Wednesday, April 23, 2008

NHL Playoff Report

In the spirit of more predictions, I thought it would be a good time for a little NHL playoff talk, complete with random thoughts....

-ESPN needs to get the NHL back. Having it on NBC isn't too bad, and I don't hate the coverage on Versus, but the fact remains that it's on Versus. A lot of people I'm sure don't even get Versus. Of course, if you live in the north country like I do you get CBC, which is the best channel ever.

-My biggest problem with the NHL playoff structure is the division winners getting the top three seeds. The Washington Capitals should have finished in 7th in the East, but since they won their division they were rewarded with a 3 seed and home ice in the first round. Of course justice was served when they lost to the Flyers. Out West it wasn't as bad, the 3rd seeded Wild would have been bumped down to the 4 seed if the NHL ran their playoffs correctly. Although they did manage to win their division with only a +5 goal differential, maybe they should have played the lottery instead. Justice was served there when they were bounced by (and dominated by) the Avs in 6 games.

-Speaking of the Avs, Jordan Leopold was a healthy scratch for the first 3 games of that series, and then in Game 4 he was probably the best player on the ice.

-Segue into the healthy scratch category: the Bruins sat their 3rd leading scorer Phil Kessel for the first pair of games. Kessel was also one of only 3 Bruins players to play in all of their regular season games. Puzzling to say the least.

-Some Cup favorites struggled in their opening round series'. Montreal went 7 with Boston, although in the games I watched they look like the much better team. The defending champs got bounced by the Dallas Stars and Marty Turco, one of the NHL's most embattled goalies. And the San Jose Sharks, who a lot of experts have picked to win the Stanley Cup, went 7 with the Calgary Flames. In the end I still like the Sharks to come out of the West, but more and more it looks like an East team could win the cup.

- The team that has looked the best so far, and hopefully I'm not jinxing them, is the Pittsburgh Penguins. Granted Ottawa is awful, but the Penguins defense really showed up, and if they bring that every series they're going to be tough to beat. Everyone knows they can score with anybody, but now it looks as if their D can at least hold teams off enough, and Marc Andre Fleury could be blossoming into the type of goalie that can stand on his head for the majority of a series.

Ok enough with that, on to the Round 2 predictions:

West: (1) Red Wings over (6) Avalanche in 6 games
The Wings struggled to put away Nashville while the Avs dominated the Wild. That being said, unless Jose Theodore stands on his head, the Wings just have too much skill to be denied in this one.

(2) Sharks over (5) Stars in 5 games
The real Marty Turco returns as Joe Thorton really starts to make a bid for the Conn Smythe Trophy. The Sharks also have a pair of good young former collegians in Joe Pavelski from Wisconsin, and Matt Carle who won the Hobey Baker award at Denver.

East: (1) Canadiens over (6) Flyers in 7 games
Both these teams go 7 again, and the Canadiens have just enough again. Carey Price, a former first round draftee, looks to be the real deal and the Canadiens showed why they have the league's top ranked power play in that game 7 win over the Bruins. Since the Bruins 3rd leading scorer had less than 20 goals, their margin for error is very slim.

(2) Penguins over (5) Rangers in 6 games
I'm tempted to say 5 here, but Henrik Lunqvist can definitely steal a game or two. A quick and dirty look at the numbers suggest that he should win the Vezina Trophy as the league's top goaltender. But I just think Crosby, Malkin and company have too much for the Rangers blue line corps and win it in 6.

Thats all for now, feel free to bash my predictions in the comments.


Stefan Ming said...

Hey Fetch you might actually be right on some picks for once...

stephen a said...

Oh what's that I have 3 series right right now? Oh yeah that's what I thought.