First we start with the left, and you can see I've gone out on a limb. That lonely bandwagon of a limb. I almost had Columbus beating Detroit in seven, but I put the gun down. I just couldn't do it. Pussy. Taking out Detroit early would have made this whole bracket easier, and I still feel really uneasy about San Jose going against them late. But as I've said all year for the Sharks, "if not now, when?"
As for the right, you can see the wagon is fully loaded. Taking the number one's in both conferences seems like the safe bet, but that's hardly the case. I just don't see anyone beating Boston from the East. Sure there's hot teams right now like Pittsburgh and Carolina, but the layover will affect those teams, and these are the playoffs. Anyone can get hot. Or cold.
As for the prize I'm taking San Jose in six. I feel like an idiot just typing it. I don't like these picks anymore than you do, but this is how I made my bed, and now I'm sleeping in it. In shit.
Since I've gone with the number one's to go all the way, I'm taking Nabokov and Thomas as my 'tenders. Even if I hadn't picked them to go deep, I still think those are solid choices. The only other two I could go with are Fleury and Luongo, but I'm just not feeling either of them.
As for defensemen, I've decided to go with Scott Niedermayer, Brian Rafalski, Mathieu Schneider, and Johnny Oduya. Oduya is obviously the odd man out here, but I don't think the Devils are going anywhere against the 'Canes, and I'd hate to waste a forward, like Parise on a first round flop. With Markov out "indefinetely" I can't consciously take him, so I've got to go with Schneider and hope the Bruins take a lot of penalties. I don't trust any forward on that Canadiens team. I like Rafalski over Lidstrom this year, but usually Nicklas is always one of my defensive picks, even on a team with Datysuk, Zetterberg, and Franzen. I could have taken Getzlaf, but Scotty Niedermayer is just so clutch, besides I don't think they're getting past the Sharks.
To wrap this thing up I'll roll out my forward lines. I had to take Toews over Kane, seeing Johnny as a much more all around player than Patty. I took Jokinen seeing as how Iginla seems to be on the downslope of his career, and I've developed a new hatred for that whining bitch Phaneuf. I took Nash for lack of a better option, Daniel Sedin as the top point-getter of the twins, and Brad Boyes since he's been a monster lately. For the east, Eric Staal has been tearing up, Ovechkin because sometimes he has the ability to score goals, Drury for his drive, Malkin because he's Russian, and Richards because he's a complete player.
As for the "probably shoulda's"... Dan Boyle would have been a great defensive choice, I'll probably kick myself for not taking Lidstrom, or Kane. It would be great to see Sundin bust out but he's been playing like he rather would've retired. Zdeno Chara or Phil Kessel would have been solid point-getters, Kovalev is an enigma, Markov has the dreaded lower body injury, Parise and Lagenbrunner are the Devils only hopes. Mike Green is another solid d-man, but how do you not take AO? Actually I even thought about grabbing Semin or even Backstrom. Gomez? Crosby? I'll stick with Drury and Malkin. Timonen or Carter would have been good to have, but Richards is just too well-rounded.
I'll be second-guessing myself the whole way through, and re-picking each round when I fail miserably. But at least you've got my guess for now.