Tuesday, April 08, 2008

2008 Stanley Cup Playoff Predictions - Round 1

A crazy season deserves a really outrageous post-season. The long debate about how the playoff qualifiers and the NHL's point dispersal is quite controversial, but we have the teams ready to vie for hockey's greatest prize. Here goes my talking points on the opening rounds of the playoffs.


Western Conference

Detroit v. Nashville
Just think - the Predators were one foot away from leaving Tennessee. They were stripped bare of competitive household name players. Management tried to get out of their lease. Then a "carpetbagger" wants to move them to Hamilton. Despite all of the off-ice news, the Predators qualified for the playoffs. The Red Wings have underestimated their playoff opponents before. They were shocked by the Sharks. I wonder if the Wings are focused this year. I see Detroit as being solid from top to bottom.
Prediction: Wings in 5

San Jose v. Calgary
The league's hottest team in the Western Conference is the San Jose Sharks. They built themselves for "failure is not an option" mode. Thorton, Marleau and Roenick look ready for the long haul. Calgary's "lunch pail" style and Phaneuf's defense will only take them so far. The Flames will flicker out when the Sharks start frequently circling the goal net.
Prediction: San Jose in 4

Minnesota v. Colorado
The story of this series is if the Avalanche can go Back to the Future. Their game plan is to bring back some players that were key in their previous Stanley Cup wins. Look for the media to focus on Forsberg and Sakic rekindling past success.
Prediction: Minnesota in 7

Anaheim vs Dallas

This is an interesting match up with nothing really standing out about it. The Ducks got a late season surge with the influx of veterans, but they ain't no spring chickens. The defending champs may make an honorable run at it, but my guess it will be the Stars who pull through with a younger team.
Prediction: Dallas in 7

Eastern Conference

Montreal v. Boston

Remember when Mike Ribiero took a dive and whined in the playoffs 2 years ago like he almost died, yet was found on the bench a few minutes later laughing it up? Yup! This is going to be a great "Original 6" series. I don't think Boston has enough in the tank this time to survive the Canadiens. Look for Carey Price to show why he has the franchise's faith and support of his teammates.
Prediction: Montreal in 4

Pittsburgh v. Ottawa

Crosby and Whitney had discussed this together a few weeks ago. They both concluded that no matter what they do, they were destined to meet the Ottawa Senators in the first round. The Pens are strong at home this year, so getting the #2 seed will work in their advantage this time around. The Senators are in disarray. I just don't think these guys have the time now to rally and get their collective head on straight. Look for Alfredsson to come back at the "too little too late" point.
Prediction: Pittsburgh in 6

Washington v. Philadelphia

The surprise team in this is the Southeastern division is the Washington Capitals. They are the new media darlings surpassing the Pittsburgh Penguins as the top headlining story for this years playoffs. This is Ovechkin's first playoff appearance as a reward to his 65+ goal scoring season. Philadelphia will probably get sent back on their heels and when they find themselves backed against a wall, they will most likely resort to typical Flyers hockey.
Prediction: Capitals in 7

New Jersy v. NY Rangers

This is a classic series of two teams evenly matched. The winner will be the last one standing... obviously. I still think Brodeur is starting the down slope of his career, so look for Jagr and Co. to light the lamp more frequently.
Prediction: Rangers in 6
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