Ladies and gentlemen, we are that much closer to finding out who wins the Stanley Cup, or to Brad Marchand the “starley cup.” Its the second round of the NHL playoffs which used to be the conference semi finals, but since the NHL went all college hoops we’re looking at Divisional finals. Still don’t like the ring of it, but I have the 100% factual picks of perfect accuracy for the winners.
I’m coming around on this new format to build “rivalries”, mainly because the more Habs-Bruins and Battles of California we have the better. Hoo boy. WOOOO!
By: Adam Pyde – @Adam_Pyde
You should go lock your bets in right after you’re done reading.
Atlantic Division Championship
#1 Boston Bruins vs #3 Montreal Canadiens
The Bruins are easily the best team in the entire Eastern conference. They’ve shown this for a few years now with one Cup win and another finals appearance. They play and impose a pretty Western Conference style of play on the Eastern Conference and it pays off. They should mop the floor with the Canadiens.
But, if there is one team who can beat the Bruins, it is Montreal. There is something about this match-up which causes Boston to usually drop its entire game plan and run around like a bunch of thugs. They play over aggressive and try to fight every Hab player after every hit, and usually find themselves in penalty trouble.
Why does this happen? I have no idea. There is no rational reason. But its one of those things in sports. This is the oldest and most storied rivalry in hockey. It has stood the test of time while others have died. And that gets into the heads of both teams. They both play so differently against each other. Can they hold composure in the playoffs?
I give the advantage to the Bruins at forward as I’ll take their centre ice over almost every team in the NHL. I find myself liking the Habs defence more, but that is only if they don’t play Douglas Murray – who might be the worst defenceman in the NHL to get regular-ish minutes. If Montreal plays him for “toughness” well, goodbye.
You’re not going to beat the Bruins at their own game. Other teams have tried, and failed. The teams that have beat the Bruins play the game their way.
In net the series is a total toss up. Picking between Price and Rask is like choosing between Miranda Kerr and Adriana Lima. Picking between a smoked meat sandwich and delicious chowder.
Close your eyes, flip a coin, flail your arms about and when the coin lands freeze. Determine if your arms look more like a big “C” or a big “B”. That’s how I picked.
Bruins in 7
Metropolitan Division Championship
#1 Pittsburgh Penguins vs #2 New York Rangers
I feel bad for these two teams. One of them will raise a banner claiming they won the dumbest named division ever next season.
Anyway, Pittsburgh cannot play defence. They are bad at it. Very bad at it. And they’re goaltending is not great either. In fact, both are very bad. This is a team that struggled to defend against a team that only had one player score more than 60 points in the regular season. Now who are they playing?
A team that boasts Martin St.Louis, Rick Nash, Brad Richards, Derek Stepan and Mats Zuccarello. Granted, guys like Nash and Richards aren’t quite who they were a few seasons ago, but still – they still know how to score. And Richards was arguably the best Ranger in round 1.
As far as things that are working against the Rangers, I don’t think they boast a hard forward match-up for either of Crosby or Malkin, which can be problematic as you don’t want two of the absolute best players on the planet to run wild on you like Hulk Hogan.
Luckily, they have the best goaltender in the series with Henrik Lundqvist, and play a strong system game that can stifle the Penguins.
I didn’t like the Penguins last round because of how loose they can be defensively. It is even worse when Marc-Andre Fleury seems he’s always tiptoeing along the tight-rope of a mental meltdown. The Rangers are a bit slow though, and a fast game can expose the lack of footspeed on defence. It doesn’t help too that Ryan McDonaugh is playing injured.
Rangers in 6
Central Division Championship
#3 Chicago Blackhawks vs #4 Minnesota Wild
The Wild are a good team. They have some depth at forward with a strong top-9, a horse on defence with Ryan Suter, and they are a surprisingly good possession team.
Unfortunately, they’ve already changed goaltenders twice this series. Starting with Ilya Bryzgalov, losing with him, switching to Darcy Kuemper, losing with him, and going back to Bryzgalov. Thats not a shining beacon of stability.
The Hawks on the otherhand, are pretty much the best. Don’t let the regular season fool you. This was the best team in the league a year ago, and they were the best team in their division.
The lineup from top to bottom is terrific, and that allows the Hawks to dictate play. It is hard to make the Hawks play your game because they’re too busy having the puck and making you defend. And if you’re dumb enough to think your game is defending, you’re toast.
However, no one is confusing Corey Crawford in the Chicago goal for Ed Belfour or Dominik Hasek. He’s been prone to soft performances before, but lucky for him is that Chicago is usually so good they can bail him out.
I just cannot think of an outcome where Minnesota wins.
Blackhawks in 5
Pacific Division Championship
#1 Anaheim Ducks vs #3 Los Angeles Kings
Both teams in this series won their last series in pretty impressive fashion. The Ducks overcame a 3 goal deficit in the third period against the Dallas Stars, then won the game in overtime.
The Kings were down 3 games to none in the series. Then won 4 straight to beat the San Jose Sharks. Both are very impressive feats.
So who has the upper hand in this series?
The Ducks have the two best offensive players in the series with their dynamic duo of Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf. Both have 7 points through the first round.
The goaltending also is not a problem in Anaheim, although it isn’t of much support either. Whoever plays between Frederik Andersen, Jonas Hiller and John Gibson is sure to do well, but I’m not convinced of their ability to steal a win.
Where the Kings have the edge is throughout the lineup. They are such a deep team. Just look at their top 9 up front. Its always some combination of:
That is really good and has a lot of flexibility. Add in the best defenceman the series has in Drew Doughty and a defence corps that overall is just deep and terrific, and you’ve got a great case for victory.
Will the Kings forwards be too much for the Anaheim defence that is without Stephane Robidas? Will Perry and Getzlaf be able to carry the bulk of the series? Will Anaheim’s bottom 9 be good enough to win a couple of games?
I have more questions about Anaheim’s ability to compete with Los Angeles than the other way around.
Kings in 6