As has been pointed out by many, it’s that time of year where anyone who writes about hockey on any level is forced to announce their playoff predictions. There are many formats, many ways to predict, and many factors that go into it.
This year’s playoffs features quite a few blockbuster matches and is certainly not short on storylines. So, let’s get down to prognosticating, shall we? With the schedule the way it is, and me being a day late and dollar short with this (which, has been kind of the theme around here this season), we’ll hit the Western Conference today, with the Eastern Conference tomorrow.
1: Vancouver Canucks – 8: Los Angeles Kings
Vancouver: Have two players that look and perform exactly the same.
Los Angeles: Have twelve players that look and perform exactly the same. Which is to say not at all.
Vancouver: Have nearly $15M invested in their defensemen.
Los Angeles: Have nearly $15M invested in their defenseman.
Vancouver: Have two stellar goalies, one of which gets virtually no fan support whatsoever, yet manages to help the team set the bar in the NHL every season.
Los Angeles: Has a stellar goalie who gets virtually no goal support whatsoever, and as a result heads to the bar every night.
Prediction: Vancouver loses the second game of the series at home 3-1, thanks to an empty net goal. Canucks fans erupt into an uncontrollable protest that unseats Roberto Luongo for the rest of the series. The Kings take advantage and win the series 4-2.
2: St. Louis Blues – 7: San Jose Sharks
St. Louis: Imposed an “offense by committee” system that produced the second fewest goals of all the division champs. Though, to be fair, those numbers might be skewed by the team’s low shooter morale after every team scrimmage throughout the season ended in a 0-0 tie.
San Jose: Are hoping they may have bucked a trend by sucking throughout the regular season instead of waiting for that until April like most years.
St. Louis: Have completely bought into Ken Hitchcock’s system that involves everyone on the ice focusing on breaking up plays, and good, solid defense.
San Jose: Seem to have recently switched to a system that involves everyone in the entire arena focusing on breaking up plays, and good, solid defense.
St. Louis: Have a goaltending tandem that pretty much dominated the league in every statistical category.
San Jose: Have a goaltending tandem that pretty much dominated the league in how many vowels are in their last names.
Advantage: St. Louis.
Prediction: The Sharks get clutch, timely play from veterans Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau en route to a… hahaha, just kidding. Blues in 5.
3: Phoenix Coyotes – 6: Chicago Blackhawks
Phoenix: Cornerstones Shane Doan and Ray Whitney have nearly 1800 points combined in the NHL. Which is really impressive when you consider they’ve played most of their careers for teams that Canada would lead you to believe don’t exist.
Chicago: Marian Hossa, Patrick Kane, and Patrick Sharp have all stepped up and really produced during the absence of Jonathan Toews. Although, it’s probably a lot easier to score with a hockey stick and not the pitchforks and rifles they hold on to when he is around.
Phoenix: Have confidence being aggressive in the neutral zone, knowing that even if they do make a mistake, they have one of the most solid goalies in league this season is in the net behind them.
Chicago: Have confidence being aggressive in the neutral zone, knowing that even if they do make a mistake, they can just stay where they are and rest for the next faceoff, giving them energy to try harder the next time.
Phoenix: See above.
Chicago: See above.
Prediction: The Coyotes at last perfect their “Let’s get it for Shane” speech, and finally make it all the way. To the second round. Coyotes in 6.
4: Nashville Predators – 5: Detroit Red Wings
Nashville: Often rely on the booming shots and intimidation of their top three defensemen – Ryan Suter, Shea Weber, and Shea Weber’s beard to create offense.
Detroit: May have trouble breaking out of their zone after diving out of the way of the booming shots and intimidation of Nashville’s top three defensemen – Ryan Suter, Shea Weber, and Shea Weber’s beard.
Nashville: The defensive prowess of Hal Gill and Kevin Klein compliment the offensive prowess of Shea Weber and Ryan Suter nicely, rounding out a solid top four.
Detroit: Have Nick Lidstrom.
Nashville: Pekka Rinner doesn’t have to face the booming shots and intimidation of their top three defensemen – Ryan Suter, Shea Weber, and Shea Weber’s beard.
Detroit: Jimmy Howard does.
Prediction: Hal Gill whose quickness has long departed, unknowingly gets in the way of Pavel Datsyuk each and every time he zooms across the crease, knocking him out of the series early. Predators in 5.