1 Vancouver Canucks vs 8 Los Angeles Kings: I’ve watched a lot of hockey this year including the West and yes Vancouver has equalled last season with another Presidents Trophy as best regular season team in the NHL. The Kings have had their ups and downs. New manager, and the fact that they have a hard time scoring goals. Their one constant was goaltender Jonathan Quick and he will have to be even better to hold off the Canucks and especially their power play! I would love to see an upset here but I don’t see it happening. Vancouver in 5 games.
2 St. Louis Blues vs 7 San Joe Sharks: Since Ken Hitchcock took over the Blues, they have been nothing short of sensational. Underachieving at the beginning of the season, they were in the top spot in the league for a while. Jaro Halak & Brian Elliott share the number one spot in goal in which the lead the league in goals allowed with a measley 165. I’m no longer a Sharks fan because no matter what, they don’t seem to have a killer instinct to go to the next level. Love Joe Thornton and hope someday he gets his name on The Cup, unfortunately, I dont think its this year. St. Louis sweep!
3 Phoenix Coyotes vs 6 Chicago Blackhawks: Good for the Coyotes. Solidified thier position on the final day of the year. Once they knew they were not going to give Ilya Bryzgalov teh gazillion dollars he wanted, they aimed for free agent Mike Smith from Tampa Bay and he has been beyond what they could have dreamed of. Ray Whitney is playing like he is 29, not 39. And the supporting cast has made Glendale, AZ popular in the NHL. Who knew? The Blackhawks are just not what they were two years ago when they brought Chicago their first Cup since 1961. Despite the talents of Messers Sharpe, Kane, & Toews, I have no confidence in goaltenders Corey Crawford & Ray Emery. The Dogs have their day. Coyotes in 5.
4 Nashville Predators vs 5 Detroit Red Wings: Intriguing in that Nashville has played the Wings tough all season long and have beaten them at the “Joe”. Never count the Red Wings out of any game. I have respect for the team and the organization. However, I have major disdain for their fans. They have become like Canadian fans in that they think they deserve to win all the time. Anything less and they’ve been robbed by officials, bad ice, 7-legged octopi, or whatever and for that reason, I hope they get chopped by the Predators! Nashville in 7.
1 New York Rangers vs 8 Ottawa Senators: No one thought that Paul Maclean would be able to coach to a playoff spot. Surprise! They actually were the number three seed late in the year pushing the Bruins down to number seven, albeit for one day. Ottawa has been a perennial also ran since their Cup Final run back in 2007. Not big on Craig Anderson in goal. Likewise for the New York Rangers who have been eliminated in the first round last season and did not qualify the year before. They are backed in goal by Henrik Lundqvist who should win the Vezina this year but still has not been able to put the Rangers over the hump. Tough series! Rangers in 6.
3 Florida Panthers vs 6 New Jersey Devils: The Panthers coach last year when they failed to make the playoffs is now the Devils coach. Rookie coach Kevin Dineen has his Panthers in the playoffs for the first time in a decade, but alas I don’t think they will be going very far. Pete DeBoer has the Devils playing like the Devils of old. And speaking of old, Martin Brodeur could be up to his old playoff tricks again which should get him and New Jersey through to the second round! New Jersey in 4.
4 Pittsburgh Penguins vs 5 Philadelphia Flyers: Wow! What’s good about this series is that it doesn’t conflict with the Bruins-Caps series and should be a delight to watch. Talk about Old Tyme Hockey and hatred, nothing could be closer to that than this series purports to be. Which team will outlast the other as they beat each other to a pulp. Philly goalie Ilya Bryzgalov had better be “Gigantic” like never before because the fire power of Evgeny Malkin, James Neal and the all around wizardry of Sidney Crosby could put his wierd world come crashing down on him. Flyers need the continued offensive power of Claude Giroux, Daniel Brierre & Scott Hartnell to counter the Pens. Marc-Andrey Fleury, solid and seasoned should be able to handle Philadelphia, although it wont be easy! Pittsburgh in 7.
last but certainly not least,
2 Boston Bruins vs 7 Washington Capitals: Coaching, Dale Hunter vs Claude Julien and I go with experience here. It took me a while to come around to Claude’s way of thinking. But he will keep rolling all four lines over the boards regardless what the Caps do and until proven otherwise, it will do the Bruins just fine! Everything else is intangible including the young starting goaltender for Washington. But I just can’t see the Caps beating the Bruins in a seven game series. Bruins in 6!
Its’ the National Hockey League Stanley Cup Playoffs and there just isn’t a better time of the year! Go Bruins!