Well it's time for my yearly blog post. About the only time that I post on here anymore is NHL playoff time where I post my predictions. Just like previous years both myself and my wife are making predictions and competing for marital bragging rights. On to the predictions:
Washington Capitals vs Montreal Canadiens
Damn damn damn. I was really hoping Philly would finish in 8th in the east, as I wanted Ovie and the Caps to get a bit banged up before moving on. This one is a huge mismatch. Should be short.
My Prediction: Caps in 4
Wife's Prediction: Habs in 7
New Jersey Devils vs Philadelphia Flyers
Not sure about this one. Philly's had an incredibly inconsistent season, but there's still a lot of talent on that team (though no goaltending). I think of all the teams in the east they are probably the most likely to be a dark horse that surprises everyone. Jersey has had a history in recent years of great regular seasons followed by short playoff runs. I'm sure most experts are picking the Devils, but I think this one could be an upset.
My Prediction: Flyers in 6
Wife's Prediction: Jersey in 5
Buffalo Sabres vs Boston Bruins
My candidate for snoozer series of the first round as both teams are extremely defensively-minded. Miller's been awesome all year, and I think in a series where goals will be at a premium, goaltending will be the difference. This could be a series were every game has a final score of 1-0 or 2-1.
My Prediction: Sabres in 6
Wife's Prediction: Bruins in 6
Pittsburgh Penguins vs Ottawa Senators
Ottawa has surprised pretty much everyone this season and had a great year. But they're playing the defending champs, and I don't see any reason why the Pens won't play like they're capable of playing. The Sens will be happy just making the post-season this year after everyone predicted disaster at the start of the year.
My Prediction: Penguins in 5
Wife's Prediction: Senators in 7
San Jose Sharks vs Colorado Avalanche
Ahh, April when the playoffs begin and we wait for the annual Shark choke. I don't think it'll happen this round, but I have little doubt that SJ won't be going deep yet again this year. Nabby's been average, and Thornton/Marleau still have yet to show they can get it done when it matters most. Colorado was the Ottawa of the west -- the team that absolutely stunned everyone by making the playoffs. They limped into the post-season, and Anderson's been mediocre since the Olympic break. I think the Avs may surprise the Sharks a bit, but ultimately this is a mismatch.
My Prediction: Sharks in 7
Wife's Prediction: Avs in 5
Chicago Blackhawks vs Nashville Predators
As a die-hard Canucks fan it pains me to say this, but Chicago is my pick to win it all this year. They've been outstanding all year long, Toews had an amazing Olympics (as did Kane, Seabrook and Keith), the only question is in goal, but Huet has been very strong in the final stretch. Nashville has had a great season, Renne has surprised many, but I just don't see an upset happening here.
My Prediction: Hawks in 5
Wife's Prediction: Hawks in 6
Phoenix Coyotes vs Detroit Red Wings
Now this is the interesting series of the first round. Phoenix has (arguably) overachieved all year, and finally realized the potential that a lot of people felt was there in the last few years. Bryzgalov is a possible Vezina candidate. Stepniak was a huge pickup for them at the deadline. And in spite of all the adversity over the ownership situation they've gone out and won, week after week, month after month. Detroit had a horrible start to the season, was decimated by injuries, and plagued by underachievement right up until the Olympic break. Then they came back, realized that they are the team that has been perrennial post-season players for almost two decades, and the team that has gone to the Cup finals in both of the last two years. The run they put on in March was magical. The big question mark is whether or not Howard can duplicate his regular season success in the post-season. I think this one's a lot closer than people think, and I wouldn't be the least bit surprised to see either team win it. I'm giving the slight edge to Detroit based purely on experience.
My Prediction: Wings in 7
Wife's Prediction: Yotes in 7
Vancouver Canucks vs Los Angeles Kings
Admittedly I most definitely did not want my boys to meet the Wings in the first round, and of the three possible candidates (LA, Det, and Nashville), LA was definitely my first choice. Having said that, LA has finally come into their own this year, and had a great season. There's a LOT of really, really good young talent on that team (Doughty might have been the best player on the Canadian olympic team, and Kopitar is a definite rising star), complimented by the likes of veterans like Smyth. I really hope my team doesn't underestimate them. On paper, there's no doubt who's the better team, Vancouver has arguably the best goaltender in the playoffs (though he didn't look it going down the stretch), an Art Ross trophy winner in Hank Sedin, and an incredibly balanced scoring attack (6 players with 20+ goals). Defensively there's some concerns (the injury to Mitchell is huge), but if we play the way we're capable, this one should be a nice tune-up for round 2.
My Prediction: Canucks in 6
Wife's Prediction: Canucks 6