Ye olde playoff predictions

I left this jusssst a bit too long to beat the official start of the 2007 Stanley Cup Playoffs, but I assure you my takes and thoughts have not been at all altered by the 2-0 lead Ottawa holds over Pittsburgh midway through the second period. If you insist on doubting me because you’re a naturally untrusting person, my first-round selections were sent to CapsChick yesterday for her blogger playoff pool, so she can vouch for me.

Playoff predictions are my favourite thing to do. I start in on them about 40 games into the season, imagining ways the Flames can win the Stanley Cup. Remember, I am under no obligation to be objective here. But that doesn’t mean I can’t make a solid argument. So, with that …

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Quarterfinals

(1) Buffalo vs. (8) New York Islanders

I might have given the Isles a game here, had they not blown that 2-0 lead to the Devils in the last five minutes of their last game. There ain’t gonna be no shootouts in the playoffs, boys. I actually like the Islanders. They’re plucky, hard-working and the longer Ryan Smyth and M.A. Bergeron go into the playoffs, the worse Oilers fans feel. But as hard as they work, Daniel Briere and friends are going to make pylons out of Brendan Witt and Sean Hill.

The Pick: Buffalo in four.

(2) New Jersey vs. (7) Tampa Bay

I still love the way Tampa plays the game, but their fatal flaw remains: You can’t play that game and be ultimately successful without a top flight goalie. And I don’t think Johan Holmqvist is at that level yet. The big three might be able to carry them against any other opponent, but not the New Jersey Brodeurs.

The Pick: Devils in six.

(3) Atlanta vs. (6) New York Rangers

Keith Tkachuk is a bum. At least, he’s a bigger bum than Jaromir Jagr, and the Thrashers don’t have Brendan Shanahan.

The Pick: Rangers in five.

(4) Ottawa vs. (5) Pittsburgh

Cliché explanation of the day: Sidney Crosby is going to win the Stanley Cup one day. Many Stanley Cups. But this is the year he learns from his mistakes, finds out what the NHL playoffs are all about. Ottawa, the best team in the NHL over the final three quarters, has something to prove this year, and nothing will stand in their way.

The Pick: Senators in five.

Semifinals

(1) Buffalo vs. (6) New York Rangers

It’ll be fun to see little Buffalo take on big New York, especially since little Buffalo will make the Rangers remember that they’ve got a ways to go until they’re good enough to get further than the second round. Henrik Lundqvist will steal a game, but Buffalo’s the real deal.

The pick: Sabres in four.

(2) New Jersey vs. (4) Ottawa

Well, Martin Brodeur doesn’t win the cup every year, does he. And as Bob Cole just pointed out, Ottawa is hungry this year.

The pick: Senators in six.

Conference Final

(1) Buffalo vs. (4) Ottawa

This will be a dream series, obviously. The two best teams in the conference all year long, who waged some epic battles during the season, meet for the right to reach the Stanley Cup final. If it goes down, this will likely be the best series of the playoffs, bar none. Buffalo will want it, that much is certain. But Ottawa, sniffing redemption after all this time, will want it just a bit more.

The pick: Senators in seven.

WESTERN CONFERENCE

Quarterfinals

(1) Detroit vs. (8) Calgary

I think I’ve covered this one.

The Pick: Flames in six.

(2) Anaheim vs. (7) Minnesota

I’m still kind of awed by how quickly Brian Burke made the Ducks a monster. The Wild had an incredible second half, and Niklas Backstrom looks like the real thing in goal for them. But something tells me Chris Pronger is going to break Marian Gaborik’s hip in Game 1 and Anaheim will roll from there. That’s another way of saying that Minnesota’s “improved” offence can’t stop the thunder constantly created by Anaheim’s Top 4 on the blueline.

The Pick: Ducks in six.

(3) Vancouver vs. (6) Dallas

Marty Turco is the Pavel Datsyuk of goaltenders. All good during the regular season, AHL quality come April. Mike Smith’s a good backup, but we’re not looking at the next Cam Ward here — not with “Bobby Lou” (how annoying is that, nickname, by the way) on the other end. This hurts me, because saying anything positive about the Canucks hurts me, but I think this matchup favours the Canucks on every level — they’re going to overwhelm the Stars with their physical play.

The Pick: Canucks in four.

(4) Nashville vs. (5) San Jose

I don’t know what happened to Nashville at the end of the year, but they haven’t been good. Couple that with their inflated record thanks to playing in the el crappo Central Division, and you’ve got San Jose getting past the first round yet again.

The Pick: Sharks in seven.

Semifinals

(2) Anaheim vs. (8) Calgary

Dion Phaneuf fights Chris Pronger at the start of Game 1 and the Dion hits him so hard that he hurts his feelings. Prongs spends the rest of the series chasing Dion around, leaving plenty of space for Kristian Huselius to dipsy doodle his way to power-play fuelled revenge in his second consecutive huge series against Anaheim.

The Pick: Flames in six.

(3) Vancouver vs. (5) San Jose

No team that has that many fans who wear oversized gold chains with their Todd Bertuzzi jerseys to all their games has a chance to go past one round. And Roberto Luongo is human, meaning he’s succeptible to defeat when the team on the other end has more depth at every position.

The Pick: Sharks in seven.

Conference Final

(5) San Jose vs. (8) Calgary

It happens every year: At some point in the playoffs, Ron Wilson’s attitude starts to grate on his players, and they stop caring if they win for him. Meanwhile, on the other side, Jim Playfair has just started to hit his stride, and is chanelling all the good feelings he used to help win the Calder Cup with Saint John in 2000-2001, and David Moss is becoming his 2006-2007 version of Steve Begin.

The Pick: Flames in five.

STANLEY CUP FINAL

Ottawa vs. Calgary

Did you know that as a Canadian, I’m obligated to predict an all-Canada Stanley Cup final? It’s true! But anyway, once teams reach the final, I make my prediction based solely on which team’s captain I can picture raising the cup more realistically. I had Carolina winning last year after the second round for just that reason. So, unless Daniel Alfreddsson is seriously injured and couldn’t possibly get on the ice for the cup celebration, and he names Dany “I look more like a hockey player than anyone else in the world” Heatley as his replacement, It’s going to be Iggy raising the cup.

The Pick: Calgary in six (just like ’89).

(And if it isn’t Calgary, I do pick Ottawa over San Jose. I’m just saying.)

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~ by duncan on April 11, 2007.

3 Responses to “Ye olde playoff predictions”

  1. I enjoyed reading your predictions, as well as your vivid description of Canuck fans. Are you exaggerating or is it accurate?

  2. […] a blogger playoff pool, especially since I’m the huge FIRST ROUND (co)WINNER after correctly predicting the winner in seven of eight first-round series. The only blemish on my record? Calling a Calgary win over Detroit, of course. As you know, […]

  3. […] games on this side of the continent, so here’s my call on the conference finals that I wrote way back at the beginning of the playoffs: (1) Buffalo vs. (4) […]

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