Posted on: January 26, 2012 11:00 pm
Edited on: January 31, 2012 2:07 am

Down the Stretch They Come...NHL 2012

Post All-Star predictions for the 2011-2012 NHL season:


1. Rangers (109)
2. Penguins (104)
3. Flyers (102)
4. Devils (91)
5. Islanders (74)


1. Bruins (110)
2. Maple Leafs (95)
3. Senators (92)
4. Sabres (80)
5. Canadiens (75)


1. Capitals (99)
2. Panthers (90)
3. Lightning (85)
4. Jets (82)
5. Hurricanes (70)

Eastern Conference Seeds

1. Bruins
2. Rangers
3. Capitals
4. Penguins
5. Flyers
6. Maple Leafs
7. Senators
8. Devils

9. Panthers
10. Lightning
11. Jets
12. Sabres
13. Canadiens
14. Islanders
15. Hurricanes


1. Red Wings (108)
2. Blackhawks (104)
3. Predators (101)
4. Blues (97)
5. Blue Jackets (60)


1. Canucks (104)
2. Flames (89)
3. Avalanche (85)
4. Wild (83)
5. Oilers (71)


1. Kings (101)
2. Sharks (99)
3. Ducks (90)
4. Stars (87)
5. Coyotes (78)

Western Conference Seeds

1. Red Wings
2. Canucks
3. Kings
4. Blackhawks
5. Predators
6. Sharks
7. Blues
8. Ducks

9. Flames
10. Stars
11. Avalanche
12. Wild
13. Coyotes
14. Oilers
15. Blue Jackets


Head Pick

Eastern Conference Finals: Penguins over Bruins (6)
Western Conference Finals: Red Wings over Canucks (6)
Stanley Cup Finals: Red Wings over Penguins (6) -- MVP: Pavel Datsyuk

Heart Pick

Eastern Conference Finals: Bruins over Rangers (7)
Western Conference Finals: Red Wings over Blackhawks (5)
Stanley Cup Finals: Red Wings over Bruins (7) -- MVP: Pavel Datsyuk

Gut Pick

Eastern Conference Finals: Rangers over Penguins (6)
Western Conference Finals: Kings over Blackhawks (5)
Stanley Cup Finals: Rangers over Kings (5) -- MVP: Henrik Lundqvist

Funny Bone Pick

Eastern Conference Finals: Maple Leafs over Senators (7)
Western Conference Finals: Sharks over Blues (5)
Stanley Cup Finals: Maple Leafs over Sharks (6) -- MVP: Phil Kessel


Hart Nominees (*Winner):

Pavel Datsyuk
Claude Giroux
*Evgeni Malkin

Vezina Nominees (*Winner):

Jimmy Howard
*Henrik Lundqvist
Jonathan Quick

Norris Nominees (*Winner):

Zdeno Chara
Ryan Suter
*Shea Weber

Calder Nominees (*Winner):

*Adam Henrique
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
Matt Read

Selke Nominees (*Winner):

*Patrice Bergeron
Pavel Datsyuk
Ryan O'Reilly

Jack Adams Nominees (*Winner):

*Ken Hitchock (STL)
Claude Julien (BOS)
Paul MacLean (OTT)

Art Ross (1-5):

1. Evgeni Malkin (105)
2. Claude Giroux (97)
3. Pavel Datsyuk (94)
4. Henrik Sedin (92)
5. Steven Stamkos (90)

Maurice Richard (1-5):

1. Steven Stamkos (53)
2. Evgeni Malkin (48)
3. Marian Gaborik (46)
4. Phil Kessel (42)
5. James Neal (40)

Posted on: January 17, 2012 12:48 am
Edited on: February 1, 2012 9:17 am

NFL Playoffs 2012 Predictions

I made these picks prior to each round but didn't have a chance to put them up on here. I will continue to make edits until the playoffs are over.

AFC Wild Card Round

6. Bengals 24, 3. Texans 20

5. Steelers 28, 4. Broncos 13

NFC Wild Card Round

3. Saints 38, 6. Lions 35

4. Giants 27, 5. Falcons 17


AFC Divisional Round

1. Patriots 31, 4. Broncos 23

2. Ravens 27, 3. Texans 10

NFC Divisional Round

4. Giants 33, 1. Packers 31

3. Saints 27, 2. 49ers 21



AFC Championship Game

1. Patriots 34, 2. Ravens 20

NFC Championship Game

4. Giants 27, 2. 49ers 23



Super Bowl

AFC-1. Patriots 29
NFC-4. Giants 26
MVP: Tom Brady
Category: NFL
Posted on: October 1, 2011 11:41 pm

NHL Regular Season 2011-12 Predictions

Okay, the time has come to throw some predictions out there for the upcoming hockey season. I'm going to post the division standings, playoff seedings, the Conference Finals particapents, and the Stanley Cup winner. I'll also throw out my thoughts for the major award winners. Here's what my brain is telling me:


1. Pittsburgh Penguins (105)
2. New York Rangers (99)
3. Philadelphia Flyers (94)
4. New Jersey Devils (90)
5. New York Islanders (80)


1. Buffalo Sabres (101)
2. Boston Bruins (97)
3. Montreal Canadiens (89)
4. Toronto Maple Leafs (87)
5. Ottawa Senators (73)


1. Washington Capitals (109)
2. Tampa Bay Lightning (95)
3. Carolina Hurricanes (88)
4. Florida Panthers (84)
5. Winnipeg Jets (79)

Eastern Conference Seeds

1. Washington Capitals
2. Pittsburgh Penguins
3. Buffalo Sabres
4. New York Rangers
5. Boston Bruins
6. Tampa Bay Lightning
7. Philadelphia Flyers
8. New Jersey Devils

9. Montreal Canadiens
10. Carolina Hurricanes
11. Toronto Maple Leafs
12. Florida Panthers
13. New York Islanders
14. Winnipeg Jets
15. Ottawa Senators


1. Detroit Red Wings (105)
2. Chicago Blackhawks (100)
3. Nashville Predators (96)
4. Columbus Blue Jackets (90)
5. St. Louis Blues (87)


1. Vancouver Canucks (102)
2. Minnesota Wild (88)
3. Calgary Flames (83)
4. Edmonton Oilers (76)
5. Colorado Avalanche (71)


1. Los Angeles Kings (107)
2. San Jose Sharks (99)
3. Anaheim Ducks (90)
4. Phoenix Coyotes (84)
5. Dallas Stars (78)

Western Conference Seeds

1. Los Angeles Kings
2. Detroit Red Wings
3. Vancouver Canucks
4. Chicago Blackhawks
5. San Jose Sharks
6. Nashville Predators
7. Columbus Blue Jackets
8. Anaheim Ducks

9. Minnesota Wild
10. St. Louis Blues
11. Phoenix Coyotes
12. Calgary Flames
13. Dallas Stars
14. Edmonton Oilers
15. Colorado Avalanche

At this point I'm going to put three predictions down as far as the Conference Finals, Stanley Cup Finals, and the eventual winner: Head pick, heart pick, and gut pick - they are what they sound like (figuratively, not literally).

Head pick:

ECF's: Penguins, Bruins. WCF's: Kings, Blackhawks. SCF's: Penguins, Kings. Winner: Penguins. Conn Smythe: Sidney Crosby.

Heart pick:

ECF's: Penguins, Rangers. WCF's: Red Wings, Blackhawks. SCF's: Penguins, Red Wings. Winner: Red Wings. Conn Smythe: Pavel Datsyuk.

Gut pick:

ECF's: Capitals, Sabres. WCF's: Kings, Sharks. SCF's: Capitals, Kings. Winner: Kings. Conn Smythe: Jonathan Quick.

Regular Season Award Winners:

Evgeni Malkin (PIT)
Vezina: Henrik Lundqvist (NYR)
Norris: Shea Weber (NSH)
Calder: Nino Niederreiter (NYI)
Selke: Pavel Datsyuk (DET)
Adams: Lindy Ruff (BUF)
Lindsay: Alex Ovechkin (WSH)
Richard: Alex Ovechkin (WSH)
Art Ross: Evgeni Malkin (PIT)
Jennings: Henrik Lundqvist (NYR)

Category: NHL
Posted on: September 29, 2011 5:33 pm
Edited on: September 29, 2011 9:43 pm

MLB Playoffs 2011 Predictions

These are just my predictions for what will happen in this year's MLB playoffs. If last night is any indication of how the playoffs will unfold we are in for a heck of a ride. So, without further ado, here's what I think will happen:


Tigers 3, Yankees 2
Rays 3, Rangers 1


Phillies 3, Cardinals 2
Brewers 3, Diamondbacks 1


Tigers 4, Rays 2 - Alex Avila MVP


Phillies 4, Brewers 3 - Cole Hamels MVP


Phillies 4, Tigers 2 - Cliff Lee MVP

The Tigers-Yankees series will be close and I think higher scoring than some people think. If it goes 5, three of those games will be played in Yankee Stadium. Leyland has said they'll go with a 4 man rotation so JV can pitch game 5 if necessary. I'm not sure that's the best strategy. JV gets a lot of fly ball outs and hasn't pitched particularly well against the Yankees this season. Fister would do better in New York because he gets a lot of ground ball outs and hardly gives up any homer runs. Verlander does. Still, I like the Tigers to rake against the Yankees starting pitching. They've even hit CC fairly well (Cabby 9-16 career) and I think they have a chance of winning any game against the Yankees.

I'm taking the Rays over the Rangers because they are riding high right now, but mostly because pitching. The Rangers team ERA at home isn't very good (4.37) but is excellent on the road (3.19). The Rays team ERA is excellent at home (3.16) and fairly good on the road (4.04) - many of those games were in Yankee Stadium and Fenway. People like to bash the Rays lineup and how they can't score, but they have scored the 2nd most runs in the AL on the road. They can put up enough runs to keep pace with one of the best offenses in the league and their rotation will keep them in most games.

The Cardinals have played the Phillies tough this year and have gone 6-3 against the best team in baseball. I think the Cardinals rotation is fairly underrated. Carpenter, Garcia, and Lohse have all pitched very well against the Phillies this season. They have the best offense in the NL as well. I don't think it's a stretch to think they could beat the Phillies because they match up very well against them. The difference, to me, is the bullpen. I trust the Phillies pen over the Cardinals' in this series and I think they'll eventually put up more runs at the end of the day. I'm not expecting a lot of runs in this series and if it goes 5 I'd trust Cliff Lee to have a great performance at home. It's really hard for me to pick against the Phillies rotation as a whole even though it's tempting to take the Cards in this series.

The Diamondbacks were a nice story this year, but the Brewers are just a better team and they have home field advantage. Their home record speaks for itself. Offense is essentially a wash, but the Brewers have a better team ERA both at home and on the road as well as one of the best closers in the game. I think the games will be relatively close but I think Milwaukee's offense will eventually wear Arizona's pitching down and put up a lot of runs. You can only keep Fielder and Braun down for so long. Eventually they will rake against anyone....well almost anyone (keep reading).

I'm taking the Tigers over the Rays because the Tigers lineup is better, their rotation and bullpen has had success against them this season, and they took 6 of 7 against the Rays this season - the only loss coming in extra innings. I do like the Rays to take a couple games, though. JV's worst start this year was against the Rays in Comerica - 6 ER in 6 IP and if he starts game 1 or game 2 it will be in Detroit. I already pointed out the Rays can score as well as anyone on the road, so beating the Tigers in Comerica and ultimately taking a couple games in that series wouldn't be a surprise at all. I'd just take the Tigers in a 7 game series against the Rays and think their offense will eventually put a lot of crooked numbers up on the scoreboard. Alex Avila has also hit Rays pitching really well this season and I think he'd have a monster ALCS should this match up occur.

The Phillies-Brewers series, should it happen, will likely be the best of the playoffs. I'd take the Brewers lineup over the Phillies' and I'd take the Phillies rotation over the Brewers'. Milwaukee crushed Halladay in one of his starts this year (6 ER in 6.1 IP in a 9-0 win in Philadelphia) but the rest of the games have been fairly close. The season series was kind of backwards from what you'd think it would be. The Brewers took 2 of 3 in Philadelphia and the Phillies took 3 of 4 in Milwaukee. This has the potential to be a back and forth, very exciting series. Gallardo and Wolf have pitched very well against the Phillies this year (I don't think Greinke faced them at all) and Halladay (aside from that one start), Lee, and Hamels have all pitched well against the Brewers. But, again, whoever pitches for the Phillies in game 7, should it get that far, will have a decided advantage over anyone the Brewers throw out there. All three guys in the Phillies rotation are decidedly ground ball pitchers. That should keep the power bats of Braun, Fielder, and co. at bay for much of that series. They should win but I think it would be very close. Cole Hamels has pitched one game against Milwaukee this year and completed the game giving up 2 ER. That game was in Milwaukee. You could choose any of the three starters, but I'm going with Hamels.

Should the Phillies and Tigers collide in the World Series this year it would definitely be great drama for any baseball fan. Halladay VS. Verlander. Lee VS. Fister. Hamels VS. ....umm, Scherzer? - That alone would decide the series. Max has been incredibly inconsistent this year and is definitely your X-Factor for this series. I'd trust him against the Yankees 3rd starter (whomever that may be), but not against a guy like Hamels. He can turn it on and pitch just about as well as anyone when he has his good stuff (aka no straight fastball that flattens out when it crosses the plate), but it's just as likely that he serves up meatballs and gets knocked out in the 3rd inning. Porcello is the same way if Leyland decides to go that route. Halladay VS. Verlander and Lee VS. Fister are tossups IMO. Hamels VS. Scherzer/Porcello is a decided advantage for the Phillies. At the end of the day the Phillies are the best team in baseball. Even though they may have gotten the worst draw possible in terms of who they'll play in the ALDS and who the'll likely play in the NLCS, they should and will win the WS this year. Cliff Lee will have another dominant playoffs and save his best for last in the WS. He wins MVP and the Phillies win the thing at home in Philadelphia.

Well that's it. Don't kill me if I didn't pick your team or perhaps overlooked something in regards to match ups and potential match ups. This is just the way I see it. Whatever happens I'm just looking forward to some postseason baseball. Good luck to everyone and may the best team win.
Category: MLB
Posted on: September 5, 2011 10:52 am

NFL Regular Season 2011 Predictions

I want to point out that I am not a wealth of football knowledge, so this is entirely for fun. I don't need to hear how my predictions don't make sense or how I'm overvaluing a certain team. Go for it if you wish but it won't matter to me. I also don't care if you don't care what I think because, again, this is just for fun. So...here's what I think:

NFC East

1. Dallas Cowboys (11-5)
2. Philadelphia Eagles (10-6)
3. New York Giants (8-8)
4. Washington Redskins (5-11)

NFC West

1. St. Louis Rams (9-7)
2. Arizona Cardinals (7-9)
3. San Francisco 49ers (5-11)
4. Seattle Seahawks (4-12)

NFC North

1. Green Bay Packers (13-3)
2. Detroit Lions (9-7)
3. Minnesota Vikings (6-10)
4. Chicago Bears (5-11)

NFC South

1. New Orleans Saints (12-4)
2. Atlanta Falcons (10-6)
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-8)
4. Carolina Panthers (6-10)

AFC East

1. New England Patriots (13-3)
2. New York Jets (11-5)
3. Buffalo Bills (5-11)
4. Miami Dolphins (3-13)

AFC West

1. San Diego Chargers (11-5)
2. Denver Broncos (9-7)
3. Oakland Raiders (7-9)
4. Kansas City Chiefs (6-10)

AFC North

1. Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4)
2. Baltimore Ravens (11-5)
3. Cleveland Browns (7-9)
4. Cincinnati Bengals (5-11)

AFC South

1. Indianapolis Colts (9-7)
2. Houston Texans (8-8)
3. Tennessee Titans (7-9)
4. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-12)

NFC Seeds

1. Green Bay Packers
2. New Orleans Saints
3. Dallas Cowboys
4. St. Louis Rams
5. Philadelphia Eagles
6. Atlanta Falcons

AFC Seeds

1. New England Patriots
2. Pittsburgh Steelers
3. San Diego Chargers
4. Inianapolis Colts
5. New York Jets
6. Baltimore Ravens

NFC Championship Game

Green Bay Packers Vs. New Orleans Saints

AFC Championship Game

New England Patriots Vs. San Diego Chargers

Super Bowl

Green Bay Packers Vs. New England Patriots


Green Bay Packers

NFL MVP: Tom Brady
Offensive ROY: Julio Jones
Defensive ROY: Von Miller
Coach of the Year: Jason Garrett

Category: NFL
Posted on: April 11, 2011 10:27 am

NHL Playoffs 2011 Full

Alright, I can't help myself. I wasn't going to predict all four rounds ahead of time but I feel the need to do it anyway. Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe winners on the way.


1. Washington Capitals
8. New York Rangers

Capitals win 4-2

2. Philadelphia Flyers
7. Buffalo Sabres

Flyers win 4-1

3. Boston Bruins
6. Montreal Canadiens

Canadiens win 4-3

4. Pittsburgh Penguins
5. Tampa Bay Lightning

Penguins win 4-2


1. Vancouver Canucks
8. Chicago Blackhawks

Canucks win 4-2

2. San Jose Sharks
7. Los Angeles Kings

Sharks win 4-0

3. Detroit Red Wings
6. Phoenix Coyotes

Red Wings win 4-3

4. Anaheim Ducks
5. Nashville Predators

Predators win 4-2


1. Washington Capitals
6. Montreal Canadiens

Capitals win 4-1

2. Philadelphia Flyers
4. Pittsburgh Penguins

Penguins win 4-3


1. Vancouver Canucks
5. Nashville Predators

Canucks win 4-0

2. San Jose Sharks
3. Detroit Red Wings

Sharks win 4-2


1. Washington Capitals
4. Pittsburgh Penguins

Capitals win 4-3


1. Vancouver Canucks
2. San Jose Sharks

Sharks win 4-2


E1. Washington Capitals
W2. San Jose Sharks

Capitals win 4-1

Conn Smythe Winner: Alex Ovechkin (11G, 16A, 27P)
Category: NHL
Posted on: April 10, 2011 11:52 pm

NHL Playoffs 2011 First Round

The NHL playoffs are finally set in both conferences. Late pushes from the Canes and Stars fell short in their final games as they both failed to win when controlling their own fate. The defending champs are in as the 8th seed in the West and will face the Canucks (again). The Vancouer-Chicago are one of many intriguing matchups in round one. Boston-Montreal and Washington-New York Rangers also have potential for being amazing series. So let's jump into some predictions. I'm going to predict all four rounds and a Conn Smythe winner when the time comes. For now, I'll just be doing the first round. I'll predict the second round after the first is finished and so on. Let it be known that I own a crystal ball and have ESP, so all credit for accuracy should definitely not go to my hockey knowledge or series-picking prowess. Anyway, here we go.


1. Washington Capitals VS. 8. New York Rangers

The Capitals may be more of a complete team this season than they've ever been since the lockout. The offensive numbers are down across the board for superstar Alex Ovechkin, as well as Nicklas Backstrom, Alexander Semin, and Mike Green. But the numbers for team defense have significantly improved from last season. The Caps are 4th in the league in goals against at 2.33 GA/G this season, a noteworthy improvement over finishing in the middle of the pack last season at 2.77 GA/G. And after finishing 25th in the league in PK last season at 78.8%, they are now 2nd at 85.6% this year. On top of that, goaltending hasn't really been an issue for them this time around. All three of the Caps' goalies have shown the ability to hold them in games and have posted very solid numbers this year. The Rangers, on the other hand, are essentially the same team they've always been. Great goaltending, balanced scoring, top 10 defense (top 5 this year). Losing Callahan right before the start of the postseason hurts, but I still think they have the tools to possibly cause some problems for the Caps. Lundqvist has had a Vezina-worthy season and I don't expect him to show any signs of slowing down just because the second season starts on Wednesday. He could easily steal a game or two by himself in this series. The Rangers have also taken 3 of 4 from the Caps this season, including two blowouts (6-0 and 7-0).

This series will be closer than many people think given how these teams match up against each other. But I think the Caps will prevail in the end.

Capitals win 4-2

2. Philadelphia Flyers VS. 7. Buffalo Sabres

The Flyers were coasting through the first half plus of the season, posting a 33-12-5 record prior to the All-Star break. Since then, they've gone just 14-11-7. Many people like to point to just one thing that caused the second half slide, some blaming goaltending, some the loss of Pronger, some the inabiltiy to put the puck in the net. But, really, there was no one thing that caused the Flyers to barely hold onto the 2nd seed over the Penguins. Some nights it was goaltending struggles, some nights they lost 1-0. Some nights it was the powerplay going 0-7, some nights it was the PK allowing 3 or 4 to hit the twine. Consistency in all facets of the game just wasn't there for the Flyers in the second half. That said, they may have gotten the best draw they could hope for in the Eastern Conference. The Sabres are not the top 5 defensive squad they were last year, and much of that can be attributed to the dropoff Ryan Miller had from his Vezina Trophy winning season last year. I don't see much from this Sabres team. They don't hit and they aren't as sound defensively as they've been in previous years. And I haven't even mentioned that Miller may not even be completely healthy. He may have played the last couple games, but who knows if he's still aching from his "upper body" injury or not.

I don't think this series will be very close even with the Flyers late season struggles and the even record the teams have against one another. The Fly Guys return to the second round in consecutive years.

Flyers win 4-1

3. Boston Bruins VS. 6. Montreal Canadiens

Here it is. This is by far my most anticipated matchup of any in the first round. Every game this year was an ugly, grinding affair with huge (and oft-referred to illegal) hits from both sides. Both teams have elite goaltending and a solid defensive core. On top of that, they're both Original Six franchises. It doesn't get much better than that. This series could easily go the distance and I, for one, am hoping that it does. The Bruins are a very similar team to the ones they've brought into the postseason the last few years, except this season they can actually score. They are a top 5 offensive team after being dead last in the league last season. 2nd in the league in defense and 5th in the league in offense really should give them a clear edge in this one, but I'm not sure it matters given the team they're playing. The Habs took 4 of 6 from the B's this season, including all three at the Bell Centre. Carey Price is having a stellar season after playing behind Halak in the playoffs last year. He could easily be this years Halak with the way he's playing.

This series will go the distance. It's just gonna happen. It'll be a very entertaining, tight series and it could easily go either way. I have the Habs going through in game 7 in Bean Town.

Canadiens win 4-3

4. Pittsburgh Penguins VS. 5. Tampa Bay Lightning

To most, this series will be largely contingent upon whether or not Crosby plays. Sid the Kid has missed half the season and has hardly practiced since his concussion. I'm going to go ahead and say that he'll play in this series, even if it's not game 1. I'm not sure it matters, though. The Pens have played inspired hockey even without their two superstars (Crosby and Malkin). Fleury has been outstanding and is another guy who could be thrown into the Vezina mix this year. The rest of the guys, namely Staal and Kunitz, really stepped up in the second half in the absence of Sid and Geno. James Neal and Alexei Kovalev have pretty much been duds for Pittsburgh since they came over prior to the trade deadline, but still have the ability to shine in the playoffs. Tampa Bay got off to a fast start this year...or should I say, Stamkos got off to a fast start this year. Once Stamkos fell back to earth, the Lightning fell behind the Capitals for first in the Southeast. The Lightning were a really good offensive team this year with St. Louis and Stamkos leading the way, but defensively they are awful. They've allowed 6+ goals in a game 10 times this season. I'm not sure if they have what it takes to make noise in the playoffs, especially against a playoff-savvy team in the Penguins.

The Pens have superior defense, goaltending, coaching, and are two years removed from a championship. I have them taking this series at the end of the day, with or without the best player in the world.

Penguins win 4-2


1. Vancouver Canucks VS. 8. Chicago Blackhawks

Vancouver is first in offense, first in defense, first in PP%, third in PK%, and have 117 points after running away with the division, the conference, and the President's Trophy. The Sedin Twins have been on fire all season and Kesler and Luongo are having career years. This team is absolutely loaded. But, they drew the defending champs in round one; a team that beat them in the Conference Semis the last two years. A lot of people, including some of Blackhawk Nation, are downplaying the significance of the last two playoff seasons against Vancouver, explaining that both teams are significantly different this year. I'm not too sold on that idea. I think if Chicago steals one of the first two games in Vancouver there will be a lot of chatter about the Hawks having the Canucks' number, especially from those in Western Canada. Obviously Chicago lost many of the players who brought Chicago its first Stanley Cup in 49 years, but they are still a formidable team capable of giving anybody trouble (including the best team in the league). Toews has carried the Hawks this year with 76 points, Duncan Keith is still a top 10 defenseman, and Hossa, Kane, and Sharp can all put the puck in the net when their team needs a goal. Not to mention Corey Crawford is one of many rookies who could be considered for the Calder this year. I wouldn't necessarily count this team out in this series.

This looks like a new year for the Canucks. They will be heavy favorites going in despite the Hawks' recent success against them. I see the third time being the charm for Vancouver.

Canucks win 4-2

2. San Jose Sharks VS. 7. Los Angeles Kings

San Jose has been great in the second half, posting a 23-6-3 record since the All-Star Break. I didn't see them winning the division before the season began, but I was proven wrong by a team with more character than I gave them credit for. The Sharks sport 7 players with 50 points or more and Niemi has been a more than capable replacement for Nabokov. I can see this team going far this year. The Kings were my original pick to take the competetive Pacific Division this year, but a lackluster stretch from the end of December to the middle of January quickly defused those aspirations. On top of that, Justin Williams is day-to-day as of right now and Anze Kopitar is out until fall. They possibly could have caused some trouble for a team this year, but it would most likely take a monumental effort from Jonathan Quick for them to take this series. He's had an outstanding season, but he'll have to be Patrick Roy circa '93 for them to have a chance in my opinion. I like Jack Johnson and Drew Doughty, but after that the Kings' defense drops off a bit.

I think the Sharks have a clear edge in this series even though they split the season series this year. This may be a cake-walk given the Kings injuries and the Sharks second half surge.

Sharks win 4-0

3. Detroit Red Wings VS. 6. Phoenix Coyotes

The Red Wings have been the most bi-polar team this season by far. After starting 17-4-3, they've essentially been a .500 club (30-21-7 since)...okay slightly over .500. But, the point remains. The Wings would win 3, lose 4, win 5, lose 3, and so on. It went on that way since the beginning of December. They never really got anything going all year in terms of consistency. This is mainly due to the atrocious defense they played all year long. Last season the Wings were 7th in team defense, but this year they're 23rd at 2.89 GA/G. The Wings also battled injuries all year much like they did last season. Datsyuk has missed 27 games, Cleary 15, Rafalski 20, Stuart 16, Modano 43, Filpulla 12, Holmstrom 10, Franzen 7, and Kronwall and Zetterberg are day-to-day right now. This team is beat up along with being an inconsistent squad, and they're playing the same team they beat in seven games last year. Phoenix surprised a few people, including me, by duplicating the regular season success they enjoyed last season. They are almost exactly the same team as they were last year. Score by committee, not a superstar in the bunch (save for maybe Yandle), great goaltending. If Bryzgalov has a monster series, it could be a long series for the Wings. Detroit has been stymied by good goaltending a few times this season, most notably Jonathan Quick's 51 save shutout in December and Cam Ward's 42 save shutout last week. It's strange to see the 2nd best offense in the league get frustrated by a netminder like that twice in a season, but Bryzgalov is definitely capable of duplicating what Quick and Ward did in this series.

The rematch of last year's 4/5 first round matchup may produce a different winner this time, but I think the end result will be the same. Jimmy Howard is the Wild card in this series. He just has to play adequate and the Wings will win.

Red Wings win 4-3

4. Anaheim Ducks VS. 5. Nashville Predators

The Ducks may have the best line in hockey. Bobby Ryan, Ryan Getzlaf, and Hart-favorte Corey Perry have been sensational this year. Selanne is hardly playing like a 40-year-old and Visnovsky is one of the best defenseman in hockey, leading all defenseman in points. Anaheim has a lot of pieces. Where I'm not sold is secondary scoring and defense. Depth is a problem for this team. There is a signifcant drop off from line 1 to line 2 and an even bigger drop from line 2 to line 3. Same goes for the defense. After Lydman and Visnovsky, there isn't a whole lot to be proud of on the back end. In goal, it seems every goalie the Ducks have has gotten injured. Even if healthy, I wouldn't hold my breath for any of those guys to steal a series. Nashville, much like Phoenix, did a lot with little for the second year in a row. Balanced scoring throughout the lineup has gotten them into the playoffs again - a place I didn't think they'd be this year. The Predators play one of the best defensive games in the league. Shea Weber and Ryan Suter are one of the best defensive pairings in the game and Pekka Rinne posted some of the best numbers of any goalie this year. 3rd in GA/G and 5th on the PK - this team will be tough to score against even for the high powered line in Anaheim.

This series will be close. I believe the Predators finally get it done in the playoffs, though, with Rinna leading the way to their first round two trip in franchise history.

Predators win 4-2

Well, that's it for the first round. The Second round matchups would be:

Eastern Conference
1. Washington Capitals VS. 6. Montreal Canadiens
2. Philadelphia Flyers VS. 4. Pittsburgh Penguins

Western Conference
1. Vancouver Canucks VS. 5. Nashville Predators
2. San Jose Sharks VS. 3. Detroit Red Wings
Category: NHL
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