Tuesday, April 13, 2010

NHL Playoffs 2010

Ahh, the annual fool's game -- trying to guess where the upsets might happen, who might fall apart, and which teams will shine. These posts always make it look like I'm a much more passionate fan than I really am. We don't even have cable TV, so my exposure to the NHL is all through online highlights, blogs and the occasional streamed game.

That said, I do love hockey, both playing and following the pros. I joined an eclectic bunch again for our hockey pool this season, including Plett, Brent F., and old classmate Warren (Mino) -- ended up in second place on the strength of Art Ross winner Henrik Sedin. I wasn't even close to catching Brent's older brother Jason, who ran away with it -- for all I know, he spent all those decades at U of M researching advanced statistical analysis solely so it could be applied to fantasy hockey. My "methodology" is more...umm...random than that.


Washington (1) vs. Montreal (8)

I don't think I've heard of anyone who has given the Habs even the tiniest chance of an upset here. It would be fine by me if they could win it -- not that I hate the Capitals, but Myron's lifelong Montreal fandom must have rubbed off on me just a bit. At least a Washington win will set up more exciting later rounds: Washington in 5.

New Jersey (2) vs. Philadelphia (7)

I always lose when I bet against Brodeur, but I've never been able to like the Devils. My preferred outcome would be a win for the Flyers, and although I have little conviction, I've gotta have at least one upset in my picks: Philadelphia in 7.

Pittsburgh (3) vs. Ottawa (6)

Ottawa has traditionally been my third-favourite team. They were weird this season, with outrageous winning streaks and horrific slumps, and somehow limped into the playoffs matched up against the defending champs. It doesn't look good for them, and I'll hope for their sake that my prediction is awful: Pittsburgh in 4.

Buffalo (4) vs. Boston (5)

Two teams I don't really follow. Apologies to my cousin-in-law and Bruins superfan Shane -- this is a coin toss: Buffalo in 6.


San Jose (1) vs. Colorado (8)

I've always liked the Sharks better than the Avalanche, and it sure looks like they'll pound the lower seed in this case. If they Canucks can survive their first two rounds, they'll likely face these guys...so I'd be happy if someone at least tires them out a bit, but I don't see that happening: San Jose in 4.

Chicago (2) vs. Nashville (7)

The Blackhawks knocked the Canucks out last year, and look to be more of a powerhouse this year, so I'd love to see them go out in the first round. I doubt it'll happen, and I think they'll be exciting to watch in later rounds. Sadly, I suspect that last year's second-round match-up will be repeated with the same result (a loss for the Canucks). For this round, Nashville's toast: Chicago in 6.

Vancouver (3) vs. Los Angeles (6)

This is a rare one where what I hope for and what I think will transpire are perfectly aligned. Luongo just has to be good enough, which is what he was all season. If Willie Mitchell was back, bolstering a shaky Canuck defense, this could be a sweep. Not that I'm taking the Kings lightly -- they look like a very fast, smart team this year and I think every game will be close. Cousin Richard will be disappointed: Vancouver in 5.

Phoenix (4) vs. Detroit (5)

Nobody wanted their team facing Detroit the way they were winning down the stretch. And despite Phoenix finishing ahead of them, it would seem to be considered an upset if the Coyotes won. I know there isn't much connecting them to the Jets of olden times, but here's hoping: Phoenix in 7.

I'll extend this exercise in futility by predicting the second-rounders as well (subject to change before that round, adjusted for my inevitable misses from this round):
  • Chicago vs Vancouver: Chicago in 7
  • San Jose vs Phoenix: San Jose in 6
  • Washington vs Pittsburgh: Washington in 7
  • Buffalo vs Philadelphia: Buffalo in 6
And since this is already in the realm of ridiculous, I'll say San Jose vs Washington in the final, with San Jose finally ending their playoff curse and taking the cup. Yes, I've made this mistake before, and no, I haven't learned from history.

As always, please feel free to leave your own predictions in the comments section, if this is your sort of thing.

Update After 1st Round:
Well, 5 outta 8 ain't great, but not embarrassing either. Can't believe the Habs pulled off that upset, and my hopes for Phoenix almost came to fruition...Boston and Buffalo was a coin toss, with Boston sounding stronger than I thought. Time to update the second-round crystal-ball gazing:
  • Chicago vs Vancouver: Chicago in 7 (unchanged)
  • San Jose vs Detroit: San Jose in 6 (different opponent than I thought, but same result...interestingly, all three CBC commentators are picking Detroit for this one)
  • Montreal vs Pittsburgh: Pittsburgh in 5 (I probably shouldn't bet against a Canadiens team that whipped Washington)
  • Boston vs Philadelphia: Boston in 6 (Boucher was lucky in Round 1)
I had Washington in the final, but Pittsburgh seems a better bet at this point, with San Jose still taking home the cup.


The Squirrel Hunter said...

Alright, don't have time to get all wordy, but here goes:
Caps in 5. Firepower.
Devils in 6. Brodeur.
Sabres in 5. My Bruins can't score.
Pens in 6. Game gets raised.
Sharks in 4. Avs suck.
Hawks in 5. Rinne wins one.
Nucks in 6. Finally something to offer the world other than Luongo.
Wings in 6. Peaking when it matters.

Okay, the wordy part. Canucks/Kings and Wings/Coyotes look like the most evenly matched series in the first round, and should be the most entertaining in that regard. The Coyotes have the better goaltending and managed to have the 3rd best record in the West despite Shane Doan not scoring a goal since January. That's my "go either way" series, but I think the team that's rolling and has been there before gets the edge.

Okay, latter rounds, won't bother with games.

Caps get enough semi-competent goaltending to beat Pens, Devils edge Sabres, both teams rely heavily on goaltending, Langenbruner and Kovalchuk end up making the difference. Caps continue to score, beat Devils.

Wings take out Sharks, Hawks take out Canucks. Hawks get past Wings this year.

Caps vs Hawks. I'll throw in an "if". IF Brian Campbell returns to play in this series, Hawks win. Otherwise Caps.

Jeremy said...

Once again, our first-round picks are pretty close. I'd give yours exactly as much chance as mine of being right, as NJ and Detroit are traditionally pretty good bets.

No hope for San Jose to go all the way, though, eh?

The Squirrel Hunter said...

Just cause they added Dany Heatly? They don't suck, but whatever they were lacking in the past - heart and will to do whatever it takes - Heatley doesn't add anything there.

Who knows, every team I picked to win their series lost last night. Like you said, fools game.

Jeremy said...

I'm not sure the Sharks have really lacked anything in previous playoff exits. Only one team wins every year, and it's pretty much even among the top 10 playoff teams each season -- the ones who make it to the finals get there with puck luck, good goaltending, freaky scoring streaks from players with no business doing so (Pisani!), and usually a lack of injuries to key players. Sometimes coaching seems to make a difference, but who knows?