Tuesday, May 1, 2012
NHL Second Round Predictions
Flyers - Devils
This one, I'm fairly confident, will go the way I'm rooting for. The Philadelphia Flyers are just too strong offensively for the New Jersey Devils' Martin Brodeur to shut down. Their Gunning Frenchmen Daniel Brière, Claude Giroux, Maxime Talbot and Sean Couturier have proven (time and time again) to be beasts come playoff time, and with solid forwards like James Van Riemsdyk and Jaromir Jagr happy in secondary-scoring roles, nothing can stop them this year. Nothing except the Blues...
I'll give the Devils two tight, overtime wins against a shaky Ilya Bryzgalov, but unlike many observers this post-season, I do remember he posted a team-record shutout streak just a few weeks ago. When he gets in his zone, it's no-go for pucks in the net.
Flyers in 6
Rangers - Capitals
Two teams I like watching, two teams I respect, but also two teams I don't really give a rat's ass about. Sure, I'd love New York Rangers' head coach John Tortorella to coach my home team, but on the other hand, I really loved Dale Hunter growing up. And I still think the Washington Capitals' Alex Ovechkin can be an amazing, electrifying player, but he's not getting any ice time; and I think he's getting tired of the defense-first style of the NHL, quite frankly. Then again, Brad Richards is the prototype of the two-way, top-line center you need in this day and age to win a Stanley Cup - and he has a Conn Smythe trophy to show for it.
All in all, this will likely be decided by the goalies, and Henrik Lundqvist is the best in the world. But I wouldn't mind Ovie getting his name on the Cup. Although in the East, only the Rangers, because of their intense rivalry, can give the Flyers a scare...
Rangers in 7
Blues - Kings
The best defensive team (and goaltending duo) in the league versus the best goalie in the West...
Although the Los Angeles Kings' offense is probably the best of what's left in the West, probably second in the league only to the Flyers... When your third line consists of Mike Richards and Jeff Carter,who brought the Flyers to the Finals just two seasons ago, and Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown are tearing shit up everywhere, and Jonathan Quick stopping everything shot at him, the Kings may seem like they have no weaknesses.
But here's what's going to happen: the Kings will win the first two and give St. Louis Blues' (and former Flyers head coach Ken Hitchcock a headache and a scare, but Jaroslav Halak will return from injury in Game 3 and the tide will turn.
Blues in 6
Predators - Coyotes
Ok, I wrote this after Game 1, and I was shocked to see Nashville Predators' goalie Pekka Rinne give up 4 goals in a single game, and what I saw from him (shaky, uncomfortable, stressed out) made me revise my initial position, which had the Preds winning.
On the other hand, the miracle worker Sean Burke - the goaltending coach of the Phoenix Coyotes who made Bryzgalov a star a couple of years ago and is doing the same thing with Mike Smith right now - cannot be outdone, and the Coyotes have an additional source of motivation this Spring: remaining in the Arizona desert. And head coach Dave Tippett seems to have convinced them that it will be the case if they win, so these guys are playing for a Cause, for the chance of remaining in their homes, in the heat/heart of Glendale. And you never count guys on a mission out.
Coyotes in 6