Wednesday, April 14, 2010

2010 NHL Playoff Preditions: Round 1

The NHL will be glad for another year that the NHL regular season came down to the wire as many NHL teams were vying for that final playoff spot. Controversially, the New York Rangers fell out when they lost in a shoot-out to the Flyers who jummped up themselves in the standings. We see some new faces in this year's playoffs. I bet Los Angeles, Nashville, Phoenix and Buffalo fans are glad they get to watch some more hockey.


Western Conference

San Jose v. Colorado

I would be truly stupid and irresponsible to pick the Sharks after getting burned yet again. I know a couple of Sharks fans who have also gotten their hearts broken by the earlier than expected exit. But being a little wiser now, I can suggest that this will be a series that will help the young Avalanche players develop into a new generation of hockey since losing hall of famers Roy, Sakic, C. Lemieux, Bourque, et al. Look for Duchene and O'Riley to grow into future leaders.

Prediction: Avalanche in 7

Vancouver vs Los Angeles

The Los Angeles Kings have finally turned a corner in the rebuilding and even became buyers at the trading deadline. This is where Slovenian-born Anze Kopitar will either shine or sink as an NHL player. Vancouver is once again the only hope for Canada nationally for any chance that the Stanley Cup comes back to a Canadian team. Look for Luongo and company to slide into the next round.

Prediction: Vancouver in 6

Detroit vs. Phoenix

The "Cinderella story" of the Phoenix Coyotes has added a few more chapters to the season when last year at this time, they were one foot out the door for parts unknown - or even into oblivion. In Detroit, the bloom is off the rose and the challenges they face post-Stevey Y generation seems to run deeper than what was once understood. Phoenix's quicker than expected turn-around seems like the Gretzky coaching experiment was casting a heavier shadow. Look for them to continue shocking the world and advance to the next round.

Prediction: Phoenix in 7

Chicago vs Nashville

I bet you can not name more than 3 players on the Nashville Predators team. Quietly, they were consistent in sneaking up the playoff contention rankings. Pekka Rinne was a good goaltender forged by the roster depth in a Nashville system. "20 cent" Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews are also showing a lot of talent in Chicago to which many people in the media are picking them as the playoff darlings. I suspect a heavily prepared Predators team to defense the Blackhawks, but Chicago will find a way to win.

Prediction: Chicago in 7

Eastern Conference

Montreal v. Washington

Montreal looks to be an interesting match-up with the Capitals. Ovechkin will most likely serve up some rocket blasts for goals. Montreal is a paper tiger as they fell into 8th place when the Rangers were rendered done for the year. Montreal may have the speed to keep pace with the Capitals scoring threat, but how many shots will actually beat "Propecia boy" Theodore?

Prediction: Washington in 4

Pittsburgh v. Ottawa

Again? Seriously! Again? Alright. Even without Kovalev, the Senators have an uphill climb to have drawn the short straw and play the defending champions in the first round.

Prediction: Pittsburgh in 5

Buffalo v. Boston

This is the series that may look more black and blue than cut and dry. These two teams are evenly matched even though they are on opposite sides of the standings. Look for Rask to make Toronto fans regretful they had to give him up too. Buffalo has a really great core group of young players like Vanek, Kennedy, and Myers. Look for Buffalo to eek out a series victory on the back of their great goaltender Ryan Miller.

Prediction: Sabres in 7

New Jersey v. Philadelphia

This series doesn't quite match up like the other ones in that the time spent traveling is contained within the tri-state area. I bet the Flyers and Devils players actually go home and sleep in their own beds every night before making the trip away. Look for more Brodeur struggling as the law of diminishing returns takes hold of this legendary goaltender. The Flyers will have to defend the Kovalchick when they had the upper hand in the regular season series.

Prediction: New Jersey in 7
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