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NHL Playoff Preview

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Eastern Conference

Eastern Conference Quarter Finals

#1 Washington Capitals vs. #8 New York Rangers
Pick: Washington in 5
I see this as being a pretty predictable series; Washington has been playing very well since the trade deadline, and have found more balanced scoring, something they lacked the past few years.  They have new, young goaltending with Michal Neurvith and Semyon Varlamov.  I would expect to see Neuvy to start the series, but if he doesn’t play well don’t be surprised if Varlamov takes the starting job.  The Rangers have been battling to stay in the playoffs for quite a while and it took the last day of the regular season to make it.  The Carolina Hurricanes passed them for 8th place in the East with 1 game to go, but the Rangers won their final game against the Devils as Tampa Bay beat the Hurricanes to send New York to the post season; Carolina had the tiebreaker.

Series Schedule:

Wednesday, April 13 at Washington, 7:30 p.m. TSN, VERSUS (JIP)
Friday, April 15 at Washington, 7:30 p.m. TSN, VERSUS
Sunday, April 17 at New York, 3:00 p.m. NBC (HD), TSN
Wednesday, April 20 at New York, 7:00 p.m. TSN, VERSUS
*Saturday, April 23 at Washington, 3:00 p.m. TSN, NBC (HD)
*Monday, April 25 at New York, TBD TSN
*Wednesday, April 27 at Washington, TBD TSN

 

#2 Philadelphia Flyers vs. #7 Buffalo Sabres
Pick: Buffalo in 6
This series I can feel a big upset coming.  Philadelphia has been struggling for the past month or so, experiencing a lack of defense and shaky goaltending between Sergei Bobrovsky and Bryan Boucher.  It’s not certain which goalie will start the series or who will finish, but it is a big factor in determining Philadelphia’s fate this postseason.  Buffalo has been playing hot, they received a new owner just before the deadline and have been playing with more heart ever since.  They are streaking into the post season similar to Montreal last season, and we saw what happened there; they made it to the conference finals.  With strong goaltending and balanced scoring, Buffalo certainly has what it takes to win the series, and I think they will come at the Flyers too quick for them to react.

Series Schedule:

Thursday, April 14 at Philadelphia, 7:30 p.m. TSN, VERSUS-JIP
Saturday, April 16 at Philadelphia, 5:00 p.m. TSN
Monday, April 18 at Buffalo, 7:00 p.m. TSN, VERSUS
Wednesday, April 20 at Buffalo, 7:30 p.m. TSN, VERSUS
*Friday, April 22 at Philadelphia, 7:30 p.m. TSN, VERSUS (JIP)
*Sunday, April 24 at Buffalo, 3:00 p.m. NBC (HD), TSN
*Tuesday, April 26 at Philadelphia, TBD TSN

 

#3 Boston vs #6 Montreal
Pick: Boston in 7
I feel like this is the most highly anticipated playoff series at least in the first round; possibly all playoffs.  There is no doubt about it, there is plenty of bad blood between these 2 clubs.  I see both teams throwing heavy hits at each other, giving it their all every shift they take, and there will be plenty of goals on both sides as well.  With the tough defense that Boston has, I see them outlasting Montreal, but it will take 7 games to do so.

Series Schedule:

Thursday, April 14 at Boston, 7:00 p.m. CBC (HD), RDS, VERSUS
Saturday, April 16 at Boston, 7:00 p.m. CBC (HD), RDS, VERSUS
Monday, April 18 at Montreal, 7:30 p.m. CBC (HD), RDS
Thursday, April 21 at Montreal, 7:00 p.m. CBC (HD), RDS, VERSUS
*Saturday, April 23 at Boston, 7:00 p.m. CBC (HD), RDS, VERSUS
*Tuesday, April 26 at Montreal, TBD CBC (HD), RDS
*Wednesday, April 27 at Boston, TBD CBC (HD), RDS

 

#4 Pittsburgh Penguins vs #5 Tampa Bay Lightning
Pick: Pittsburgh in 6
This is a battle between 2 teams that were both strong contenders in the Atlantic and Southwest divisions.  Both teams have proved that they have the firepower, defense, and goaltending to go deep in the playoffs.  I feel this will be a back and forth series with low scoring games.  This is one of the series that will probably go 2-2 in the first 4, and the winner of game 5 will be the winner of the series.  I see that team being the Pittsburgh Penguins, with or without Sydney Crosby.

Series Schedule:

Wednesday, April 13 at Pittsburgh, 7:00 p.m. CBC (HD)
Friday, April 15 at Pittsburgh, 7:00 p.m. CBC (HD)
Monday, April 18 at Tampa Bay, 7:30 p.m. CBC (HD), VERSUS (JIP)
Wednesday, April 20 at Tampa Bay, 7:30 p.m. CBC (HD)
*Saturday, April 23 at Pittsburgh, TBD CBC (HD), VERSUS (JIP)
*Monday, April 25 at Tampa Bay, TBD CBC (HD)
*Wednesday, April 27 at Pittsburgh, TBD CBC (HD)

 

Eastern Conference Semifinals (Predictions)

#1 Washington Capitals vs. #7 Buffalo Sabres
Pick: Washington in 5
This matchup will be a goaltender battle.  Washington has more offensive weapons, but both teams have the goal-tending that has proven on more than one occasion that they can some incredible saves.  Washington will more than likely have veteran defenseman Dennis Wideman back for this series.  Wideman  will help improve the Washington defense, which will only complement the goal-tending.  If they can keep Buffalo to below 2 goals per game, they should be able to take this series.

#3 Boston Bruins vs. #4 Pittsburgh Penguins
Pick: Pittsburgh in 6
This series will be between the Pittsburgh Penguins team, that will probably have Sydney Crosby back by the start of the series, and the beat up Boston Bruins team.  Pittsburgh has more offensive firepower, but Boston has the stronger defensive core, if they all can remain healthy after their series with Montreal.  With Pittsburgh looking not too depleated from their series with Tampa Bay, they will be the healthier and thus the winner of this series.

 

Eastern Conference Finals (Prediction)

#1 Washington Capitals vs. #4 Pittsburgh Penguins
Pick: Washington in 6
Winter Classic rematch!  Both teams have battled through the season at one point without their stars.  The Washington Capitals have proved in the Winter Classic that they can deliver in a big game against the Penguins, and know what happened in 2009, when the Penguins defeated the Capitals in 7 games.  It will be the top thing on the players mind.  With Veteran leadership coming from Jason Arnott and Dennis Wideman, and deep playoff experience of Michal Neurvith (back to back championships in AHL with Hershey) who by the way hasn’t lost a playoff series in his professional career.  The Capitals are able to prevent a repeat of the series in 2009 and remain focused, with their eyes on the prize.

 

Western Conference

Western Conference Quarterfinals

#1 Vancouver Canucks vs. #8 Chicago Blackhawks
Pick: Vancouver in 4
This is the only playoff series sweep I have in the whole postseason this time around.  Vancouver has proven all they had to in the regular season, but all those wins mean nothing but home ice advantage as far as they make it.  I expect them to be focused and sweep Chicago.  The Blackhawks made the playoffs because the Dallas Stars lost their last game after Chicago could not deliver a win against Detroit at home to solidify their spot, reguardless of what Dallas did.  They had a great run last year, but it’s Vancouver’s year for the west.

Series Schedule:

Wednesday, April 13 at Vancouver, 10:00 p.m. CBC (HD), VERSUS
Friday, April 15 at Vancouver, 10:00 p.m. CBC (HD), VERSUS
Sunday, April 17 at Chicago, 8:00 p.m. CBC (HD), VERSUS
Tuesday, April 19 at Chicago, 8:00 p.m. CBC (HD), VERSUS
*Thursday, April 21 at Vancouver, 10:00 p.m. CBC (HD), VERSUS
*Sunday, April 24 at Chicago, 7:30 p.m. CBC (HD)
*Tuesday, April 26 at Vancouver, TBD CBC (HD)

 

#2 San Jose Sharks vs. #7 LA Kings
Pick: San Jose in 5
San Jose is a team that always seems to play well in the regular season and blow up in the postseason.  I see them keeping focus and possibly going deep in the playoffs.  This series could be a quick one with the LA Kings struggling to stay above the .500 mark in their final 10 games and San Jose finishing out strong with an incredible 7-2-1 in their final 10.

Series Schedule:

Thursday, April 14 at San Jose, 10:00 p.m. TSN, VERSUS
Saturday, April 16 at San Jose, 10:00 p.m. TSN, VERSUS
Tuesday, April 19 at Los Angeles, 10:30 p.m. TSN, VERSUS
Thursday, April 21 at Los Angeles, 10:30 p.m. TSN
*Saturday, April 23 at San Jose, 10:30 p.m. TSN, VERSUS
*Monday, April 25 at Los Angeles, TBD TSN
*Wednesday, April 27 at San Jose, TBD

 

#3 Detroit Red Wings vs. #6 Phoenix Coyotes
Pick: Phoenix in 7
Detroit is a team that always seems to find a way to make the playoffs.  They have proven that they have what it takes to win a cup.  Phoenix is a team that has been laughed at for their lack of attendance and poor preformance on the ice in past seasons, but they have dramatically turned it around this season.  They made some big moves at the deadline and they are ready to pursue the Stanley Cup.  Both teams finished their final 10 games around the .500 mark, but I see Detroit coming out cocky and Phoenix playing with the determination to steal this series in 7 games.

Series Schedule:

Wednesday, April 13 at Detroit, 7:00 p.m. CBC (HD), VERSUS
Saturday, April 16 at Detroit, 1:00 p.m. NBC (HD), CBC (HD)
Monday, April 18 at Phoenix, 10:30 p.m. CBC (HD), VERSUS
Wednesday, April 20 at Phoenix, 10:30 p.m. CBC (HD), VERSUS
*Friday, April 22 at Detroit, 7:00 p.m. CBC (HD), VERSUS
*Sunday, April 24 at Phoenix, TBD CBC (HD)
*Wednesday, April 27 at Detroit, TBD CBC (HD)

 

#4 Anaheim Ducks vs. #5 Nashville Predators
Pick: Anaheim in 7
Both teams (and Phoenix) finished the regular season with the same amount of points, but were seeded based on their number of wins, not including wins in the shootout.  Both teams have the talent to beat the other, both teams have been playing really well.  I see Anaheim taking this series, but it will take 7 games to do so.

Series Schedule:

Wednesday, April 13 at Anaheim, 10:30 p.m. TSN
Friday, April 15 at Anaheim, 10:30 p.m. TSN
Sunday, April 17 at Nashville, TBD TSN
Wednesday, April 20 at Nashville, TBD TSN
*Friday, April 22 at Anaheim, 10:00 p.m. TSN
*Sunday, April 24 at Nashville, TBD TSN
*Tuesday, April 26 at Anaheim, TBD TSN

 

 

Western Conference Semi Finals

#1 Vancouver Canucks vs. #6 Phoenix Coyotes
Pick: Vancouver in 6
This series will be a little more challenging for the Canucks.  They will be coming into the series with having a week long break, and thus may lose focus. Phoenix will be riding momentum off a huge series win against Detroit, and Vancouver could make the same mistake as Detroit by underestimating Phoenix.  I see Vancouver correcting their mistakes and recovering to win this series in 6 games.

#2 San Jose Sharks vs. #4 Anaheim Ducks
Pick: Anaheim in 7
I think San Jose will have too much confidence after their series against the LA Kings and come out underestimating the Ducks.  They will also have about a week off until this series starts, causing them to lose focus.  I think Anaheim will take an early series lead, while the San Jose Sharks battle back. It will be too little too late and Anaheim wins in 7 games.

 

Western Conference Finals

#1 Vancouver Canucks vs. #4 Anaheim Ducks
Pick: Vancouver in 6
Vancouver has come so far throughout the whole season and postseason, and now is no time to reflect back on it.  Anaheim will be fresh and riding some momentum to potentially take game 1, but Vancouver will battle back. With good goaltending from Roberto Luongo, I think that they will take the series and punch their ticket for the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals.

 

Stanley Cup Finals

#1 Washington Capitals vs. #1 Vancouver Canucks
Pick: Washington in 7
Both teams have been through their battles and have had ups and downs all season.  Both teams have stellar goaltending, and great defense, but I would give Washington a slight edge in the offensive touch.  One flaw in the Vancouver Canucks this season could be that they haven’t faced adversity.  The Washington Capitals have faced it for the first time in the postseason the past 2 years and have now overcome this challenge in the regular season.  They know what they have to do.  I think Vancouver takes a 2-0 series lead and the Capitals battle back and win the Stanley Cup in 7 games.

 

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