Posting playoff predictions is a fool's game**, I realize, but it was fun last year and cool that friends weighed in with their own predictions in the comments. Please do so again -- who do you think is surviving the first round this year?
1. vs 8.
I can only imagine the tension building in Nicole's family right now -- she's torn between her Bruins-adoring husband and her lifelong-Habs-fan father. Little Palmer has jerseys from both clubs, but can he really pick between them without shattering the family's stability? Anyway, this wasn't supposed to be a post about family drama. I'm going Canadian here, not because of misguided patriotism, but because I like the Habs this year -- they've got some character, some good storylines, and they've been winning like mad. Montreal in 5.
2. vs 7.
Obviously Pittsburgh's hot right now, with piles of wins and buzz...and there is a lot to like about their team despite Ty Conklin's freaky streak. We got to witness Malkin ripping it up in the world juniors in Kelowna a few years back, and it's cool to see him dominate now. Also seems like most of the pundits are picking them to dump Ottawa, so the contrarian in me wants to disagree. I think the Senators are better than their recent record indicates, although maybe not without Fisher and Alfredsson. I've always really liked the team, so my heart says Ottawa, but I'm predicting Penguins in 6.
3. vs 6.
Washington seems to have Pittsburgh-level buzz, and Ovechkin's goal scoring is something to behold, but are they really good enough to go deep this year? I think not, even without knowing much about this year's version of the Flyers. Flyers in 6.
4. vs 5.
The Devils still strike me as supremely boring; an impossible team to cheer for. I'm no real Rangers fan either, but...forced to choose: Rangers in 7.
1. vs 8.
Nashville plays with a lot of heart, and I admire their pluck in getting into the playoffs again, but this is a brutal matchup. Detroit looks like a powerhouse again, and I'm not expecting even a whiff of an upset. Wings in 4.
2. vs 7.
My general hatred of the Flamers took a hit this last week, even as they pounded the Canucks 7-1 in the final game of the season. At the end of the game, pretty much the whole team came back onto the ice to shake hands with Trevor Linden, who will likely be retiring. Plus, I've never been able to muster any dislike for Iginla -- the guy is pretty much a hockey god. I like Regehr and Kiprusoff too, at least when they're not punishing the Canucks. So although I'll never actively cheer for any team containing Dion Phaneuf, Calgary is the underdog in this lopsided matchup and I wouldn't mind seeing them upset the big bad Sharks (actually I don't mind the Sharks either). Don't think it'll happen, though. Sharks in 6.
3. vs 6.
Two of the Canucks' northwest rivals squaring off, and I don't like either team. The presence of Ryan Smyth makes Colorado my sentimental pick, I suppose, and I've always liked Sakic and Foote too. Colorado in 7.
4. vs 5.
I liked Anaheim in their march to the cup last year, maybe mostly because of some of those old Winnipeg Jets connections. They were tough, fast and intense. Dallas was painfully boring to watch and I don't think they're that good. Anaheim in 5.
** Especially when I don't have cable and have watched very few of the games this year. I'm bummed that Edmonton and Vancouver didn't make it, so honestly it's been hard to care much this year. That said, the first round is always my favourite time of the hockey season and I'll try to catch some games.