Wednesday, April 11, 2012

NHL Playoff Preview Round 1

Tonight the NHL playoffs start, one of the greatest times of the year.  Here's what to look for in the first round.

Western Conference

#1 Vancouver Canucks vs #8 Los Angeles Kings - The Canucks come into the series winning the President's Trophy, given to the team with the best record in the regular season.  The Kings barely got into the playoffs.  The Canucks have to be the favorite in the series.  The only problem I see with the Canucks is if they lose focus and turn into goons.  The Canucks should win this is series in 5 or 6 games, with the Canucks winning easily.

#2 St. Louis Blues vs #7 San Jose Sharks - Behind the coaching of Ken Hitchcock, the St. Louis Blues had a breakout year.  The Sharks on the other hand, have had an up and down year.  The Sharks have the talent but it seems like they just never get to the promise land.  They are the only team to be in the conference finals the last two years.  The Sharks have experience and the Blues are the new kids on the block.  The Blues have better goaltending.  This is a difficult series for me to pick, I dislike the let's go Sharks!  Sharks in 7.

#3 Phoenix Coyotes vs #6 Chicago Blackhawks - Even though the Blackhawks had more points than the Coyotes in the regular season since the Coyotes won their division they get the #3 seed.  The Blackhawks have had some questionable goal tending, and Smith for the Coyotes has been great.  The Blackhawks captain Toews is questionable with concussion symptoms.  My heart says pick the Blackhawks, and my brain is telling me to pick the Coyotes.  I am really torn right now.  Blackhawks in 7!

#4 Nashville Predators vs #5 Detroit Red Wongs - Just another great series in the Western Conference.  Both teams come from the central division.  We know about the Red Wongs, the captain Lidstrom, who really should retire to a nursing home.  Nashville needs goalie Rinne to have an awesome series.  He is better than Jimmy Howard (Red Wong's goalie).  I think this is Nashville's time, Predators in 6.

Eastern Conference

#1 New York Rangers vs. #8 Ottawa Senators - The Rangers the top seed in the East, and could have won the President's Trophy but lost the last game of the season.  The Senators, like the other #8 seed Kings, barely got into the playoffs.  Could this be a trap series for the Rangers?  The Rangers on paper are clearly the better team.  I like the Rangers in 5 games.

#2 Boston Bruins vs. #7 Washington Capitals - The defending champions, the Boston Bruins, are back to defend the crown.  The Washingon Capitals are just getting healthy and looking to rid themselves of playoff failures of the past.  The Capitals need Alexander the Great to play awesome, like he has never played before.  This is not a gimme series for Boston, even though they are the better team on paper.  I like the Bruins in 6.

#3 Florida Panthers vs. #6 New Jersey Devils - Similar to the #3 vs #6 series in the Western Conference, the New Jersey Devils had more points in the season than Florida, but Florida edged out Washington for the division title.  I am really not that high on the Florida Panthers.  The Devils had over 100 points and played in the toughest division in the Eastern Conference.  New Jersey in 6 games.

#4 Pittsburgh Pen-goons vs. #5 Philadelphia Flyers - This has to be the series that everyone and their mothers will be watching.  Two bitter rivals, playing in the 1st round, life cannot get much better.  Home ice should not matter in this series.  The Flyers are 5-1 in the Pen-goons new stadium.  I hope this series goes 7 games, and is as tough and physical as the regular season.  I hope at the end Cindy Crosby is crying like a little girl.  Flyers in 7, wha up!

The games can be seen on the NBC family of networks, including for the first time CNBC.  Yes, the business channel will be taken over by the NHL.  Clearly, they do not have enough good programming by themselves, the NHL will definitely help.  Season in the Sun will be back to wrap up the first round and preview the second round.

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