April 14, 2010

NHL playoff preview

by Dan Bilicki In: Ice Hockey, Picks

Yes, it’s that time of the year again. The weather outside is getting warmer, baseball season is under way and the Maple Leafs are booking their golf dates. Yes, it’s time for the woefully long NHL playoffs.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Ice hockey should not be played all the way into June. How about shortening the regular season by about 10 games and keeping the playoffs in the months that there might actually be a chance of chilly weather in the north?

Well, that’s just a pipe dream (for now) so let’s get to breaking down the first-round matchups.

In the Eastern Conference, the top seeded Washington Capitals should have a problem dropping the Montreal Canadiens. When the highest-scoring team in the league takes on a team with goaltending issues, that’s a recipe for a sweep.
Pick: Washington over Montreal in 4.

The Flyers snuck into the playoffs on the last day of the season and get to face their rivals, New Jersey. At one end of the ice, you have one of the greatest goaltenders to ever play. In the other crease, it’s Brian Boucher. This one shouldn’t take too long as Ilya Kovalchuk finally gets a playoff series win.
Pick: New Jersey over Philadelphia in 6.

Another matchup of division rivals, this one has a big, intriguing matchup. The Bruins can’t score and the Sabres have Ryan Miller between the pipes. This series won’t see a lot of goals and it’s easy to see Miller outplay Tuukka Rask.
Pick: Buffalo over Boston in 6.

The defending champion Penguins couldn’t take their division from the Devils and have to settle for being the fourth seed. They shouldn’t have any problems with the inconsistent Senators, though. Sid the Kid is destined for a second-round match with Ovie and the Caps.
Pick: Pittsburgh over Ottawa in 4.

In the Western Conference, the headliners take on an inconsistent team that’s still in the rebuilding process. Sure, the Sharks have had their share of chokes in recent playoffs, but beating Colorado isn’t too much of a challenge.
Pick: San Jose over Colorado in 5.

A lot of people will be taking the Blackhawks to make the Cup final, but can they really be trusted with Antti Niemi between the pipes? Their series with Nashville will go a long way towards showing us what these kids are made of.
Pick: Chicago over Nashville in 6.

Roberto Luongo hasn’t been great all year long, with the exception of Team Canada’s gold medal run. If he shows up like he did in February, the Canucks could take out the upstart Kings, but if he gets the hook, L.A. advances without a problem.
Pick: Los Angeles over Vancouver in 7.

There might be some court room drama overshadowing the fact that Phoenix has made the playoffs, but it’s a great story nonetheless. Facing the red-hot Red Wings is no easy task and this post-season appearance should be a short one for the Coyotes.
Pick: Detroit over Phoenix in 6.


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  2. [...] really goes to show how much I know (read: care) about the NHL, when I only hit on half of my first round winners, but there was at least one trend that cropped up, especially during last night’s game, that I [...]

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