Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Way Late... Round Two Predictions

I don't have time for this crap.  I was lulled into a sound sleep from the Western Conference being over in a week, next thing I knew, the East is still playing Game 7's while the West started on the second round.

Whatever.  This is what my bracket looked like after the first round.

Actually, it was bloodier.  With less excitement.

Getting your two Cup picks getting blown out in the first round will piss you off something fierce, let me tell you.  Despite that Club Fuckery, I still went four for eight, that's about as good as flipping a coin.  You want good pro hockey insight, you come right fucking here.

In case you didn't get enough, here's the next round, which I've conveniently posted nearly two games late.  But you'll see I'm so stupid I'll still go against the results and pick what everyone now knows will not happen.  Somehow giving validity to it all.  Poetic isn't it?

The Kings had a gameplan.  They executed it, and took the #1 seed out swiftly.  They're running with that ball, and having Jonathan Quick doesn't hurt either.  The Blues made short work of the Sharks, as most of us intelligent prognosticators expected.  Sharks don't win shit, Blues are good this year, equals San Jose turfed in first round.  As we've already seen, the Kings are showing that the Blues are fallible.  I expected this one to go to seven, and could have gone either way, but my gut said the Kings would take it.  If I wasn't cheating, you'd think I was a genious.

Kings in 7.

The Coyotes are a dogged team.  I'll give you a minute to collect yourself.  They work hard, are well coached, and have a goaltender that is just feeling it right now.  If the Blackhawks could stop enjoying themselves from being themselves they may have won that series.  That, and Corey Crawford absolutely blows.  The Predators dispatched the old, and wobbly Red Wings handily.  No surprise, not this year at least.  They've been caught off guard by the Coyotes, but this series is far from over.  They'll regain composure, and I originally expected them to take it in 6.  That looks doubtful now, but stranger things have happened.  By the way I'd love to see the Coyotes run the table.  Fantastic.

Predators in 6.

It took the Rangers 7 games to beat a Senators team that was playing on borrowed time.  For that deep a Rangers team it was pretty despicable.  The Capitals on the other hand took down the giant in 7 close 1-goal games.  Its easy to say those games could go either way, but the Caps are here and the Bruins are not.  This is another series that has upset written all over it.  Is this the year the Capitals finally hit their stride?  They look like shit all season with some small glimpses of Ovechkin returning to form, and now Dale "I didn't hear the whistle" Hunter finally saying, "Fuck the egos, we're doing it the way we always should have been."

Caps in 7.

The Flyers absolutely crushed the Penguins.  They ripped their balls off, chewed them, and swallowed them like they weren't eating testicles.  The Devils needed seven games to beat the Panthers.  The Florida Panthers.  Typical. "New Jersey" typical.  I expect the Devils to go out without a whimper.  Giroux is in beast mode, and the Flyers are hungry.  Brodeur is going to be shown the door at least once in this series.

Flyers in 4.

I would put any stock in my predictions but if you're an idiot, I would say we're looking at Flyers East vs. Flyers West for a final.  Nashville could easily get in the way of that, they looked poised in the first round, not so much now.  It would definetely make for an interesting Cup Final with all the story tie-ins.  And a big fuck you to whoever loses.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Quick Thoughts on the Post Last Night 4/11/12

Pens vs. Flyers

Blowing a 3-0 lead at home to start does not give you that same warm and fuzzy feeling you had for the Penguins steamrolling into the postseason.  Danny Briere threw the team on his back for a goal or two, and got a team who never said die, back into game that seemed decided pretty early on.  Brayden Schenn had a breakout three-point night, assisting on Briere's goals, and tipping the tying goal home.  You've got to give Bryzgalov a lot of credit, he hung in there when everyone had already written him off.

Preds vs. Wings

This was exactly the type of game you expected it to be, just a constant back and forth, wearing down game, the two teams only capitalizing on each other's mistakes.  Pekka Rinne and Jimmy Howard were great, with the exception of that second goal for the Predators.  Jimmah would like to have that one back I bet.  Weber seemed off his game the whole night, just completely uncomfortable out there.  He saw red after Zetterberg bumped him late in the game, and just went stupid.  Really undisciplined at a point in the game when it shouldn't matter.

Canucks vs. Kings

Talk about uncomfortable, the Canucks looked out of their skin last night, and barely showed any signs of returning to form.  To their credit, the Kings had a game plan, came out flying, and brought it all night long.  Luongo was the only reason the score was as close as it was.  Quick wasn't too shabby either, but we've come to expect that this postseason after a Vezina worthy regular season.  But late in the third, the score was tied at two, if the Canucks had pulled out a win, that would've been a crushing blow to the Kings, having given everything they had and not come out with a win.  But it didn't, and so, it doesn't matter.

All in All...

Welcome to the learning curve of officiating in the postseason, as opposed to the dramatic difference in the regular season.  Thought the officiating, across the board, in all three games, was absolutely horrible.  Some officiating teams were of the mindset to let them play, others called every goddamn thing, and sometimes for one time only.

Nashville was the only team to win at home, once again making us question the difference of home field advantage in the postseason.  And also that seedings don't matter coming out of the gate of the post.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Full Bracket

There she is, in all her miserable glory. A further elaboration from the wake up call of yesterday's post. No confidence in this whatsoever, even though there aren't many risky moves out here. Well maybe a few, depending on which fanbase you talk to. I've got the Finals at a seven-gamer between the Canucks and Penguins. I think the Pens have a better shot of getting there than the Coconuts, but that's just me. And apparently every other pundit, (or idiot with a blog). Separated East and West brackets below.

The risky here is the Predators making it to the West finals, then again, you could probably say that about the Canucks too. Its funny, they win the President's Trophy the last two years, and they still seem to be the odds on upset. I could easily see the Blues making me look like an idiot too, but that wouldn't be there fault, the blame would be squarely on me.
I really don't see much risk in the first round picks in the East, other than the glorious 4/5 matchup, which is always problematic. Like I mentioned earlier, the Pens seem to be the favorite for going long. The risk here is pushing the Devils to beat the Rangers. Honestly, I'm biased. My hate for the Rangers is too damn strong. But even if they pass the Devils, I think they're dead in the water against the Pens. Honestly, I think whoever wins the battle of Pittsburgh goes to the Cup Finals.

Conn Smythe winner... Even with the Canucks to take it, I bet its going to go to the losing team this year. And my vote is the probably Hart Trophy winner, Evgeny Malkin. Beast-mode is not strong enough a term for how this guy has been playing.
Enjoy the two and a half month hockey orgy.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

And We're Back... Predictions

Should I lead off by saying, don't expect too much? I think with the prolonged hiatus and the lack of quality posts should cover that. I couldn't miss this, its Christmas time for hockey fans. So let's jump right in shall we?
Western Conference
#1 Vancouver Canucks vs. #8 Los Angeles Kings
How sloppy was that Pacific Conference race to mediocrity? And Drew Doughty adding that little blackboard material of wanting to knock the Sharks out, only to lose both games in the home-and-home finale. Well Terry Murray's gone and Darryl Sutter's in, and not much has changed. Jeff Carter whined his way out of Columbus and somehow he was lucky enough to get traded to the same team his best friend forever was shipped off to. They should have sent that little bitch to the Islanders just to send a message. But the Kings still have Jonny Quick and Anze Kopitar, and they'll have to ride those two horses into the ground to have any shot of beating the Canucks.
Vancouver slept their way through the second half of the season and still end up with the Presidents' Trophy, for better or worse. I can't tell if they're lying in waiting, or if they're just disinterested at this point, but they don't appear to be a team ready for the post show. Even still they're a talent-ladent team that beefed up defensively, if not bulkier. They're going to give Roberto Luongo the chance to do it himself, but if it were me, I'd be starting Cory Schneider, ego be damned. They'll need Daniel Sedin back to be dominant, but should be able to walk over the Kings fairly easily.
Canucks in 6.
#2 St. Louis Blues vs. #7 San Jose Sharks
Never thought I'd be putting those numbers with those teams back in October. I really don't know how the Blues missed taking the points lead, but I see them as the most dominant team coming out of the West at this point. Hitchcock has got a solid roster operating like a well-oiled machine. The two headed tandem of Jaro Halak and Brian Elliott provides security, and they can roll out three solid lines with a vengence. Their defense moves the puck well and will be the difference in this series.
The Sharks on the other hand are just slowly breaking down. Then again, every other year they've rolled into the postseason strong, and looked like Cup contenders, they've never made it. But its not like they still don't have high expectations, even limping in as the seventh seed. That seems to be the killer for this team, that and a lack of a killer instinct. I really don't expect them to make it out of this round, especially with how the Blues have owned them this season, and the fact that this team is just getting older and older.
Blues in 5.
#3 Phoenix Coyotes vs. #6 Chicago Blackhawks
Phoenix grabs the division title and look the best they've ever been with Tippett at the helm. Mike Smith has been a revelation after stinking it up in Dallas and Tampa for years. You want to feel good about the Coyotes making some progress in the postseason, but their first round exits in years past makes that sunshiny feeling run away real quick. Honestly the Coyotes are a middle of the road team that got a good seed thanks to a lousy Pacific division.
The Blackhawks are two years removed from a Stanley Cup, but a team that has seen a lot of personnel ship out since then, with the exception of the core of Toews, Kane, Hossa, Keith, Seabrook, and I'll even throw Hjalmarsson in there. Corey Crawford isn't Antti Niemi, but even Niemi wasn't and still isn't considered a Stanley Cup winning goaltender. The Hawks know what it takes to win, but with Toews probably not being 100% after his concussion (from car accident not some other bullshit), it leaves a little room for skepticism. But still, I think the Hawks will have enough to win even if it takes the whole series.
Blackhawks in 7.
#4 Nashville Predators vs. #5 Detroit Red Wings
This is it, we're all in. Wait, who are we talking about? I would say its the same for both teams. Detroit is on its last legs with this roster, but are still the deepest team organizationally that this League has ever seen. I expect this to be the swan song for Lidstrom and Holmstrom, and without that presence on the blue line and in front of the net for years to come, I expect to see a slide. But the ol' boys will give it one last run, and the wizardry of Zetterberg, Datsyuk, and Franzen while still amazing, is starting to wane. Okay, maybe not Datsyuk, but he's an alien. Jimmy Howard is a strong goaltender, but I've seen the playoffs break him down, mentally more than anything.
The Preds have certainly pushed everything into the pot, if not to now get out of the second round alive after conquering the demon of the first round, then just to keep Shea Weber and Ryan Suter in Nashville for a few more years. The coup of re-obtaining Alex Radulov certainly helped the cause, if not conveniently timed, but carefully handled by GM David Poile. They grabbed a few others to beef up the lineup in front of the immovable Pekka Rinne. This is the best shot they've ever had of going deep, and I believe they can get past the postseason stalwarts of Detroit.
Predators in 6.
Eastern Conference
#1 New York Rangers vs. #8 Ottawa Senators
Ottawa has been the surprise of the year, with Paul MacLean behind the bench he's had a steady hand on the youth and experience of this Senators club. Erik Karlsson has been the revelation for this team, and its true he loves playing the game, and has tremendous skill, but he is far from being a complete hockey player. Alfredsson is exactly that, but this again is probably his last hurrah, despite the ability to probably go a few more years. Spezza will need to continue his strong play, and Michalak will have to go back to his play in the 1st half of the season, which are both unlikely to happen.
This is most certainly the Rangers best chance at doing some damage since 1994, but something in me just believes that they are not built as a playoff team, I don't know why. They've got a lineup of lunchpail guys, a hero in Brad Richards, a sniper in Marian Gaborik, and a helluva backstop in Henrik Lundqvist, but I don't like their chances beyond this first round. John Tortorella, love or hate him, turns teams into contenders. His shot blocking methods are what brought the Stanley Cup to Tampa Bay, and this Rangers team has turned it into an art.
Rangers in 5.
#2 Boston Bruins vs. #7 Washington Capitals
This should really be a lot better matchup than it is, but I don't think anyone has any faith in Dale Hunter leading the Caps anywhere. If you had a choice right now, to enter the postseason with Bruce Boudreau or Hunter behind the bench, who would you take? You may not think Boudreau has what it takes to lead this team to some sort of promised land, but you certainly don't think Hunter has it in him. Ovechkin has slightly returned to his old form in the last few weeks of the season, but he'll still need to up the ante to put this team on his back and get them through this round. And he'll need help, Nicklas Backstrom's return helps, Alex Semin will need to play like he gives a shit, and that playoff monster in Joel Ward will need to return for them to do any damage on a bruising Bruins squad.
Boston was flat after the midseason break, but returned to form at the end of the season. I really don't know have the Bruins have the energy, or desire, to get the 12 wins to get to the Finals, but are nonetheless a strong, well-built team. Tim Thomas is not the same goalie he was last year, then again, the postseason let out a freak in him that earned him a Conn Smythe by the second or third round. You've still got Bergeron, Krejci, Lucic, Seguin, and Chara to deal with, and they definetely know what it takes to up it another level.
Bruins in 6.
#3 Florida Panthers vs. #6 New Jersey Devils
Back in the postseason for the first time in forever, this Frankenstein of a team with Kevin Dineen will give the people of Miami/Ft. Lauderdale something to cheer about, if only for a short while. As everyone has said, this team won a division title thanks to being in an incredibly weak division that saw Washington take a nosedive. They'll give a try, probably win a game on home ice, but I expect it to be over quick.
The Devils are most certainly a better club than the Panthers, and won't need much to sleepwalk through this series. DeBoer is a solid coach who's handled the team well despite last year's debacle after the Summer of Ilya. Brodeur is nowhere near the goalie he once was, and I honestly hope he hangs them up after getting a first round win after a few years. I wouldn't call this an upset, but maybe beating the Rangers in the next round would be.
Devils in 5.
#4 Pittsburgh Penguins vs. #5 Philadelphia Flyers
The 4/5 matchups are certainly the best, probably because they're the most even. Either one of these teams could move on, but they'll be worse for wear in the next round. Pittsburgh was so damn strong without Crosby, adding him only makes them scarier. Malkin has been a beast all year, but he's got support and that's what makes this team so dangerous. Fleury is a solid, little goaltender, who can do enough to get a win.
Philadelphia will need Ilya Bryzgalov to be stellar, and even steal this round to give the Flyers some hope. Pronger's presence is deeply missed, and I have a feeling we'll see him in the next round if the Flyers can get there, and if not, in late games in this round. The Flyers have scoring depth like the Penguins but will need it from all parts of the lineup. This will be a brutal series and more than likely the best one of the first round. Its anybody's guess who ends up the winner in this one.
Penguins in 7.
Sorry about the formatting for this, Blogger sucks.