My Stanley Cup Playoff picks didn't exactly set the world on fire in terms of debate and comments last April, but they were a lot of fun to do! So, here's this year's serving of hockey picks and cheesecake!
Also, I should note that my Stanley Cup Finals prediction of Sharks vs. Penguins, made on video last October as the season was just getting underway and both teams were in the tank, is looking mighty smart now, if all the experts are to be believed.
(1) Montreal Canadiens vs. (8) Boston Bruins
The Habs owned the Bruins all year, going a perfect 8-0 against them in the season series. And Montreal dominated those games, outscoring Boston 39-16. They might win a game, I can't see a way Boston avoids getting steamrolled. Which, since they're from Boston, I would find hilarious. Canadiens in five.
(2) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. (7) Ottawa Senators
These teams meet again in the first round for the second straight year. Last year I underestimated the veteran Sens, and they went out and thrashed the Pens in five games on the way to the finals where they lost to the Ducks. This is a different Ottawa team, however, almost choked their way out of the playoffs entirely after an amazing start to the season. Their best player is hurt, they've got one goalie who's a nutjob and another who's not very good, and are generally going in the wrong direction. Conversely, the young Penguins have weathered their first playoffs and the disappointment that comes with losing, are finally healthy and and are getting spectacular play from netminder Marc-Andre Fleury. You'd think I would have learned some humility after picking the Pens in six last April and being completely wrong, but I'm going to fly in the face of superstition and pick the Penguins in five.
(3) Washington Capitals vs. (6) Philadelphia Flyers
This is a toughie, as both of these teams were on the outside of the playoffs looking in just a short while ago. The Capitals are flying high right now, wresting the division title from the Carolina Hurricanes in their final game of the season, while the Flyers rebounded from being the worst team in the NHL last year. Washington has all-everything superstar Alex Ovechkin, while Philly has a lot of no-names whose game plan is to break the ankles of the other teams best player. Trouble is, sometimes it actually works. I'm not gonna lie to you...I hate both these teams...but I hate the Caps a lot less, so I'm gonna pick them to win it. Capitals in seven.
(4) New Jersey Devils vs. (5) New York Rangers
If you're having trouble sleeping, why not skip the Ambien and tune into this series, which promises to be a complete snooze. Both teams have great goaltenders, play stiff, choking defence, and can't score for shit. The Rangers won seven of eight games against the Devils this season, but unlike the Canadiens/Bruins matchups, the games were very close, with several having to be decided in overtime. I give the nod to New York 'cause they have more ex-Penguins, and because they're just slightly less horrid offensively than New Jersey. Rangers in six.
(1) Detroit Red Wings vs. (8) Nashville Predators
This one might not be the cakewalk it appears to be for the Red Wings, who amassed more points than any other team this season. Nashville is in the same division as the Wings, and played them tough in eight regular-season meetings. In the end, though, I expect Detroit's star-studded lineup to win out. Also, if the Preds win, chances improve that I'll have to hear someone use the exceedingly annoying term "Nash Vegas". Red Wings in six.
(2) San Jose Sharks vs. (7) Calgary Flames
It sucks having my two favorite Western Conference teams meet up in the first round, as it means one of them will be eliminated early...but it oughta be awfully entertaining while it lasts. Cal-gary's good, but the Sharks are on an absolute tear, having won something like 19 of their last 20. I don't think the Flames can keep up. Sharks in six.
(3) Minnesota Wild vs. (6) Colorado Avalanche
The only two teams in the playoffs with singular names face off in what figures to be a pretty even series. That's what I've read, anyway...I've only seen maybe one period of a Wild or Avs game all season. I've gone back and forth several times just while writing this paragraph, but I think I'll go with the Avalanche- no, the Wild in seven.
(4) Anaheim Ducks vs. (5) Dallas Stars
I don't really care much for the Dallas Stars...in fact, I have problems with the whole concept of Texas. But I flatly refuse to draw those lameass, shitass Ducks jerseys. They actually redesigned them over the summer to fit the new RBK Edge jersey template...and this is all they came up with? Makes me nostalgic for this. Anyway, screw 'em...they're ugly. Oh, and their captain, Chris Pronger, is a turd. Stars in seven.