It seems nowadays everyone has an opinion on who is going to win each series in the NHL’s Stanley Cup playoffs, be it trusted experts, ex NHL’ers or heck, even a monkey. Doug Maclean falls into one of these categories, we’re not going to tell you which one, you can decide that for yourself. We will however follow the crowd and let you know who we think is going to move on into round two.
We will be going round by round giving you our picks, series mvp’s and goats as the match ups are determined. Assuming of course the Canucks haven’t been eliminated. In which case, we’ll stop caring all together.
New York Rangers (109 Pts) vs Ottawa Senators (92 Pts)
Season Series: 3-1 Sens
The Rangers return to the top of the Eastern Conference on the back of a stingy defence and another Vezina nomination worthy season from Henrik Lundquist. On paper this looks like a cake walk for the Rangers but the Sens dominated the season series and being led by the resurgence possible Hart candidate Jason Spezza and Norris nominee Henrik Karlsson, could be poised for an upset.
I think Ottawa makes one hell of a series out of this one, maybe even jumping out to the early lead. But in the end expect the Rangers led by their Veteran, cup winning coach John Tortorella to pull it out.
Rangers in 7.
Series mvp: Henrik Lundquist. It’s no secret that he is the heart and soul of this series should be no different. Lundquist will have to be huge.
Series goat: Jason Spezza. While his return to the top caliber of NHL players have been nice this year, I’ve seen the Spezza disappearing act far too many times to think that it won’t show up yet again at some point in this series. Sens simple cannot afford that if they expect to win.
The Rangers were one of the more consistent teams in the league thisseason, and a win vs Washington on the last day of the regular seasonwould have got them the Presidents Trophy, but the hungry Capitals gotthe much needed win. Guys like Marion Gaborik, Ryan Callahan and youngdefensive stud Micheal Del Zotto stepped up their game this season,and the team adopted a hard working system under coach JohnTortorella. On the other side the Ottawa Senators at the beginning ofthe season, were picked as a team that was in rebuild mode, and a teamthat wouldn't see any playoff hockey. Long time Senators DanielAlfredsson and Jason Spezza both came off disappointing seasons andlead this team into the top 8 this season. Another surprise emerged asrookie Erik Karlsson lead NHL scoring for defenceman, and played inthe Allstar game in Ottawa. I think the Rangers get by in this onehere, they've been consistent for the entire year, but Ottawa is definitely heading into the right direction.
Rangers in 5
Series MVP: Marion Gaborik. He scored 41 goals this season, and always made the most out of his opportunities. I can see him having a very productive series.
Series goat: Erik Karlsson. I know he's a rookie, and he just came off an unbelievable season, and trust me I love this kid, but he will struggle in his first taste of playoff hockey, it'll be a great learning experience though as he develops.
Boston Bruins (102 Pts) vs Washington Capitals (92 Pts)
Season Series: 3-1 Caps
Ah yes, our friends, the defending champions from Baaahston.
The Bruins struggled with consistency since the All-Star break and with Washington this season for that matter. Luckily for them Washington has zero goaltending and the battle tested Bruins should be able to squeak one out against the Caps.
Expect a slow start from the Bruins, with a very shaky Thomas. Remember before his heroics in last years final he was brutal for stretches. Fortunately for him, the Bruins have a very capable backup in Rask who should be able to hold the fort as the Bruins take full advantage of the even weaker net minding from Washington.
Bruins in 5
Series mvp: Tyler Seguin. When finally given the opportunity to play in last years playoffs Seguin lit it up, I expect much of the same from him in the first round.
Series goat: Alexander Semin. Who else? This guy never shows up and with his pending departure from Washington, why would he start now?
As much as this Canucks fan would love to see Washington eliminate thedefending Stanley Cup champions, I just dont see it happening. TheCapitals dominated the season series, but Bostons in your face workethic will frustrate the likes of Ovechkin, Semin, and Backstrom inthis series. The Bruins were much more inconsistent in this yearsregular season than last year, and looked more like a team that had abit of a hangover, but down the stretch here they looked like they gotback to their Bruins style of hockey. The Capitals will have youngBraden Holtby in net for this series due to injuries, and as good asthis kid looks, I don't think it will be enough to save the Capitals.
Bruins in 6
Series MVP: Milan Lucic. Coming off a Stanley Cup win last season and62 points in the regular season, Milan didn't really lose a beat as hescored 61 points this season. He will be huge in this series, and lookfor him to be Bostons go to guy.
Series goat: Mike Green. What ever happened to the Mike Green from acouple seasons ago? You know, the one that scored 31 goals? To hiscredit, he was injured for most the season, but in the games he didplay, he looked very lost out there. I can see him having a very roughtime against Bostons big forwards.
Florida Panthers (94 Pts) vs New Jersey Devils (102 Pts)
Season Series: 2-2
Once again the team nobody pays attention to, the New Jersey Devils have quietly racked up another 100 point season. The Panthers are a nice story finally making it back to the playoffs for the first time since 2000. Where they were swept.
Expect much of the same in this one.
The only chance I see Florida having in this series is if Martin Brodeur continues his string of poor playoff performances, which we never used to see from one of the greatest goaltenders of all time. Even with that, he gets a few mulligans in this series as the Devils make quick work of the Panthers.
Devils in 5
Series mvp: Patrik Elias. The old guy can still get it done and he is going to feast upon the Panthers.
Series goat: Clemmensen/Theodore. Really, whoever is unfortunate enough to be in goal from game to game.
This is one of the more feel good stories in the NHL, seeing the Panthers back in the postseason for the first time since 2000, when that team lead by Pavel Bure were eliminated by these same New Jersey Devils . The Panthers had a very busy offseason, and aquired alot of experience by adding guys like Kris Versteeg, John Madden, Ed Jovanovski, and Mikael Samuelsson, to name a few. They definately needed this change after 12 years of not making the postseason, and I can see these guys squeaking this one out against the Devils. Florida will have to shutdown the likes of Kovalchuk who is coming off of a stellar season, Parise and rookie senation Adam Henrique. The longer this series goes, the more likely it is that Florida advances.
Panthers in 7
Series MVP: Mike Santorelli. He only scored 11 points in 60 games thisseason, but his previous year showed me that this guy was the realdeal. I think he becomes a big factor for the Panthers and believe itor not, lead all players in points in this series.
Series goat: Martin Brodeur. I love this guy, he's won everything youcan possibly win, but his play has been gradually declining the lastfew years, and he gives up his fair share of stinkers.
Pittsburgh Penguins (108 Pts) vs Philadelphia Flyers (103 Pts)
Season Series: 4-2 Flyers
The series everyone is looking forward to, the battle of Pennsylvania. So many stars, so much hate. Settle in and enjoy the show because these two rivals never disappoint.
Dave: I expect an absolute war here and despite the Flyers winning the season series, I think home ice is a massive factor in this one. Flyers are really going to miss Chris Pronger here.
Pens in 7
Series mvp: James Neal. He will be overshadowed at times by the immense star power both teams bring to the table, but expect him to continue doing what he’s been doing all season. Putting the puck in the net.
Series goat: When the Flyers lose, there is only one option, their goalie. Ilya Bryzgalov gets shelled in game 7 and another promising Flyers goaltending career goes down in Flames.
This is probably the most anticipated series in the playoffs. To quoteScott Hartnell of the Philadelphia Flyers, "This will be a bloodbath".These two teams do not like eachother, actually thats anunderstatement, cause the hatred between these runs very very deep. Itdidn't help that these two teams met a couple times in the last coupleweeks of the regular season. There were cheapshots, blood, and lots ofsmack talk exchanged between the players and even the coaches. Thereturn of Sidney Crosby has sparked the Penguins, and vaulted them tothe top of the conference, 2 points shy from Presidents Trophy. Crosbyand his partner in crime Evgeni Malkin have turned this team into aStanley Cup favorite in some peoples minds. I do like what the Flyershave done this season, and you can't overlook the success that ClaudeGiroux had this season, but this series, will all the offensivefirepower on both sides, will come down to goaltending, and I justdont think Bryzgalov has enough in the tank to stop Sid the Kid andEvgeni "Gino" Malkin. This will be a series everyone sgould tune into.
Pens in 6
Series MVP: Evgeni Malkin. He will huge, and will score some big goals that will turn the tide in their games. Look for James Neal to also factor in and provide secondary scoring.
Series goat: Ilya Bryzgalov, he of the long term contract. His unique style of goaltending will get exposed in this series. He's shown he can shut the door, but this Penguins team means business. I don't see him making that "big save" teams need to stay in it.
Vancouver Canucks (111 Pts) vs Los Angeles Kings (95 Pts)
Season Series: 2-2
In a rematch of the 2010 Western Conference Quarter Finals Vancouver vs LA promises to be another very tight affair. Jonathan Quick has had a Vezina like season and could very easily steal this one if the Canucks aren’t careful.
Dave: With the uncertainty of Daniel Sedin’s availability this is a tough one to call. The teams are quite evenly matched across the board but if the Canucks can get their powerplay going their experience should take over and be enough to get them the victory.
Canucks in 6
Series mvp: Alex Edler. Last time these 2 teams met in the playoffs Edler was a huge physical presence and helped turn the series in Vancouver’s favour. If he can bring that paired with his offensive ability from the back end, he should be a huge factory in this one.
Series goat: Mike Richards. A very sub par season for Richards’ standards. If he cannot raise his play to that of previous playoffs with the Flyers, the Kings have no chance.
I dont think the Canucks will be blowing the Kings out in any of these games, but I think the depth and wins the Canucks got down the stretch in close games will pay off in this round. If the Kings are to steal this series, Jonathan Quick will have to be their best player, and Los Angeles will need to score goals, they come into the playoffs 29th in goals for. The Kings made a splash trading defenceman Jack Johnson to Columbus for some more firepower upfront in Jeff Carter. They also added Mike Richards in the offseason, a former teammate of Carter in Philadelphia, and so far, it hasn't provided the offence management in LA thought it would. If the Canucks powerplay starts to click, especially with Daniel Sedin back at some point, the Kings will be in
Canucks in 5
Series MVP: Alexander Edler. I really think he took a huge step forward this season, he replaced Christian Ehrhoffs scoring after he left with 60 points, and also made his 1st NHL Allstar game appearance. Look for Edlers physical play and powerful point shot to be a huge difference in this series.
Series goat: Mike Richards. This guy has gotten a free pass ever since he arrived in Los Angeles, he underachieved in the regular season, scoring just 44 points, one of the few reasons the Kings didn't light the lamp.
St. Louis Blues (109 Pts) vs San Jose Sharks (96 Pts)
Season Series: 4-0 Blues
The surprising, youthful Blues take on the disappointing San Jose Sharks. In another series that should be an all out war.
Dave: I wavered on this one as I feel the Blues are overrated and have overachieved for the most part this season. But with San Jose still being led by the likes of Patrick Marleau and “No Show Joe” it’s hard to get behind these guys. You’ve gotta think this is the last kick at the can for the Sharks core and they should give the Blues all they can handle, but it won’t be enough.
Blues in 7
Series mvp: Jaroslav Halak. We all saw what he did the last time he was in the playoffs, with a way better defence in front of him than he ever had in Montreal, expect him to shine again.
Series goat: Joe Thornton. With so many options why not go with what you no? Joe once again cements his nickname as truth as David Backes shuts him down.
This is a matchup that you look at and think, wow, St.Louis is the team with home ice? This series is a tale of two teams who went in opposite directions than what was predicted. You look at the Sharks roster and think, how did they not win their division? You look at the Blues, and they got some nice young talent, but this team scores by committee. Ken Hitchcock certainly turned things around in St.Louis, and his team had the best home record in the NHL, losing only 5 times in regulation. I think the Sharks depth will get them through this series, but the St.Louis Blues lead by veterans Jamie Langenbrunner and Jason Arnott will definitely give them a good fight.
Sharks in 6
Series MVP: Joe Pavelski. This guy is one of the most underrated players in the league, he can skate well, and has a really good scoring touch. He'll be the leading scorer in this series and the difference.
Series goat: Baret Jackman. His play has been slowly declining and I can see the Sharks top 2 lines exploiting this guy. He was once a force, and does still add some veteran leadership for the younger guys, but at this stage of his career, I don't see it anymore.
Phoenix Coyotes (97 Pts) vs Chicago Blackhawks (101 Pts)
Season Series: 3-1 Coyotes
Another year, another brilliant job by Dave Tippet getting the Coyotes into the playoffs. The Hawks were the top team in the league for a long period of time in the earlier part of the season but ran into goaltending issues. Very Interesting series to predict.
Dave: As in the Florida/ New Jersey series, it’s the case of another team getting a top seed due to winning a terrible division. Chicago’s one weakness is goaltending, which is also the only real strength of the Coyotes… In the regular season, If Jonathan Toewes it healthy and Chicago gets any goaltending whatsoever, expect their plethora of offensively gifted stars and experience to be too much for Phoenix.
Hawks in 5
Series mvp: Jonathan Toewes. Natural leader who almost single handedly willed the Hawks to a first round victory over Vancouver last year, If he’s even close to 100% health, he has a huge series.
Series goat: Mike Smith. Fantastic regular seasons are just that, regular seasons. Smith will need to prove that he’s the real deal come playoff time to be regarded as a truly elite goalie.
This is a series that a lot of people would pick Phoenix to be the underdog, despite having home ice advantage. They've quietly went about their business, but won their respective division in the last few days of the regular season. This is a team that could've easily missed the playoffs, but got the job done when it mattered. Their goaltender Mike Smith has evolved into one of the better goaltenders in the NHL, and goaltending is the reason I pick the Coyotes to win this series. The Hawks, with all the firepower they possess, seem to struggle in the goaltending department. They allowed 238 goals against, 3rd worst in the Western Conference. A tandem of Crawford and Emery just dont seem dangerous to me, and this has nothing to do with hatred of the Blackhawks. I also think the possible absence of Jonathan Toews will be a huge factor. This will be a long series, but the Coyotes will win that Game 7 they couldn't win last season against Detroit.
Coyotes in 7
Series MVP: Mike Smith. As I stated, he was one of the better goaltenders in the NHL this season, and was a huge reason Phoenix got into a playoff spot. I think he will frustrate the likes of Hossa, Sharpe, Kane and Toews, and will be the difference in this series.
Series goat: Dave Bolland. He's a pest, but aproductive pest at times. I think he wears the goat horns in thisseries his undisciplined play that will cost the Hawks.
Nashville Predators (104 Pts) vs Detroit Red Wings (102 Pts)
Season Series: 3-3
Dave: The Preds are much improved this year and after winning a round last year seem ready to take the next step. It’s hard to count out the Red Wings ever, which Is why I think they make one heck of a series out of this. But they are up there in age and unlike past years where that wasn’t a factor, they enter this years playoffs banged up.
Preds in 7
Series Mvp: Mike Fisher, with his smoking hot wife cheering him on and not having to shoulder the entire offensive responsibility, expect a huge series from Fisher.
Series goat: Jimmie Howard. Failed to take the next step as a goalie who was ready for the big time again last playoffs, I’m expecting a repeat performance from him.
This matchup will be very interesting. The Nashville Predators made some very big moves at the deadline to solidify themselves as contenders in the West. They have a great defence lead by Shea Weber and Ryan Suter. They also added some size as they acquired Paul Gaustad from the Buffalo Sabres, a great bottom 6 addition that adds much needed depth. The Detroit Red Wings are a team you can never count out, all the playoff appearances and Stanley Cups show you how good the scouting staff is with this team, who never picks high in the draft. This is the 3rd playoff meeting between these two teams, with Detroit prevailing both times. I think however, with the moves Nashville has made, it will make a huge impact in this series, and the Nashville powerplay is now one that is dangerous any time it gets a chance.
Preds in 7
Series MVP: Mike Fisher. He will lead the way in points in this series and it seems throughout his career, this guy has scored some pretty clutch goals. You add guys like Erat, Wilson, and the Kostitsyns’ upfront, and you know he'll be playing with players who can feed this guy the puck.
Series goat: Todd Bertuzzi. This guy has definitely got his game back, he loves to go to the front of the net and get involved, but that will be his downfall this time around. He has a tendency to take bad penalties, or take his team off the powerplay. With Nashville's defence, look for Todd to be shutdown and frustrated.
And finally, The greater Calgary open. it's a very tough field this year with lots of tough competition. Jay Bouemeester should be near the front of the leaderboard this weekend as he has been hitting the links every single year of his professional career to date. He's also quite commonly found in the minus column, so expect a great tournament out of him. In the long run though we feel that Jerome Iginla's experience accompanied by his knowledge of this course, being that he plays it year after year. Will see him defending his title and coming out on top once again.
Thanks for sticking this one out, it was long, we know
Hope you enjoy round 1.
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