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Playoff Predictions


Jason Chen

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It's that time of year again... the best time of the year! And of course, like every year, I make my predictions. Usually I'm pretty good, but this year I think the West is completely wide open. I think there's a potential for upset in every single series. I'm cheating a little bit here because the first games have been played, but (swear to God!) I made these picks before the games.

EAST

Washington over Montreal in 6.

- Really, there's no contest, no matter what Tomas Plekanec might think. Sure, the Habs have the advantage in goal, but it's marginal at best, because despite Jaroslav Halak's save percentage the Habs are still allowing more than two and half goals per game.

Buffalo over Boston in 7.

- Both Tuukka Rask and Ryan Miller can stop the biscuit as well as anyone in the league, but the difference maker here is that the Sabres can put the puck in the net. The Bruins are starved on offense and Peter Chiarelli's announcement that Marc Savard will be ready for round two will be all for naught because I can't see the Bruins making it out of this one, but they will put up a fight. The Bruins have a noticeable physical advantage over the Sabres but that fatigue probably won't show until the second round.

<img src="http://www3.pictures.gi.zimbio.com/Philadelphia+Flyers+v+New+Jersey+Devils+EjNLLT7kBoIl.jpg"class="imageFloatRightFramed">Philadelphia over New Jersey in 6.

- The Flyers did take game one, but my decision to take the Broad Street Bullies wasn't based on that. It's based on this telling fact: since the lockout, the Devils have been eliminated from the semifinals two years in a row and then from the quarterfinals two years in a row. See a trend? It doesn't matter if Martin Brodeur stops enough pucks (he boasted a .929 SV% last year), the Devils just can't seem to find the timely scoring. Also, let's not forget that Chris Pronger has made the finals in the first year of every new city he's played for. It'll be a close series but I see the Flyers taking it, even with Ilya Kovalchuk on the Devils and Brian Boucher in net.

Pittsburgh over Ottawa in 6.

- Ottawa took game one in a shocker, but the Pens will pull it together. There's no way Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin will allow their team to get ousted in the opening round. The Sens are playing with less pressure, since most people are already counting them out, especially with the loss of Alexei Kovalev.

WEST

San Jose over Colorado in 6.

- Like the Senators, the Avs have very little pressure on them. All eyes are on the Sharks, who are looking to at least reach the Conference Finals. Anything less would be a failure, despite yet another fantastic regular season. I think the Avs are still too green, although it would give the Denver hockey market a huge boost if they advance. Not since the days of Joe Sakic and Peter Forsberg have I see so much optimism in the Mile High City.

Chicago over Nashville in 5.

- I've noted in previous blog posts that Barry Trotz has really gotten the short end of the stick with Nashville's constantly depleted roster. Trotz's squads have never won a playoff round and that's not necessarily his fault, and it won't be again this year. Against perhaps the most talented team in the league, even the blue-collar Preds won't be able to fend off Joel Quenneville's multi-faceted attack. Even if Pekka Rinne completely stands on his hand, the Preds don't have enough top-end talent to win.

<img src="http://tapiaphoto.files.wordpress.com/2009/11/269091029002_canucks_at_kings_blog.jpg"class="imageFloatLeftFramed">Vancouver over Los Angeles in 6.

- The Kings crushed the Canucks in a 8-3 win in their last regular season meeting, but the playoffs are a completely different animal and the Kings haven't tasted the postseason since 2002. Both Jonathan Quick and Roberto Luongo, the two key players in this series, have struggled down the stretch and it remains to be seen which man can find his game quicker. However, the Canucks are just too deep up front and with a vaunted powerplay LA's mediocre PK unit should be quivering. Vancouver's defense remains the team's Achilles' heel, but if Henrik and Daniel Sedin can pin the Kings in their own zone it won't be a problem at all. Henrik has especially embraced his new role with the Canucks as their primary go-to man and who knows what he and Daniel have in store for the playoffs. Could you imagine if they elevated their game even more?

Detroit over Phoenix in 6.

- Phoenix took game one and looked pretty good doing it. But I would never count out any team coached by Mike Babcock and captained by the steady Nicklas Lidstrom. The Coyotes, like the Avs and Sens, have zero pressure on them to perform - by all accounts they have had successful seasons considering the expectations that had been placed upon them, but like any young team the Coyotes are hungry. The Wings are ranked lower, but they're definitely not the underdog. Dave Tippett's teams have generally performed well in the playoffs but have had some terrible luck.

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The Kings didn't win the season series against the Canucks. It was 3-1 for us

You're right - I must've misread the 1-2-1 record.

Second mistake in two posts. Yikes.

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