April 11, 2012

Are you ready for some playoff hockey?!

by Dan Bilicki In: Ice Hockey

The ice hockey playoffs start today – hopefully they’ll finish while it’s still cold enough for ice to naturally be somewhere in North America. So, let’s do a quick roundup of what will happen in the first round.

-The Canucks, who face the Kings, will always have some goaltending questions until either A) Roberto Luongo comes through in the clutch or B) Luongo is traded away and then Cory Schneider comes through in the clutch. They were the best regular-season team in the NHL and it will be a disappointment if they don’t make it at least back to the Cup final. That said, L.A. is just good enough to give them a decent run for their money.

-The Red Wings, for all their experience, are going to have a tough time with the Predators. Nashville usually surprises in the playoffs and have the defence that it takes to make a run. Combine that with the fact that these two are division rivals and quite familiar with each other and this one should be a stellar seven-game series.

-The Flyers and Penguins hate each other, which means this one will be feisty. The Penguins are the favourite to win it all with Sidney Crosby back, but Philly beat the Pens every time they went to Pittsburgh this season. Anything can happen here, but the one thing for sure to expect is a physical series from start to finish.

-The Washington Capitals haven’t looked this bad in the years, but with Alex Ovechkin still in town, they’re still dangerous. The Bruins will be favoured and Washington will be riding a minor-league goalie thanks to injuries, but don’t expect them to roll over. If they do, I would expect a lot of changes in the U.S. capital.

-The No. 3 seed in each conference are ripe for upsets. Both Florida and Phoenix had lower point totals than their first-round opponents – New Jersey and Chicago, respectively. So while the division winners will have home-ice advantage, they don’t have the talent advantage. Especially with Jonathan Toews coming back for the Blackhawks and Martin Brodeur anchoring the Devils, expect some upsets.

-There probably won’t be more than one Canadian team left after the first round, seeing how the Ottawa Senators are stuck facing the first-seeded Rangers. There best they can wish for is hoping that Henrik Lundqvist has a bad night and maybe the Sens can steal a game. Advancing is out of the question.

Leave a Reply