Okay, I just lost all the stuff I typed in study hall, so now I have to retype it all again, so I might just keep this a bit short.
The 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs have begun, and it is time for me to make my picks. I waited until today because I could better see how teams are performing as I haven't seen that much hockey as of late. So at last, here are my Stanley Cup Playoff Predictions.
EASTERN CONFERENCE QUARTERFINALS
(1) Washington Capitals (54-15-13) vs. (8) Montreal Canadiens (39-33-10). The Habs squeaked by the Caps last night in a 3-2 win in OT. Halak stopped 45 of 47 shots and watched as his team struggled to get the puck past Jose Theodore. Some might have doubts about this series now, but the Capitals outshot the Canadiens 19-7 in the first period. Even more interesting is that Alex Ovechkin didn't record a shot on goal!
Once Ovie heats up, I just do not think that Halak has the experience or the ability to carry Montreal on his back, which is why my prediction for this series outcome is unchanged. Capitals in Six.
(2) New Jersey Devils (48-27-7) vs. (7) Philadelphia Flyers (41-35-6). New Jersey couldn't beat Philly goalie Brian Boucher and they lost to the Flyers 2-1. I think Philly is an underrated team and Boucher is even more underrated. I think this will be one of the best series we will see in the playoff and I think the Flyers will knock off the Devils. Flyers in Seven.
(3) Buffalo Sabres (45-27-10) vs. (6) Boston Bruins (39-30-13). Buffalo beat Boston 2-1 last night and Ryan Miller was back in his Olympic form. Boston's new goalie Tuukka Rask has been a pleasant surprise, but his lack of experience will be the reason the B's won't make it past the Sabres, who are a team to look out for because some nights they look like the best team in hockey. Sabres in Six.
(4) Pittsburgh Penguins (47-28-7) vs. (5) Ottawa Senators (44-32-6). Ottawa managed to beat the Pens 5-4 in a high-octane offensive struggle. Ottawa has a lot of big names such as Alfredsson and Kovalev, but the defending champs were playing some good hockey in the homestretch and I think that Sid the Kid will pull through for Pittsburgh. Penguins in Seven.
WESTERN CONFERENCE QUARTERFINALS
(1) San Jose Sharks (51-20-11) vs. (8) Colorado Avalanche (43-30-9). The Avs pulled off an upset Wednesday as they took down the Sharks. It seems to me every year San Jose has an elite team they crap the bed in the playoffs. I think it's because Barry Melrose always picks them to win. He didn't this year, but they'll still lose. Don't get excited, Colorado, I think the Sharks can pull this series out with their experience and pure talent. Sharks in Seven.
(2) Chicago Blackhawks (52-28-8) vs. (7) Nashville Predators (47-29-6). Actually, these two teams have not played yet, but I think I know who is going to win. Nashville...Not! (Oh, Borat.) The Blackhawks remind me of those Esposito days. This is a nice pack of young talent and, in my opinion, are the Capitals' Western counterpart. Chicago will have their way with the boys from Tennessee. Blackhawks in Five.
(3) Vancouver Canucks (49-28-5) vs. (6) Los Angeles Kings (46-27-9). The 'Nucks topped the Kings last night by a score of 3-2 in OT. Vancouver, led by goalie Roberto Luongo, will be eyeing that cup that eluded them for so long. The Kings have been a big surprise, as have the Avs, grabbing the six seed and their first playoff appearance since 2001-02. However, the Kings' inexperience will do them in as the team from BC will move on. Canucks in Six.
(4) Phoenix Coyotes (50-25-7) vs. (5) Detroit Red Wings (44-24-14). The Red Wings are one of the hottest teams in hockey, but their loss on Wednesday really put some worry into Hockeytown. They don't need to worry. They should pull through with the more experience and talent. Wings in Seven.
EASTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS
(1) Washington vs. (7) Philadelphia. The Capitals flat out owned Philly in the regular season, outscoring them 22-13 in four games. However, I still think the Flyers will give the Great 8 a run for his money, as Philly has a very aggressive and big defense. But eventually Caps coach Bruce Boudreau will find a way around them and advance to the conference finals. Capitals in Six.
(3) Buffalo vs. (4) Pittsburgh. The defending champs are a good matchup with Buffalo. A well-balanced team can overpower Buffalo by controlling the tempo of the game and preventing them from getting too many chances on Marc-Andre Fleury. I think the Pens will find a way to get past Buffalo. Penguins in Seven.
WESTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS
(1) San Jose vs. (5) Detroit. The curse of San Jose will live on, as I think Detroit will be too much for the Sharks who will, once again, have to wait until next year. Detroit is on a roll right now and they should roll through Joe Thornton and the Sharks in this seires. Wings in Six.
(2) Chicago vs. (3) Vancouver. Chicago is, in my mind, just far better than Vancouver. Luongo will not be able to save his team this time, and Patrick Kane and Jon Toews will get back to the cup finals. Blackhawks in Six.
EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS
(1) Washington vs. (4) Pittsburgh. It's a rematch of last years dramatic 2nd Round series as the Great 8 will face off against Sid the Kid.
The Caps swept the season series against Pittsburgh, but that heartbreaking 6-2 game 7 loss has to be in the back of the Capitals' minds. But this year the Caps are a year wiser, a year smarter, and a year better. This is the best team I've seen since the Red Wings team a couple years back. I think this is the year the Caps will have a shot at the cup for the first time since the 1997-98 season, and I see Ovechkin finally besting Crosby. Capitals in Seven.
WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS
(2) Chicago vs. (5) Detroit. It's a rematch of last year's conference final, when the Wings flew past the Hawks to get to the cup final. However, this year Detroit team is not as strong as it once was and Chicago is getting better every year. The Blackhawks are, in my mind, a better team in every aspect. Expect the Hawks to get to their first cup appearance since 1992. Blackhawks in Six.
STANLEY CUP FINALS
(1) Washington vs. (2) Chicago. This is the matchup many analysts are looking for: Two teams with young talent battling for Lord Stanley's Cup. On the Washington side, the offense is by far the best hockey has to offer. Their defense, however, is nothing special, but with good goaltending they can get the job done.
On Chicago's side, their offense is not as powerful, but they have a better defense and a reliable goalie in Cristobal Huet. This will be a fantastic matchup that would really help the NHL get back on par with the NFL, MLB, and NBA in terms of popularity. In the end, I think that the Washington Capitals will hoist their first cup in their history.
Capitals in Seven.
There you have it! May this be the best playoffs the league has ever seen.
P.S. I apologize for my Washington bias, but everyone in the hockey community can't call my pick nonsense at all. This is the best chance the Caps have ever had to hoist the cup.
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