Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Kid in a Candy Store... NHL Playoffs are here.

So... very... happy. The NHL playoffs start tomorrow and as always, some tempting morsels waiting to be sampled. Let's take a look for a second at what the various and sundry series have to offer... not so much from an X's and O's perspective, but rather what jumps out.

Western Conference (without the not so important seedings):

Nashville at Detroit: Have to give huge props to the Predators for making it to the playoffs again as with the exception of Jason Arnott, pretty much their entire team left via either free agency or fire sale trade (bye-bye Scott Hartnell and Kimmo Timonen). That being said, I just don't see them being able to match the firepower of the Wings (who also kick in a good dose of grit and above average D for good measure).

Calgary at San Jose: If the Sharks wanted an early test of their toughness, they certainly got it in a matchup against the Calgary Roughnecks/Flames. Much has been written and said about the Sharks wilting in the face of adversity in the last few playoff years and the Flames love to provide adversity... often in the form of a cross-check, slash or sucker-punch. Perhaps it's a case of drinking the local Kool-Aid, but I do think this year's Sharks team will be a year wiser, and a goodly amount tougher with the additions of Jeremy Roenick and Jody Shelley (who I really hope plays)... as well as the return from injury of Ryan Clowe (who has already been tabbed for the Joe Pavelski-Patrick Marleau line).

Colorado at Minnesota: Not sure what to make of this one... the Avs certainly have the marquee names to throw out there in the person of Joe Sakic, Milan Hejduk and Peter Forsberg, but it will be interesting to see what age and injury allow them to contribute. In this one, anything's possible (course that's like saying someone's "day to day"... aren't we all?)

Dallas at Anaheim: Has the potential to be a very "interesting" series in the sense that "Blood on the Highway" was an interesting movie to view in High School Drivers Ed. The Stars come off 60 minutes of thug practice from their final game of the year against the Sharks, but will be matching up against a team that not only majored in thuggery, I'd say they have a graduate degree in it. Here's to expecting Steve Ott to cheap shot Teemu Selanne and then get chased across the ice by George Parros, but into the waiting club arms of Brad May... lights out, Stevie (and Dallas).

Eastern Conference (again, seedings out the window):

Boston at Montreal: Original Six matchup. Teams that don't like each other. The rookie phenom on one end (Carey Price) with the scrambling and clawing wily veteren (Tim Thomas) at the other. Good stuff. Montreal is the more skilled team, but don't count out the B's, especially with the return from season-long injury of Patrice Bergeron.

Ottawa at Pittsburgh: A pairing that seemingly points towards a Pens victory. With a team built for now (Hello Marian Hossa, goodbye Kolby Armstrong), Pittsburgh will be going against a Senators team minus Captain Daniel Alfredsson and Mike Fisher. This series might be over before it really begins.

Philadelphia at Washington: Alexander Ovechkin in the playoffs for the first time... how sweet it is. Will be terrific fun to see what he does against the... "questionably legal" tactics of the Flyers. Actually, will also be fun to play "guess how soon into game one Donald Brashear will be fighting Riley Cote, Scott Hartnell, Steve Downie or any of the other Flyer goons. I'd put the over/under at about 3 minutes... gotta let him take his first shift, you know.

New York Rangers at New Jersey: Good matchup. A couple of teams with enough skill, goaltending and spunk to do some serious damage in the playoffs, but only one will make it out of the first round. Jaromir Jagr may well be making his last run with the Rangers and Scott Gomez and Chris Drury will be just starting their Ranger playoff careers... and both did pretty well in prior stops. Each of them will be opposed by one of the best "clutchiest" goalies ever (and noted "all in the family" man) in Martin Brodeur.

1 comment:

Alan said...

Alan's playoff predictions-First round.

Western Conference

Detroit over Nashville in 5
San Jose over Calgary in 7
Minnesota over Colorado in 7
Anaheim over Dallas in 6

Eastern Conference

Montreal over Boston in 5
Pittsburgh over Ottawa in 5
Philadelphia over Washington in 6
NY Rangers over Devils in 5