Thursday, April 29, 2010
I did pretty well with my predictions, being betrayed by only Washington and Buffalo. I’m actually happy that my Buffalo prediction was wrong because I hate Buffalo. That’s a positive.
I will take the blame for Montreal’s upset. I said that Washington will win the series if the Earth doesn’t implode before game 4. I didn’t take my prediction seriously and the Hockey Gods chose to punish me. Yup, that’s why the Canadiens won, not because they blocked 1324324 shots and saved 2314463465 more.
I’m certainly not happy that Montreal upset Washington, but it’s not the worst thing that could have happened.
Now the Leafs can rope the Capitals into a panic trade for Kaberle where Brian Burke has his pick of primo prospects.
In other fantasy news, Washington losing is really good for my fantasy sports life. I chose late in the first round and was excluded from the best Washington players, which was fortunate since I wasn’t necessarily convinced they could beat Pittsburgh anyways. Now it’s really fortunate considering they couldn’t even beat Montreal! The only Capitals player I chose was Mike Knuble. Most of the other poolies banked pretty hard on Washington. As a result, I am one of two people with nine players remaining, while the rest have six or less. I’m feeling confident with my seven Pittsburgh and Chicago players.
But you’re not reading this to hear me gloat about fantasy hockey. Onto the second round breakdown!
Pittsburgh (4) vs. Montreal (8)
Pittsburgh Wins If… The Penguins don’t take the Canadiens lightly. They must rely on more than just their skill to propel them to victory. They need to outwork the Habs. This shouldn’t be a problem considering Sidney Crosby is the hardest working player in the game, but after the Washington debacle it needed to be said… If Marc-Andre Fleury plays like every other French-Canadian that plays in Montreal against the Canadiens - which is amazing. It’s the same as GTA players who take special pleasure in destroying the Leafs in Toronto… If the mobile Pittsburgh defence can change enough shooting angles so that the Canadiens can’t block as many shots as they did against Washington.
Montreal Wins If… Nobody tells Jaroslav Halak that the special Michael Jordan Space Jam juice he’s drinking is really just water (shout out to Phil for the line)… If Hal Gill continues his effective NHL 09 style of defence where he just lays down in front of the net… If Gary Bettman continues to stupidly refuse to put the fix in for the league superstars. Thanks for ruining a potential Pittsburgh-Washington conference final, Gary. Haven’t you heard the NHL is invisible in the states? You came from the NBA; you’re trying to tell me you don’t know how to fix a game? This logic would mean he’s actively trying to promote the NHL and not destroy it from the inside, which we all know is false.
Prediction: Pittsburgh in 5
Boston (6) vs. Philadelphia (7)
Boston Wins If… Marc Savard is actually healthy enough to play, not just Eric Lindros in the 2000 Eastern Conference Finals healthy… If Michael Ryder continues to play with an edge and decides to really stick it to his former team (note: yup, that's me fucking up right there. glad there are readers actually paying attention - I'll leave it in as a cautionary tale)… If Zdeno Chara renounces pacifism and plays like the angry ogre he really is. We get it Zdeno, you scared yourself when you rag dolled McCabe years ago, but you can’t play like Brian Gionta just because you’re scared you might hurt someone. Someone needs to make Chara a little WWPD bracelet (What Would Pronger Do?)… If Tuukka Rask doesn’t need to vastly outplay his counterpart. It’s Boucher, this fairy tale can’t last forever.
Philadelphia Wins If… The absence of Simon Gagne and Jeff Carter is mitigated by Claude Giroux and James van Riemsdyk. Both will play an increased role while the two snipers sit out and it is vital that they are both key pieces to the offense… If Brian Boucher continues his improbable comeback from hockey obscurity… If Mike Richards’ shoulders are broad enough for the whole team to jump on… If Chris Pronger’s nasty play doesn’t inspire Zdeno Chara to play the same way… If Daniel Carcillo can effectively straddle the line between helping and harming the Flyers with his cantankerous play.
Prediction: Philadelphia in 6 – I’d like you to take a moment to realize that the sixth place Bruins have home ice advantage in this series. What the Hell happened in the first round!?
San Jose (1) vs. Detroit (5)
San Jose Wins If… The Big 3 show up and actually perform. Heatley, Marleau, and Thornton combined for only one goal through the first series, while registering an ugly -9 rating… If the Sharks second line continues to play like its first. The Sharks were able to survive the first round despite the lack of production from the top line because Pavelski, Clowe, and Setoguchi combined for nine goals, three of which were game winners… If Dan Boyle focuses on scoring on the opposition instead of Evgeni Nabokov… If the Sharks learned from their first round scare and come out hungry and focused… If Detroit’s experience and poise don’t intimidate the Sharks into submission.
Detroit Wins If… Datsyuk and Zetterberg are able to outperform Heatley, Marleau, and Thornton. Detroit’s best players played like their best players in the opening round and they will need their big guns leading the way if they want to win… If Tomas Holmstrom can throw Evgeni Nabokov off his game by taking up permanent residence in front of the net. Nabokov is already nervous in big games and having a brick wall blocking his view won’t help… If the Sharks revert back to the nervous team that started the first round, rather than the confident team that finished it.
Prediction: Detroit in 6
Chicago (2) vs. Vancouver (3)
Chicago Wins If… Antti Niemi discontinues his good game-bad game routine and plays consistently behind one of the best defensive units in the league… If Marian Hossa doesn’t insist upon being hated by every single team in the league by doing something stupid. Seriously, how many fan bases boo him constantly when he touches the puck? A lot… If the Hawks can get Roberto Luongo to move side to side... If the Hawks can score early and often in the first game, thus ensuring they will be in Luongo’s head all series… If Brian Campbell is seriously healthy enough to play over 20 minutes a game against one of the league’s highest scoring teams.
Vancouver Wins If… Roberto Luongo isn’t severely traumatized by last year’s playoff collapse against the Hawks where he gave up a whopping seven goals on 30 shots in game 6. We’ll know for sure after he lets up his first goal in Chicago and this song plays. If he begins slowing rocking back and forth on the ice the Canucks are done… If the Canucks continue to receive well-balanced scoring behind the Sedins. Mikael Samuelsson and company must continue to score at a good clip because the Hawks tandem of Keith and Seabrook are the best in the NHL and could very well shut down the Sedins… If Alex Edler and Kevin Bieksa can fill the void of Willie Mitchell and play a physical game that wears down the Chicago forwards.
Prediction: Chicago in 7