April 11, 2007

NHL Playoff Preview

by Dan Bilicki In: Ice Hockey

Yes, it’s that time of year, when flowers begin to blossom and the Toronto Maple Leafs begin to work on their golf game; it’s the NHL playoffs. Here is your favourite blogger’s (and his lazy intern’s finals) picks for the NHL’s postseason.

Buffalo Sabres vs. New York Islanders: It’s tough to go against the President’s Trophy winners in the first round but the Isles have been extremely hot; they had to be to sneak into eighth. This series will be closer than it looks on paper. Sabres in 6.

New Jersey Devils vs. Tampa Bay Lightning: One thing is for sure, when the Devils play playoff hockey, it’s the boringest thing to watch this side of LPGA golf. It’s too bad their style works so well. Devils in 5.

Atlanta Thrashers vs. New York Rangers: Two teams with high-powered offenses meet up in what should be a fire-wagon series. Expect a lot of goals, a lot of shell-shocked goalies and, I think, an upset. Rangers in 6.

Ottawa Senators vs. Pittsburgh Penguins: Sidney Crosby makes his postseason debut against a team that’s known to choke in the playoffs. Everyone exluding Ottawa natives doesn’t like this team for some reason and it’s this reason that they’ll win, as much as don’t want to pick them. Senators in 6.

Detroit Red Wings vs. Calgary Flames: While the Flames do have the playoff experience to make it past Detroit, they backed into the playoffs with 4 straight losses to end the season. It’s hard to pick a team with that kind of momentum. Red Wings in 5.

Anaheim Ducks vs. Minnesota Wild: Can you name five players on the Wild? I’m hard pressed to and I work in newspaper sports department. The Ducks are the popular pick to go to the finals and win it all and there’s no reason they can’t manhandle the Wild. Ducks in 4.

Vancouver Canucks vs. Dallas Stars: Much will be made of Roberto Luongo’s lack of playoff experience but it won’t matter – this guy is great. The Stars also have Marty Turco, whose past playoff experiences (failures) have been well documented. Canucks in 6.

Nashville Predators vs. San Jose Sharks: By far the best looking match up in the first round. This is going to be hockey at its best and we’re talking good hockey – not the goonery that you can catch whenever the Toronto Maple Leafs are in town. Thornton vs. Forsberg is a bona fide marquee match up and the goaltenders are top shelf as well. The hardest pick of the first round: Nashville in 7.

As for the rest of the playoffs:

The Finals: Ducks over Devils
Intern’s pick: Ducks over everyone.

MVP: Scott Neidermayer
Intern’s Pick: Bjorn Melin

Disclaimer: The intern knows nothing about hockey.

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