April 15, 2012; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Flyers center Brayden Schenn (10) and Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby (87) are separated by referee Kevin Pollock (33) during the third period in game three of the 2012 Eastern Conference quarterfinals at Wells Fargo Arena. The Flyers defeated the Penguins, 8-4. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-US PRESSWIRE

Playoff Picks and Predictions

Now that our beloved Habs are out of the playoff picture and the second season has begun, I’ve found myself watching a lot of other hockey games. I would do this during the season as well, but playoff hockey is the best hockey in the world. This season, so far, we’ve seen a lot of chippy play and terrible hits though. And Shanahan to date, at least, has been fairly inconsistent. Why? Carl Hagelin on Daniel Alfredsson is 3 games, but Shea Weber on Henrik Zetterberg is 0? Gotta wonder if the preferential treatment for star players is actually in effect.

Anyway, on to my predictions. Obviously most series are at game 2 or 3 at this point but here’s my picks for Round One! Leave your own in the comments!

1. Pittsburgh vs. Philedelphia: The Pens are down 3-0, are getting horrific goaltending, can’t hold a lead and are running around the ice. Philly has done a great job of forcing the Pens to play their game, getting slightly better goaltending (though that doesn’t  say much) and offense from their stars (where the Pens are not).

Philly sweeps the series at home on Wednesday.

2. Vancouver vs. Los Angeles: This one is trickier. I don’t feel like the Canucks have played badly, but they need their starpower here. Low-scoring games are the Kings bread and butter, but the Canucks are on the brink of elimination. I think they win 1 game, but go out in five. The heart doesn’t seem to be in it.

Los Angeles wins the series 4-1.

3. Nashville vs. Detroit: This is a great series, with very little bad blood compared to the Pens vs Philly series. I like Nashville’s depth at every position, and I also think Detroit is getting older and won’t be able to keep up in this one if it goes the distance. I forsee a long series for this one, but I think Nashville’s depth comes out on top.

Nashville wins series 4-2.

4. San Jose vs. St.Louis: Jaroslav Halak is injured, being replaced by a stellar Brian Elliott. The Blues tied the series at 1-1 on Saturday night with a shutout. The Sharks are a deep team built for the playoffs that are having difficulties this season. The Blues are an upstart team that stayed near the top of the league all season. For some reason, I have a hunch that the Sharks will pull off the improbable and finally make the next step. Will go the distance though in a physical series.

San Jose wins series 4-3. In overtime.

5. Ottawa vs. Rangers: This one has the beginnings of bad blood with the Dubinsky, Carkner, Hagelin and Boyle incidents. In a battle of goaltending and toughness, I like what Ottawa can bring to the table. I think Ottawa is highly underestimated but I think the Rangers are too deep and too well-coached to lose this one.

New York wins series 4-2.

6. Washington vs. Boston: I like this series, it’s a good matchup. Washington is too good to be the underdog here. I don’t like their coaching, and I don’t like Ovechkin‘s play but they can be dangerous. So far, Holtby is making a huge difference for the Caps in net. I’m calling this as the upset of the playoffs.

Washington wins series 4-3.

7. Phoenix vs. Chicago: I will be honest, I believe Chicago is perennially overrated because they won a Cup recently. They’re not the same team, don’t have the same depth and Crawford is not particularly very good. Phoenix is deep, hard-working and well-coached. I say Phoenix takes the next step and makes it interesting.

Phoenix wins series 4-2.

8. New Jersey vs. Florida: Again, this is a sentimental pick. I want Florida to advance. No one (myself included) gave Dale Tallon any credit for stringing together a bunch of free-agent castoffs and making them into a pretty solid team. I think New Jersey is slightly one dimensional and Brodeur is at the end of the line.

Florida wins 4-3.

Let the best team win!


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