The Sharks won the Presidents' Trophy as the team that finished the regular season with the most points. The Sharks have been a very good team in the recent past. What has that earned them in the playoffs? That’s right, nuthin’. This season though I have a different vibe with the bunch of Sharks. Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Devin Setoguchi one of the top lines in the league need to prove that against the Ducks and I expect they will. The Ducks recently saw the return of Francois Beauchemin, who played a huge role in the Ducks run to the Cup a couple of years back. However the main core of the Defense is aging and the Sharks get the edge in goaltending, Evgeni Nabokov should win the Vezina in my opinion. I can’t see the Sharks losing in the opening round.
Hockeytown, bah, I ain’t buyin’ it. When I look at the Red Wings I sometimes wonder if it would be more apropos for them to move to Stockholm, it does seem that most of the Swedish National Squad plays for them. Anyways, if there is one other club I wish well in the NHL besides my beloved Pittsburgh Penguins it is the Columbus Blue Jackets. A few years back when there was rumblings that the Flightless Ones may move I had already picked out the Jackets as my new #1 should the unthinkable occur. The unthinkable ended up being just that, unthinkable, but I still hold a soft spot for the Jackets. Given all that I want the Jackets to win in 4 with the Red Wings leaving the ice as a disheveled crying mess asking themselves what the eff just happened but alas logic dictates Wings in 5, nuts.
The Blues have been bad for a long time. Being bad though does allow a team to reap the reward of being able to get an in rush of young talent vis-à-vis the NHL draft. That is just what the Blues have been doing. That young bunch seems to have come together at the right time. The Blues were one of the hottest teams during the run in of the regular season. As far as the Canucks go, great season, nice division title, see ya in the fall, Blues in 6.
The Blackhawks are kind of like the Blues packed to the gills with good young talent. Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews are superstars in the making. The Flames look leaky. Even though goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff had a boat load of wins this season their defense looked very suspect with the number of goals conceded. Nastiness though could be the equalizer in this series. The Flames can bring the nasty. I expect the Flames to step up and deliver thunderous checks and hits and send the Hawks packing.
The Bruins are a TEAM. They play for each other and have some excellent young talent. The Habs for a good part of the season were a mess. If there is one weak spot I can pinpoint for the B’s it would be goaltending, I am not completely sold on Tim Thomas. He could though prove me wrong after all Dominik Hasek proved time and again that an unorthodox goalie can come up big during the big time of the season. I suspect the Bruins will win so there ya go.
This could be one of the most entertaining series in the playoffs. The Caps have the top gun and Richard Trophy winner in Alexander Ovechkin while the Rangers have arguably the top goaltender in the game today in Henrik Lundqvist. What’s that about immovable object and irresistible force? Ah, I cannot remember but that match up could prove to be the turning point in this series. Who wins? I don’t have a clue, but it should be fun.
The Devils limped home in the regular season. The Hurricanes looked almost as good as their recent Cup winning side. Martin Brodeur needs to regain his form to see the Devils through. Me, I am figuring Canes in 4. Eric Staal is a stud.
The old enemy returns. I have a list of teams that I truly dislike, it is short but the Flyers make that list quite easily. The Flyers choked away home ice for this series with a regular season finale loss to the Rangers, much to my delight. I expect the Flyers to come in with their same old tired tactics of thuggery and intimidation which usually plays into the Penguins hands by pissing off Sidney Crosby. Sir Sid plays really well when he is pissed and the Flyers really piss him off. The one thing the Flyers have that could turn the series in their favor is terrific special team play. Shutting down the Flyers power play and the Penguins taking advantage of the man advantage may be a huge key. Anyways, in my mind things will not be right in the universe unless the Flyers are seen off with superior skill and aplomb.
Last evening I watched the lottery and the New York Islanders won the right to select first in this summer’s Entry Draft. The top pick has more than likely boiled down to either Canadian forward John Tavares or Swedish defenseman Victor Hedman. After seeing a great deal of both of them in the World Juniors I would pick Tavares in an instant. Tavares’ play may have leveled off in the Memorial Cup playoffs of late but the kid has the tools to fill the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.