Yet again, I'm going up against a fictional character(s) in playoff predictions.
Yet again, I'm losing.
Somehow, the folks from M*A*S*H picked five first-round series correctly.
I only picked four.
Maybe you can call it beginner's luck. Maybe they're that darn good.
Hawkeye: I have a question: If we win, do we get out of this horrid place?
BT: No. I don't have that kind of power.
Hawkeye: Can you at least make the food better?
BT: I'll see what I can do.
Hawkeye: That's all I ask.
No. 4 Pittsburgh Penguins vs. No. 8 Montreal Canadiens
Every year there’s a team like the Montreal Canadiens in the playoffs. They’ve got the scoring, but there is always a question mark (in this case, their size). They’ve got a solid defense, but they’re forced to contend against a powerhouse because of their low seeding.
Then they’ve got that stellar goaltender who can steal a series, but also needs a hand from his counterpart from time-to-time (the mid-series break from Carey Price probably helped).
The Habs dismantled an offensive juggernaut in shocking fashion. They didn’t exactly limit Washington’s offense (134 shots over the last three games), but Jaroslav Halak stole the series, limiting Washington to three goals over their final three games.
So I guess you could say Halak dismantled the Caps.
Either way, it's amazing.
Now they have to do it to an even better team in the Pittsburgh Penguins.
For Sidney Crosby and company, there are no goaltending questions. Marc-Andre Fleury is the man, and he’s solid. Fifty playoff starts over the past three years, and 34 second-season wins.
They’ll also have their hands full once again with a dynamic offensive squad. Replace Alexander Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, and you’ve got a second-straight challenge.
The Penguins also have a supporting cast who, they’d like to think, won’t disappear a la the rest of the Washington Capitals.
So who do you go with? The underdog that people will get behind as they continue to play the top-seeds and favorites? Or the favorite that has a whole lot of support, if only because people always want a dynasty.
Tell you what. I’ve got Habs. I’m not missing the underdog train—unless I want the Penguins to win, in which case I reverse-jinxed them.
I’m making M*A*S*H pick the favorites.
Hawkeye: What do you mean, making? Who do you think you are? Frank?
B.J: Well…I don’t even think Frank makes you do anything.
Hawkeye: He makes me think twice about being around him.
Frank: Hey! I resent that!
Hawkeye: No Frank. You represent that. There’s a difference.
BT says: Canadiens in six.
M*A*S*H predicts: Crosby and Co. in five.
No. 1 San Jose Sharks vs. No. 5 Detroit Red Wings
So the San Jose Sharks overcame what could’ve been a series-defining, Dan-Boyle-scoring-on-himself-with-an-assist-to-Ryan-O’Reilly-to-create-an-upset-goal to beat the Colorado Avalanche. Meanwhile, the Detroit Red Wings had trouble putting the Phoenix Coyotes away until Game Seven.
And I thought the Twilight craze was weird.
Radar: Hey! I like Twilight!
BT: Radar. You of ALL PEOPLE like Twilight?
Radar: Yea…so what?
BT: So what? It’s weird…
Radar: No it’s not.
Hawkeye: You know…he’s right Radar. The fact that a guy who’s still afraid of the dark becomes a fan of Vampire movies is kind of strange. And now that they’ve got your trust, that’s how they get you.
Radar: You mean, the vampires?
Radar: Well…I’m done with that.
BT: Anyways. Needless to say, none of this has made sense. And neither will this pick.
As well as Jimmy Howard has played this year, I give the advantage to the Sharks and Evgeni Nabokov in net.
While Nabokov has barely played more in the playoffs than Howard (first of all, that’s hard to do when you rarely make it out of the first round. Second of all, I know this is a stretch/inaccurate. It’s a joke. Get a life.), but experience is experience.
Nabokov will have to prove, however, that he’s ready for a much heavier workload. There were two instances in the first round where he faced 20 shots, and three instances where he made fewer than 20 saves. That will not happen against Detroit.
Ilya Bryzgalov faced over 35 shots four times in the first round, including 50 in Game Seven. Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg alone have combined for 19 points in seven games, while nine players on the Detroit roster have at least five points.
While San Jose has their own firepower, they’re going to have to prove that it can stand toe-to-toe with Detroit’s experience. Oh, and there’s 37 cup rings on Detroit compared to four on San Jose.
Side note: The fact that Detroit has nearly as many cup rings on its active roster (not including coaches) as the Toronto Maple Leafs have years without a cup is depressing. The fact that they have more if we include coaches/employees? I’m now going to cover myself in frosting and hop over to ‘Cupcake Enjoyers of America’.
The one bright spot (and yes, this is a bright spot) for the Sharks, is that their key players haven’t yet stepped up.
This team won games against Colorado by scoring six and five goals (twice), and got one out of Patrick Marleau/Dany Heatley/Joe Thornton? They may just have a chance.
Actually, why not? I’ll take them. I haven’t had a poor decision/sentence damage my credibility in a few weeks.
BT says: Sharks in seven.
M*A*S*H predicts: Wings in six.
No. 6 Boston Bruins vs. No. 7 Philadelphia Flyers
A six versus seven matchup in the playoffs. Really?
I’d be less surprised if an invitation to the Playboy Mansion turned up in my mailbox.
Is it wrong to say that I’d be equally as happy though? Probably.
Simply put, the unlikelihood of this matchup is what makes it so exciting.
Suddenly Brian Boucher is out-dueling Martin Brodeur and the offensively-challenged, but the defensively-potent Boston Bruins are leaving the Buffalo Sabres and their fans stunned.
The Flyers stymied the Devils, outscoring them 12-4 in the four games they won. The Bruins simply played their game, locking down the Sabres, and capitalizing on their opportunities when they got them.
So now we’ve got a few questions:
Is this Boucher’s revival, or is this going to mark Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask’s true coming out party?
Will the offensive balance of the Bruins continue (six players with at least two goals), and what kind of an effect will Marc Savard’s return have on that?
Can the Philadelphia Flyers survive without Jeff Carter, Simon Gagne, and Ian Laperriere? Or will the injury bug slow them enough to let Boston capitalize?
Starting at the top, I think it can be both. Rask has proven himself throughout this season, and if the Flyers do start to pepper him, he can take it (he was 6-1-2 in games where he faced 35 or more shots this season).
For Boucher, he just seems to be a playoff goalie (did you know he’s a career 15-9 in the playoffs now with a 1.97 goals-against, and a .921 save percentage?).
As far as Savard goes, he can only help the offensive distribution, and with a spread-out scoring attack, and a motivated Milan Lucic, Boston’s offense could catch Philly off guard.
Injury-wise, if anyone can overcome this, I honestly think it’s the Flyers. Daniel Carcillo can score goals in bunches when he keeps his hands on his stick (mind out of the gutter, please), while Danny Briere has ratcheted up the production during the playoffs in the past.
The nice thing about this series, is that there’s no “upset.” Hardly anyone expected either team to get here, let alone both. In other words: Sit back and enjoy the ride.
P.A. System: Attention! Attention! Expectations are at an all time low! You can pick yours up in the nurse's tent directly across from the mess hall, or through the hole drilled in the side of the ladies shower. That is all.
BT says: Bruins in six.
M*A*S*H says: Flyers in seven.
No. 2. Chicago Blackhawks vs. No. 3 Vancouver Canucks
BJ: Father, what do you know about redemption?
Father Mulcahy: Well, son. I know that redemption is offered to those that are truly worthy and cherish the opportunity. It’s not a word, or an idea, to be tossed around lightly. And if you’re offered the opportunity at redemption you shouldn’t waste it.
BJ: So, you’re saying that Roberto Luongo is coming out on top this time?
Father Mulcahy: BJ, you know as well as I do that no one knows that for sure. I do know that he should be packing sun block though.
BJ: Why’s that?
Father Mulcahy: Well if he gets shelled for seven by the ‘Hawks again, his self-confidence may take a trip south!
Don’t blame me for that. They write their own material (mostly). I just plagiarize.
But the good Father is right: Roberto Luongo has to be looking forward at getting a shot at redemption against a team that chased him from the United Centre last year in this very round.
The Canucks have battled a tough road to get here as well. At least once every game (and nine times overall) a game between the Los Angeles Kings and the Vancouver Canucks was tied. Even game five, which Vancouver won outright 7-2, was tied 1-1 during the first.
That kind of fortitude can’t go missing if the Canucks are going to fair just as well against the Blackhawks.
As for Chicago, I never thought I’d see a team benefit from taking a five-minute major in the playoffs. If Marian Hossa doesn’t run Dan Hamhuis through the boards in Game Five, Patrick Kane doesn’t score shorthanded.
Hossa also doesn’t come out of the box to win it for Chi-town in overtime.
The Predators win Game Five, and (potentially) we’re looking at a completely different matchup.
The Canucks have gotten exactly what they needed out of Mikael Samuelsson, and that was scoring. Combining him and the Sedins together, along with Steve Bernier, Pavol Demitra, and the dormant trio of Ryan Kesler, Alex Burrows, and Mason Raymond, could have the Canucks rolling.
It’ll be how Vancouver handles the offensive prowess of Chicago though that matters.
At times, it seems that if the Kings could have only been able to generate opportunities consistently in the Vancouver end, they could’ve been more of a threat.
If Chicago can do that, they’ll have the Canucks playing their game—a game Vancouver may not be able to keep up in.
BT says: Chicago in six.
M*A*S*H predicts: Chicago in five.
Bryan goes up against M*A*S*H each and every round of this year's NHL playoffs. If you want to get in contact with BT, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, you can follow him on twitter at bryanthiel_88 , or over at Hockey 54—The Face of the Game!