Playoff Predictions are Dead, Long Live Playoff Predictions: Round 1

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At the start of every NHL season, bloggers and journalists bombard us with pointless predictions as to the performance of the teams in the league.  These predictions are then mostly ignored until they can be used to either deride someone or so that someone can talk about how awesome he or she was at predicting the final outcome of the regular season.  And then we hit the Stanley Cup Playoffs.  For the next week hockey fans are bombarded with predictions and analysis and outlines from every corner of the web.  After some time it just got annoying, but I still wanted to share my predictions and analysis of the first round of the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs

The East

#1 Washington Capitals vs. #8 New York Rangers –Rangers in 7
This is the only series that I see in the playoffs that will be an easy out. Every year the question is not if the Caps will choke, it is when. It also makes perfect sense that such a flameout would be against the Rangers, a team that squeaked into the playoffs based off the failure of another. The Blue Shirts will be looking to mimic the Flyers from last year and make a dramatic run to losing in the finals.

Players to watch:
  • Personally, I’ll be looking for Jason Arnott to become concussed before the Rangers’ home stand. 
  • I also predict that Alex Semin will maintain his vacation reservations in order to avoid the cancelation fees. Do not expect to see him after game 6. 
  • All of voices are saying that Sean Avery won’t touch playoff ice unless the Rangers experience major injuries. I disagree; I think he’ll dress every game, except he’ll be wearing Chris Drury’s uniform. 
  • Marian Gaborik will break down early and Tortorella will be forced to declare him scrap and strip the Slovakian hockey star for spare parts to repair Henrik Lundqvist. 

#2 Philadelphia Flyers vs. #7 Buffalo Sabres –Flyers in 8
Damn the Flyers are a bunch of lazy assholes. They basically did the opposite of what they did last season; the orange and black started the season strong but lost the fire down the stretch. Still, you can’t ignore their depth in the face of the… well… I don’t know much about the Sabres. They are a tough team with increasingly solid goaltending and they’ve scored a lot of goals. Ultimately I think Buffalo will take seven games in the series.

Players to watch:
  • After losing in game 7, Chris Pronger will kidnap the referees’ families in order to force a game 8. The Flyers will win this game when the Buffalo Sabres forfeit due to utter confusion. Bettman will support the Flyers due to clauses in the TV contracts 
  • Bobrovsky will collapse so deep into in the butterfly that he will implode and form a black hole. Despite this he will still not manage to earn a shutout in the playoffs 
  • I think Nathan Gerbe will slip in under the Flyers’ radar and score some important goals. Thus ends the short joke! 
  • Cody McCormick will leave the team hours before the puck drop for game 1 after learning that his uncle died leaving his spice empire to his favorite nephew. 

#3 Montreal Canadiens vs. #6 Boston Bruins –Bruins in 6
With such a classic rivalry match up, this should be a fantastic series. The only thing more exciting will be watching two groups of entrenched hockey fans duking it out. I’m pretty sure Canadiens fans will light a car on fire for every puck that Tim Thomas lets into the net. Likewise I predict that Bruins fans will drink themselves catatonic, thus protecting themselves from a quite second round exit.

Players to watch:
  • I’ll be taking bets on how deep we go into the series before a Bruin or Boston media accuses P.K. Subban of being a disrespectful or dirty player. 
  • Canadiens Goalie Alex Auld will hope to make it through the playoffs without accidently forgetting which team he plays for and climbing onto the wrong bus. This problem is augmented by the fact that no one else would notice if he were misplaced. 
  • As the only Scandinavian on the Bruins team, will Tuukka Rask finally succumb to loneliness? 
  • I’m continually disappointed that Daniel Paille has nothing to do with paella. Then again, I cannot attest to Dan’s cooking abilities.

#4 Pittsburgh Penguins vs. #5 Tampa Bay Lightning –Lightning in 7
I’m looking forward to this match up between a great offensive team and great defensive team. The most shocking this about this series is the incredibly small number of nationally televised games. Will the Penguins be able to perform at their highest level without the massive media exposure? The boys from Tampa are used to be largely ignored by the media, so the lack of major network support plays to the Bolts’ strengths

Players to Watch
  • If Sidney Crosby is able to return to the lineup during the series, will NBC be able to reconfigure their schedule to accommodate the development? 
  • I’m hoping that this series will provide me with more silly pictures of Brooks Orpik. I wasn’t able to grab any good ones during the regular season, so this may be my last chance until the 2011-2012 season. 
  • What? Mike Smith is nearly 30? This guy is never going to be a starter, just ask Dan Ellis. 
  • I’m not looking forward to learning if PUR-cell, PUR-cil, or pur-CELL is the correct pronunciation of his name. Personally, I prefer the third one. 

The West 

#1 Vancouver Canucks vs. #8 Chicago Blackhawks –Chicago in 4 if you’re a hawks fan; Vancouver in 4 if you a Canucks fan

Seriously, are there two teams with a greatest sense of elitism and entitlement? The answer is no, because I said two teams, therefore the Red Wings don’t count. As far as I see it this series is win-win because either the Canucks get silenced or the Blackhawks get sent home early. Still, I would get more enjoyment out of seeing the Vancouver fans cut down by the Blackhawks, again.

Players to Watch
  • Watch for Henrik and Daniel to reveal that they have been wearing the other’s jersey all season in order to dispel rumors that Henrik is actually a cyborg crafted from Daniel’s DNA. 
  • Now that Luongo no longer has an arbitrary C painted on his mask, will he be able to elevate game in the playoffs? It is a commonly held belief that the C was actually a runic hex placed on the Canadian net minder by Ollie Jokinen. Rumor has it that an early elimination could see Luongo try out for the Italian national team. 
  • I predict that Patrick Sharp’s hair will win the Conn Smythe 
  • Jonathan Toews will miss a few games after being unable to find hockey pants and socks that fit hit due to the muscle massed he developed after carry his team for the second half of the season. 

#2 San Jose Sharks vs. #7 Los Angeles Kings –Kings in 4

As we are all aware, the Sharks are not allowed to win the Stanley Cup. The entire team will play at an elite level until at most the third round. So I figure we just go ahead and knock them out knowing and give another team a shot. With the Kings not being able to score and being strong defensively the only colorfulness that we’ll see in this series are pretty teals and purples, plus some shiny silver trim. This is easily the most vibrant playoff series when viewed from the perspective of a palette

Players to Watch
  • Between Dan Boyle and Scott Nichol, the Sharks have two guys that can change the course of the game at any moment by scoring key own goals. Look for the Kings to rely on these two players towards the middle of the series. 
  • Sharks rookie Logan Couture is an NHL playoff veteran, appearing in 15 playoff games and 25 regular season games in 2010. Wait… what? He’s a rookie after playing 40 games in the NHL that includes a deep playoff run? 
  • The absence of Kings right-winger Scott Parse will force LA to operate without the aid of Lord Voldemort. Don’t like that joke or don’t get it, fine, it was a stretch. 
  • The Sharks have to be concerned about the constant presence of Wayne “Meat Train” Simmonds and professional boxer and transcendental athlete Jack Johnson. 

#3 Detroit Red Wings vs. #6 Phoenix Coyotes –Wings in 7

This was a hard fought series last season, and I can only see it getting tougher now that the Coyotes have had a year to grow and adjust. I think the Coyotes will play with a chip on their shoulders in front of their home crowd. The Red Wings are an elite team, but Phoenix’s greatest challenge will be breaking past Goldwater’s defense. It will be a real challenge for the Desert Dogs to overcome the Red Wings and a conservative watchdog lobbyist group.

Players to Watch
  • Todd Bertuzzi. Seriously, keep an eye on that guy; there is no telling what he might do when you’re not looking. He’s also been known to spin in circles and shoot the puck; it’s comedic, but annoying. 
  • Anyone else have trouble telling Franzén and Holmström apart? I know that I do. Still, neither of them have the balls that Patric Hörnqvist does. 
  • Shane Doan is a jerk, look for him to shadow box Bertuzzi 
  • Expect The Coyotes to continue to mimic Nashville by declaring that Paul Bissonnette will be retiring and joining the Coyotes post-game report. 

#4 Anaheim Ducks vs. #5 Nashville Predators –Preds in 1

What a series, eh? The goon squad versus one of the least penalized teams in the league, well except when it comes to bench minors, a team of prolific goal scorers that lacks depth fighting against a team that is nothing but depth. The goal for the Preds is shutting down the Ducks’ top lines and then taking advantage of the weak defense, goaltending, and lack of bottom six talent.

Players to Watch:
  • It’s getting closer to the summer, which means that robot attacks are on the rise. Watch for Corey Perry to be forced to leave the team and fight back the robot menace. 
  • Keep and eye on Dan Ellis and his accountants. If the games look to get too costly Ellis may bolt for a tax shelter leaving behind Ray Emery and some guy that sounds like a brand of soap to hold down the fort 
  • The Predators will lean heavily on Shea Weber, hoping that his slap shot will incapacitate enough of the Ducks that Anaheim will voluntarily bow out of the playoffs at the end of the first game. 
  • Keep your eyes peeled for Matthew Lombardi. No one in the organization knows where he went to and they would really like to get him back. Thanks.

1 comment:

Ang said...

Kings in 4? BOOO!!!!!


(hilarious Preds in 1 - tho I do have them in 7)