8 Anaheim
The Sharks are solid. The Ducks are hot. That’s the combination for a potentially great first-round series.
To be honest, San Jose was much more impressive earlier in the season. They’ve been playing decent hockey, but have been nowhere near as hot as Anaheim, with a 10-2-1 record in their last 13 games.
The Sharks are going to choke, I guarantee it … but not this early!
SHARKS IN SIX
No. 2 Detroit vs. No. 7 Columbus
Before Sunday I said the Jackets were going to trounce the Canucks. After Sunday I said the Red Wings are going to trounce the Jackets.
Sure, Columbus handled Detroit in the regular season. However, this is the playoffs — a place Columbus has never been — a place that Detroit owns.
The Jackets have to travel to Joe Louis Arena for the first two games. They’ll quickly learn what it takes to win in the second season. It just won’t happen quick enough to steal a victory up there.
Columbus will steal a win at home, giving the fans hope. It will end quickly, though.
RED WINGS IN FIVE
No. 3 Vancouver vs. No. 6 St. Louis
It’s great to see the Blues back in the post-season. With their recent struggles, many forget that they are one of the most consistent playoff teams in the last 20 years.
Nevertheless, they lack experience. It doesn’t matter how much talent you have. In this league, it’s normally young talent.
Personally, I think Vancouver is mud. However, they are just solid enough — and experienced — to get past the first round.
CANUCKS IN SEVEN
No. 4 Chicago vs. No. 5 Calgary
This is an awesome series.
Again, it’s youth against experience. However, this time youth will win out.
I saw Calgary in person in Pittsburgh and wasn’t impressed. Chicago has home ice advantage and will have 20,000 plus cheering for a playoff game for the first time in basically forever. The fans there have been dying for this.
The Blackhawks win the opening two games. Series = over.
BLACKHAWKS IN SIX
So there it is. That’s the first round in a nutshell.
Honestly, if you’re not a hockey fan you should sit down and watch a playoff game. It doesn’t matter which series you observe.
This is the most passionate battle for one trophy in all of North American sports. The sad thing is, since it’s not on ESPN, no one knows it.
Don’t let the fact that there isn’t a contract between the league and the worldwide leader in sports lead you to think that this isn’t the greatest spectacle in sports … because it is. If you asked ESPN, they would be contractually obligated to tell you that NASCAR is a bigger deal than hockey.
If you believe that, you’re mud.
Chris | PPT