Wednesday, April 13, 2011

2011 Playoffs Preview

The first round of the 2010-11 NHL Playoffs starts tonight (and it couldn't come sooner! Being deprived of hockey for a few days was not fun). I thought I'd preview each series in the 1st round, who I think will take the series and why. Here goes!

Eastern Conference:

Washington Capitals vs New York Rangers:
I'm going to have to pick the Caps in 5. Coach Bruce Boudreau has made adjustments in the way his team plays in order for them to achieve playoff success. If his team doesn't make it past the 1st round, he could be joining Clouston, Richards & Crawford in the fired coaches club...

Tampa Bay Lightning vs Pittsburgh Penguins:
Bolts in 6. Despite an excellent start to the season, the Pens haven't fared so well in the latter half, in large part due to losing their star forwards Sidney Crosby & Evgeni Malkin. It doesn't look like the 2 will be joining the line-up anytime soon, and Marc-André Fleury's lackluster season leads me to believe they'll be eliminated in the 1st round.

Montreal Canadiens vs Boston Bruins:
Habs in 6. Call it homerism if you must, but the Habs are 4-2 versus the Bruins this season. The Habs have overcome so much this season, it's a miracle they're in the playoffs at all (many counted them out after the loss of Markov & Gorges. Oddly enough, the blueline has been one of the Canadiens strengths this season, in large part due to the acquisition of James Wisniewski & Brent Sopel, not to mention to heroics of Roman Hamrlik & Hal Gill, and of course, the extraordinary break-out rookie season had by P.K. Subban). Along with a goalie having a career season (Carey Price), and a healthy dose of underdog syndrome, the Habs have the recipe for success.

Buffalo Sabres vs Philadelphia Flyers:
Sabres in 7. I think this will be one of the most exciting matchups in the east (after Habs/Bruins, of course). I would love the see the Sabres take out the Flyers. If that is the case, and the Habs knock off the Bruins, I think the Habs would breeze past the Sabres in the conference semis, making a 2nd straight conference final appearance.

Western Conference:

Chicago Blackhawks vs Vancouver Canucks:
The Canucks won the President's trophy this year, they have 2 of the leagues leading scorers in the Sedin twins, blah blah blah. As much as I love seeing Canadian teams in the playoffs, I think the defending Stanley Cup champs will knock them off in the first round. I think the Canucks will give them a run for their money, looking to avenge their loss to Chicago last year, but the Hawks will emerge victorious in this repeat matchup.

San Jose Sharks vs Los Angeles Kings:
I'm thinking Sharks in 4. I haven't seen too many experts or analysts or fans pick the Kings. I'm jumping on that bandwagon, and going with San Jose.

Detroit Red Wings vs Phoenix Coyotes:
Red Wings in 5. It's really beginning to look like the 'Yotes won't be in Phoenix for very much longer. I think this failed first round will be the final nail in their coffin. Move them to a better hockey market, already! Bettman, I know you hate Canada, but I thought you loved money? I promise, you'll make some if you move the team to Winnipeg or Québec City.

Anaheim Ducks vs Nashville Predators:
Preds in 7. Why not? Would be fun to see them make their 1st second round appearance in franchise history (don't get overly excited, their franchise has only existed for 12 years).

Well, there you have it folks. My first round preview. Now grab a beer, sit back, relax and enjoy the show!

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