Well that sure was a strange first round, wasn’t it? Between the approximately 312 goals scored by Philadelphia and the 9 scored by St. Louis, Nashville, LA, and Phoenix combined, we saw it all. The first week had an insane amount of violence, but then things calmed down. We saw more overtime games that you could possibly imagine and the two favourites for the Stanley Cup are golfing while the Phoenix Coyotes are playing the latest games in the history of their franchise.
After the first round, Glen, Troy and the Coin all had some struggles., with the standings coming out as follows:
In third place we had the coin who correctly predicted series wins for the Washington Capitals, New Jersey Devils, St. Louis Blues, and the Nashville Predators, we have the coin!
In 2nd place, correctly guessing…err prognosticating the Rangers, Devils, Blues, and Predators all winning, with an extra point coming for going with the Rangers 7 game victory bringing his point total to 5 is the proprietor of this blog, Glen!
And in first place with a 5-3 record based on correct predictions for the Rangers, Devils, Blues, Coyotes, and Predators, plus correctly predicting the series length for the St. Louis Blues is Troy! Like the Western Conference we seem to be having a changing of the guard here.
For the next round we’ve got the following Predictions…
#2 St. Louis Blues vs. #8 Los Angeles Kings
Remember after Michael Leighton made it to the finals and everyone kept saying that you don’t need goaltending to win? Well look at the roughly 712 shutouts that these two teams combined for this year and start to think again. As the Vancouver Canucks can attest to, the Kings are not a typical eighth seed, but the Blues looked damn scary in their last trip to California. After seeing records set in Philly-Pittsburgh last round for offense, expect records to be set for defense here.
Troy Says: In the West goaltending was king in the first round. All four Western Conference teams have amazing goaltending so with that in mind it’s most likely going to come down to good offence, or inversely, poor defence. St. Louis is a young team with exceptional talent. Everything is coming together for them at the right time. However, keep in mind that the team they beat in the first round was San Jose….the chokingest team…..ever?! If you look at what the Kings did in the first round it’s quite impressive. Los Angeles knocked out the defending Western Conference Champs and President’s trophy winners in 5 games. And you can’t even blame it on Luongo! This leads me to believe that at the end of the day, LA is the better team. LA has been on this precipice for a number of years now. Everyone was wondering when they were going to get over the hump and start making some noise and with the addition of a guy like Richards I believe this is their time.
Most Interesting Story: Could it be anything other than goaltending and defense? These were the two best defensive teams in the league during the regular season with the Blues allowing 165 goals and the Kings allowing 179.
Most Interesting Statistic: Despite these two teams sharing a Conference for most of their existence, they have only met in the playoffs twice before. The Blues swept the Kings in the 1969 Western Division final to earn their second straight trip to the finals, and again in 1998 to advance to the second round.
Glen’s Prediction: St. Louis Blues in 6 games with around 15 total goals scored.
Troy’s Prediction: I’ll take LA in 6.
Coin’s Prediction: LA in 7
#3 Phoenix Coyotes vs. Nashville Predators
Remember after Michael Leighton made it to the finals and everyone kept saying that you don’t need goaltending to win? Oh wait, we’ve already made that point? Well it’s further underscored here as we have two of the most impressive goalies in the first round. These two teams match up very well, they both have stellar defense, intelligent coaches, gargantuan goaltenders, and were both almost forced to move to Hamilton. Expect this series to be insanely close.
Troy Says: This series seems somewhat identical to St. Louis vs LA. They are both young teams with exception goalies and this as well will be a very tight series. I find this one a tough one to call. In my eye the Preds had the more impressive first round knocking out the Wings in 5 games whereas it took Phoenix 6 games to take out the Hawks. Nashville is lead with one of the toughest blue lines in the league and their ageless coach has this team firing on all cylinders. The Coyotes are in brand new territory and as such this is the first time this franchise has made it past the first round since the move from Winnipeg. From that I can figure that Nashville has the edge in experience and with two youngish teams that can make a large difference. This will be a close series but I’m going with Nashville.
Most Interesting Story: Offense. When Radim Vrbata is the closest this series have to a game-breaking forward, then it’s curious to all it an interesting matchup. Yet somehow, someway this year, the Predators are Top 10 in the NHL in Goals For and Number One in the Power Play. With everything else so close between these two teams, expect the ability to put pucks in a net, even if it is by committee, to be the deciding factor.
Most Interesting Statistic: The only time either of these teams won more than four games in a single playoff was last year when the Predators won six.
Glen’s Prediction: Nashville in 7 games with both teams combining for three shutouts.
Troy’s Prediction: Preds in 7
Coin Says: Predators in 4
#1 New York Rangers vs. #7 Washington Capitals
These two teams survived Game 7 scares to make it to this point. This is their third playoff showdown in the last four years, with the Capitals taking the previous two as the favourite, the roles are reversed this time around. Will the results also be?
Well….I picked Washington to fall flat on their faces against Boston and I was dead wrong. I sincerely didn’t think they had a shot at all. But notice who was, or better yet, who wasn’t, leading this team. It wasn’t Ovechkin; it was Matt Hendricks. This guy was everything for Washington in the first round. I find it interesting that Ovie has taken a bit of a back seat with this team and it hasn’t hurt them in the least. On the New York side, they shows some balls in coming back against Ottawa to win in 7 but as a number one seed against the number 8 seed they should have never been in that position to begin with. This team has made some major strides this year but nonetheless I think they can be beaten. I’m ready to put some faith in the Caps in this round. They severely impressed me with their play against the defending champs and they deserve some credit for that.
Most Interesting Story: Coaching. Both teams have high end offensive players but are choosing to play a defense-first style. Tortorella has made the Rangers are kings of blocking shots, and Dale Hunter has somehow convinced Ovechkin and Semin that a 1-4 system is better than no system at all. Perhaps the winner of this series will come down to who lets their horses out of the barn at the right moment.
Most Interesting Statistic: Alexander Ovechkin has seen as many NHL Game 7s as Madison Square Garden.
Glen’s Prediction: Rangers get revenge by winning in 5
Troy’s Prediction: Capitals in 5
Coin’s Prediction: Capitals in 5
#5 Philadelphia Flyers vs. #6 New Jersey Devils
The Patrick Division lives!!!! These two teams have long been geographic rivals, and will renew their hostilities once more. This series should be a very good once as it is the only one of the four series to feature two teams with over 100 points, and both of them were lower seeds last round. The Flyers used great forechecking and the stretch pass last round, but will it work against the team that quite literally wrote the book on positional defense?
Troy’s Prediction: New Jersey has run into a powerhouse in this round and I can’t wait to see the slaughter. Brodeur, as much as I love him, is not the goalie he used to be. Combine that with the fact that Philly averaged approximately 30 goals per game against Pittsburgh in the first round and this series may not be pretty for Marty’s GAA. New Jersey is going to try and trap like they always do and Philly is going to blow right through it.
Most Interesting Story: Goaltending! Last round Ilya Bryzgalov was bad, but was able to escape criticisms based on the fact that Marc-Andre Fleury was worse. Martin Brodeur was very inconsistent last round, and you have to wonder how much gas he has left in the tank. Both goalies should be on short leashes in this round. The Flyers were not afraid to run and gun last round, but you have to wonder if it will work so well this time.
Most Interesting Statistic: These two teams have met four times before in the playoffs, the winning team has gone on to win the Stanley Cup twice and lose in the finals one other time.
Bonus statistic: Despite advancing to the second round for the first time in his career, teams with Ilya Kovalchuk have a record of 5-11 in postseason games.
Glen’s Prediction: Flyers in 6
Troy’s Prediction: Flyers in 4
Coin’s Prediction: New Jersey in 7
Quick Picks for the Third and Fourth Rounds:
Predators over Blues in 6
Rangers over Flyers in 5
Predators over Rangers in 6 to win the Cup and send Canadians rioting. Rinne for Conn Smythe.
LA over Nashville in 7
Philly over the Caps in 6.
Philly over LA in 5. Giroux with the Conn Smythe.
Nashville over LA in 6
New Jersey over Washington in 7
New Jersey over Nashville in 7
That would be poetic after all of the relocation rumours from ’95, wouldn’t it be?