Wednesday, April 14, 2010

2010 NHL Playoffs: First Round Breakdown

Everybody is making picks and instead of racking my brain for an interesting and unique post to slap up on the site I’m doing the same. The only difference is that I recognize that everyone has a shot at winning, no matter how small (MONTREAL). That being said, I’ve outlined what needs to happen for each team to win and underneath I’ve declared my bold predictions.

They say the only thing stupider than predictions is the person who makes them! I don’t know if they actually say that, but I made it up right now. Feel free to use that if everything I predict fails to come true.

Eastern Conference

Washington (1) vs. Montreal (8)

Montreal Wins If… Halak absolutely steals four games. He’s going to be shelled worse than London in WWII and if he doesn’t play on his head then there is no way the Canadiens advance. If Halak plays poorly the Montreal faithful will be calling for the fallen Carey Price, the man they’ve booed mercilessly all year.

Washington Wins If… The Earth doesn’t implode before game 4.

Prediction: Washington in 5 – I’ll be nice to Montreal fans and say Halak steals a game

New Jersey (2) vs. Philadelphia (7)

New Jersey Wins If… Martin Brodeur forgets last year’s implosion against the Hurricanes, 2008’s series against the Rangers, and this year’s Olympics and remembers that he’s Martin Brodeur, the greatest goalie of all-time… If Kovalchuk can elevate his game and provide a dangerous 1-2 punch with Zach Parise… If the Devils can receive scoring deeper than just the two aforementioned superstars.

Philadelphia Wins If… Brian Boucher forgets that he’s Brian Boucher… If Chris Pronger can neutralize Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk… If the Flyers deep core of forwards can outplay the Devils’ forwards… If both Carter and Gagne are healthy and productive… If Daniel Carcillo rattles Martin Brodeur as badly as Sean Avery did in 2008 during the Rangers’ 4-1 1st round victory.

Prediction: Philadelphia in 7 – banking on Boucher... erg.

Buffalo (3) vs. Boston (6)

Buffalo Wins If… Ryan Miller only marginally outplays Tuukka Rask. The Bruins can’t score, so all Miller has to do is play a little better than Rask and the Sabres will advance. They have balanced scoring and any of their lines should be able to exploit Matt Hunwick.

Boston Wins If… Tuukka Rask severely outplays Ryan Miller. Boston can’t score, so Rask must be phenomenal and not only match Miller, but exceed him. No easy task… If Zdeno Chara remembers that he’s 6’9 and 255 lbs and starts hitting people and blasting the puck with a vengeance… If David Krejci continues his great play post-Olympics… If the Bruins aren’t forced to rely on Mark Recchi and Miro Satan for scoring.

This series should be fun since it’s this year’s two best goalies, but Claude Julien and the Bruins have a way of sucking out all the fun from hockey, so this series will be awful.

Prediction: Buffalo in 6 – I should repeat that this will be 6 awful games that no one other than Bruins or Sabres fans will want to watch

Pittsburgh (4) vs. Ottawa (5)

Pittsburgh Wins If… Sidney Crosby doesn’t have to play forward, defence, and goalie at the same time… If Evgeni Malkin is healthy and a viable threat… If a defenceman other than Brooks Orpik throws a hit.

Ottawa Wins If… Daniel Alfredsson hits Matt Cooke from behind, steals the puck, and scores the OT winner without drawing a penalty or suspension… If Daniel Alfredsson can focus on playing hockey and not shooting the puck at any well-respected veterans after the buzzer… If Anton Volchenkov and Chris Phillips block more shots than Dikembe Mutombo during a junior high pick-up game.

Prediction: Pittsburgh in 5

Western Conference

San Jose (1) vs. Colorado (8)

San Jose Wins If… Evgeni Nabokov doesn’t play like he did in the Olympics… If the Sharks realize the Avalanche are young, inexperienced, and have played worse than any other playoff team over the past 10 games… If Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau play to win, rather than not to lose.

Colorado Wins If… Matt Duchene and Peter Mueller are healthy and play like they are 10 year veterans, rather than players with just over 300 regular season games under their belts… If Craig Anderson continues his improbable year and doesn’t realize that he’s little more than a 28-year-old journeyman… If the Sharks choke like they are prone to do.

Prediction: San Jose in 5 – this is the best matchup the Sharks could have hoped for since the Avs limped into the playoffs. The Sharks should beat them handily, but you never know with the Sharks.

Chicago (2) vs. Nashville (7)

Chicago Wins If… They don’t ask a local tavern owner to leave the arena with his goat on account of its odour.

Nashville Wins If… Patric Hornqvist can play, considering he’s the Preds’ leading goal-scorer and only player with more than 25 goals… If Shea Weber’s slap shot breaks the legs of the entire Chicago team… If a deep Nashville blueline can contain a deep Chicago forward corp… If the Blackhawks are dumb enough to play Cristobal Huet.

Prediction: Chicago in 4

Vancouver (3) vs. Los Angeles (6)

Vancouver Wins If… Roberto Luongo’s post-Olympics hangover is only a result of being bored by a lack of pressure filled games… If the rest of the Vancouver defence can play a solid game without Willie Mitchell… If the Sedins continue to make me look stupid for hating on them… If St├ęphane Auger doesn’t ref every game.

Los Angeles Wins If… Jonathan Quick stops playing like garbage (I contemplated making a stupid joke calling him Jonathan Slow… you should thank me)… If Ryan Smyth stands on top of Luongo’s head and doesn’t let him see anything… If Dustin Brown can play a more effective two-way game than Ryan Kesler… If Drew Doughty plays like the future Norris winner he is… If Frolov wakes up and realizes he’s in a contract year… If the Kings play with poise beyond their age.

Prediction: Canucks in 6 – this will be an exciting, hard-fought series, but I think the Kings’ youth will be their undoing.

Phoenix (4) vs. Detroit (5)

Phoenix Wins If… The Wings revert to their play at the beginning of the year, instead of the post-Olympic juggernaut that went 16-3-2 down the stretch… If Ilya Bryzgalov steals 4 games. The Coyotes have the 7th worst goals per game and their only player with more than 25 goals is Lee Stempniak, which does not bode well… If more than 5,000 people show up to support the Coyotes.

Detroit Wins If… They continue their post-Olympic play… If Jimmy Howard looks in front of him and sees Nicklas Lidstrom… If Ilya Bryzgalov looks in front of him and sees Ed Jovanovski… If Detroit absolutely kills Phoenix in game one and sets the tone for the entire series.

Prediction: Detroit in 5 – Phoenix is getting no respect, which is the only thing that worries me. They might use the whole ‘us against the world’ angle and rally off a few wins.


Winston Churchill said...

London was not shelled in WWII, only bombed, where is my cigar?

Matt Horner said...

I did know that, I guess I was erroneously using shelled and bombed interchangeably. Just so no one gets the impression that I'm completely clueless. My apologies Sir Winston.

Ted said...

Keeping it pretty conservative here, Roy. No outlandish predictions, outside of the Philly over Jersey, which is looking good for you so far. I have to agree with most of your picks, but from what I saw last night of Ottawa/Pittsburgh, ya boy Sid's got a lot of heavy lifting to do. Geno might help out too.

Matt Horner said...

I've seen enough Ottawa playoff series to realize that a 1-0 lead means nothing.

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