by PuckStopsHere on 04/14/09 at 02:00 AM ET
The first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs is underway soon. It is time to make predictions. Last year I managed a respectable 10-5 record in the playoffs. Let’s see how I can do this year.
San Jose defeats Anaheim This is the first time ever for this battle of California series. Anaheim is much stronger than a typical eighth seed. They are two years removed from a Stanley Cup victory and retain much of that talent. They have further young scoring talent in Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan. They can be a strong playoff team if Jean-Sebastien Giguere provides goaltending. However, San Jose is the team to beat this year. They are the most well rounded playoff team and coming off a first place finish in the regular season. The Sharks will get pushed in the first round, but they should be too much for the Ducks.
Detroit defeats Columbus Detroit has to find playoff goaltending in order to make a playoff run this year. Their goaltending has been a weakness much of the season. While Columbus has a strong young goaltender in Steve Mason (who cooled off in the latter part of the season), they do not have the offensive or defensive depth to handle the Red Wings. The Blue Jackets first playoff trip likely will not be a long one.
Vancouver defeats St Louis St Louis was remarkably hot down the stretch in order to make the playoffs. Vancouver was also hot down the stretch once the team jelled behind Mats Sundin and a healthy Roberto Luongo. St Louis just doesn’t have the talent to match up with any typical playoff team. Chris Mason is no Martin Brodeur. Carlo Colaiacovo and Barret Jackman are no Mattias Ohlund and Kevin Bieksa. TJ Oshie, David Backes and Andy McDonald are no Mast Sundin and the Sedins. Vancouver should stop the Cinderella Blues.
Calgary defeat Chicago Calgary likely slipped from a higher seed due to salary cap woes that forced them to play with less than a full roster. They are a better team than Chicago with more playoff experience. The additions of Olli Jokinen and Jordan Leopold do significantly improve the Flames and make them into a Stanley Cup contender, although that will be forgotten if they do not have a playoff run.
Boston defeat Montreal The Habs limped into the playoffs with an injury weakened defence and a slump in the stretch drive. The Bruins won the East Conference. This one has the biggest potential to be a blowout.
Washington defeat NY Rangers The Rangers had an even worse record down the stretch than Montreal did. Washington has some explosive offensive talents and a potential weakness with Jose Theodore in goal, but it should be more than enough to stop the low scoring Rangers.
New Jersey defeats Carolina The Hurricanes have done extremely well in the stretch run. It is hard to pick against them. That said, Martin Brodeur is relatively rested and the New Jersey Devils are a good team. This series should be a close one.
Pittsburgh defeat Philadelphia This battle of Pennsylvania series occurred last year in the semi-finals with the Penguins winning it. Pittsburgh has done very well since Sergei Gonchar returned from injury. The Penguins clearly have frontline talent with Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby on the team. Philadelphia has some very good defensive forwards (who bring offensive talent too) in Mike Richards and Jeff Carter to try to shut them down. The weakness for the Flyers may be goalie Martin Biron. He is playing for a new contract this year, but is not as good a goalie as the other playoff goalies. That should keep the Flyers from any significant run.
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