by Patrick Hoffman on 04/16/10 at 12:34 PM ET
Shawn Lavigne, better known as “Big Country”, of Hockey This Morning on XM 204 Home Ice was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to discuss all things Stanley Cup Playoffs:
PH: Which teams do you think will surprise in the playoffs? Why?
SL: After game one this seems like a loaded question with all of the early upsets. I look at Buffalo although a 3 seed in the East as a very dangerous team. They have the league’s best goaltender in Ryan Miller and suddenly Thomas Vanek is scoring in bunches. They are a team without many stars but they have hard working depth players which can play any style of game you want.
In the Western Conference, I’m looking at the Canucks. Like Buffalo they have a strong goaltender in Roberto Luongo who has struggled in the latter stages of the season. He was brilliant in game one against the Kings. The Sedin twins have been tremendous all season long and I just love the depth of this team.
PH: Which teams do you think will disappoint in the playoffs? Why?
SL: This is the first year I did not pick the Sharks to make it to the Cup final in the past few years. I believe they are better than a year ago but until their big players like Thornton, Marleau, and Nabokov can overcome their playoff demons it could be another disappointing end to the season for their fans.
In the East, I look at the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins to struggle this postseason. This group has played so much hockey in the past 3 seasons with long playoff runs and this year with the olympics I just feel their time is up in the East. Marc-Andre Fleury has looked ordinary in recent weeks and I do question if they are hungry enough for another long run at the Cup.
PH: Which players do you think will step up their games in the postseason?
SL: Despite being yanked after only one game last season I look at a guy like Jose Theodore to really shine. He is motivated playing behind a strong team and he is coming off a tremendous season that has been overshadowed a little. I know the Capitals dropped the first game of the series to Montreal but I expect them and Theodore to bounce back strong.
In the Western Conference, I think Patrick Sharp of the Blackhawks could be a difference maker at both ends of the ice. He is an excellent penalty killer and threat to score shorthanded and will be asked to provide some much needed secondary scoring while teams focus on Kane, Toews, and Hossa.
PH: Which team will be left standing when all is said and done? Why?
SL: A Capitals-Blackhawks final would be tremendous for hockey and their cities who have been starving for a Stanley Cup championship. They appear on paper to be mirror images of each other. They have tremendous depth throughout their lineup. They have superstar big game players on both sides and both teams have jekyll and hyde goaltending. It would be a fascinating series to watch and I like the Washington Capitals in an exciting 7 game series to win it all.
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Patrick has a tremendous passion for hockey. Besides covering the Rangers and the NHL for Kukla's Korner, you can also find Patrick's work over at Sportsnet.ca, The Red Light District Hockey Blog, NHL Home Ice, and Liam Maguire's Ultimate Hockey web site.
Prior to writing for the above mentioned outlets, you could find Patrick's musings at hockey web sites/outlets such as TheHockeyNews.com, TheFourthPeriod.com, Spector's Hockey, Hokeja Vestnesis, Blueshirt Bulletin, SNYRangersBlog.com and many more.
For questions, comments and hip checks, feel free to e-mail Patrick at email@example.com.