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April 12, The 2011 NHL Playoff Predictions

April 12, 2011 Leave a comment

Western Conference

First Round

1. Vancouver Canucks VS 8. Chicago Blackhawks

Prediction: Canucks in 5. The Canucks are just the better all around team. They are more well rounded, and also have arguably the best goalie in the league in Roberto Luongo. The Blackhawks just can’t match up in any facet of the game. Canucks will go on to the next round.

The Sedins sure are a scary sight for opposing goalies. IMAGE // niteshonsports.org

2. San Jose Sharks VS 7. Los Angeles Kings

Prediction: San Jose in 6. The Sharks, who have been choke artists in the playoffs in recent history, will get the job done in this first round match up. Losing Kopitar for the season was a major blow to the Kings chances this season. Maybe next year.

3. Detroit Red Wings VS 6. Phoenix Coyotes

Prediction: Red Wings in 4. The Wings are, and have been the class of the NHL for quite some time now. Despite their shaky situation in net, with Jimmy Howard battling through late season injuries, the Wings have too much goal scoring power to be denied.

4. Anaheim Ducks VS 5. Nashville Predators

Predictions: Ducks in 6. Ok, so I picked all favorites in the first round. Well that is for a good reason. The Ducks are one of the hottest teams in the NHL, with one of the hottest players in Corey Perry. Pekka Rinne is one of the most underrated goalies in the league, and he will keep Nashville in it, but ultimately the Ducks will prevail.

Second Round

1. Vancouver Canucks VS 4. Anaheim Ducks

Prediction: Canucks in 7. This potential match up has the making of a classic. The two teams feature upper echelon goalies, and goal scorers. On any given night these offenses are capable of scoring six goals, while their goalies are capable of blanking opponents just as easily. In the end, I see the Canucks surviving this battle.

2. San Jose Sharks VS 3. Detroit Red Wings

 Prediction: Red Wings in 4. I don’t buy into San Jose’s method. I think this season will be another disappointing one for the Sharks, making a playoff exit in their San Jose way, by means of a sweep.

Western Conference Finals

1. Vancouver Canucks VS 3. Detroit Red Wings

Predictions: Canucks in 6. When you think of offensive scoring power, you think of the Sedins, Kessler, Zetterberg, and Datsyuk. I don’t think this series will disappoint those who love to see goals. In the end, it will come down to one goalie stepping up, and that goalie is Luongo. The Canucks will be making a much awaited return to the Stanley Cup.

Eastern Conference

First Round

1. Washington Capitals VS 8. New York Rangers

Prediction: Rangers in 6. The Rangers are not a team anyone wanted to see make the playoffs. To be fair, I don’t think anyone wanted to face the Hurricanes either. The Capitals have finished the regular season atop the East, but not in the most convincing of ways. The Flyers really free fell from the ranks to give up the one seed. The Capitals have the clearcut super star on the ice in Alex Ovechkin, but his presence has not meant much for them historically in the playoffs. That coupled with the fact that I couldn’t tell you who their number one starter is in net leads me to believe that there will be more heartache in Washington this season. Lundqvist will stand tall in this series.

2. Philadelphia Flyers VS 7. Buffalo Sabres

Martin St. Louis had a renaissance in Tampa Bay this season. In my eyes, it was him and not Stamkos that was Tampa's MVP this season. IMAGE // Hockeyjunkies.blogspot.com

 

 

Prediction: Flyers in 7. The Flyers have been in free fall mode over the last two weeks of the season. Will they be able to get it together? I think so, but I’m really not sure. It would be easy for me to pick Buffalo simply because they have a reliable goalie in Ryan Miller, and the Flyers have a goalie-by-committee system going. I don’t have a lot of faith in Philadelphia, but if Chris Pronger returns to the team like I expect him to, they should be able to advance to the second round.

3. Boston Bruins VS 6. Montreal Canadiens

Prediction: Canadiens in 6. The Montreal Canadiens feature one of the fastest teams in the league, and in this Original Six match up, I see the Canadiens taking care of the rival Boston Bruins. Both teams boast strong goaltending, but I think the Canadiens will be stronger. Call it a hunch. This pick is one that I don’t carry great confidence in.

4. Pittsburgh Penguins VS 5. Tampa Bay Lightning

Prediction: Tampa Bay in 5. No Sidney Crosby and no Geno Malkin makes this pick a bit easier. Despite the fact that the Penguins have impressively managed to win without these two stars, I don’t think they can sustain their winning in a seven game series with one of the most impressive scoring teams in the league. The Lighting move on.

Second Round

2. Philadelphia Flyers VS 8. New York Rangers

Prediction: Rangers in 5. The difference in this series stands out to me. Goaltending. Henrik Lundqvist will simply be too much for the Flyers when it’s all said and done. I don’t know how much I like the Flyers to even make it this far, so for me this is a pretty easy decision.

5. Tampa Bay Lightning VS 6. Montreal Canadiens

Prediction: Lightning in 5. I like the Lightning this season. They combine strong offensive output and speed with leadership. This is a team that has no shortage of seasoned guys who have been there and done that. The high flying play of their offense combined with the strong goaltending of Dwayne Roloson. I expect to see Tampa Bay in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Eastern Conference Finals

5. Tampa Bay Lightning VS 8. New York Rangers

Prediction: Lightning in 7. As much as it hurts to say, I think the Lightning have what it takes to represent the East in the Stanley Cup. The Rangers just don’t have enough to answers to what Tampa will be throwing at them. John Tortorella led the Lightning to the Stanley Cup in 03-04, and this season he could very well watch his former team make their way back for the first time since he was there.

Stanley Cup Finals

1. Vancouver Canucks VS 5. Tampa Bay Lightning

Prediction: Canucks in 6. For all the reasons I mentioned earlier, the Canucks will be the Stanley Cup Champions, redeeming their 1994 loss in seven games to the New York Rangers.

Conn Smythe Winner: Daniel Sedin

Check out some highlights of the last time these two teams were in the Stanley Cup:

April 5, Eastern Conference Playoff Picture

April 5, 2011 Leave a comment

Hey guys,

So yesterday was a big day for the Rangers and the Bruins. With 99 points, the Bruins were hoping to add two points to their record in an effort to catch the Flyers and Captials (both have 103.) The Rangers are fighting for their playoff lives, and they were playing to add two points to their 89.

The game started out quite ominously for the Rangers, falling behind 3-0 in the second period. Vinny Prospal took control after the Bruins third goal, netting two goals before the end of the period, and making the score a managable 3-2.

The third period was all New York. Dubinsky netted his 24th goal of the season with less than four minutes to play. Dubinsky’s goal was followed shortly after by a Michael Sauer goal that just barely crossed the goal line, and with less than a minute left, Derek Stepan netted a 75 foot empty netter. Final score 5-3.

Here’s an updated look at the confence standings:

Eastern Conference Standings Heading into April 5

Even though the Rangers got a must needed win for their playoff hopes, the game did not go without dissapointment. Early reports indicate that Ryan Callahan injured himself, likely blocking a Zdeno Chara shot, and will miss the remainder of the season. The Rangers were fortunate to get the win last night, a win that will likely mean they will be playing playoff hockey, but at a devastating cost.

It’s going to be a lot harded for the Blueshirts to make a serious playoff run this season without their gritty leader, but they can still rally an effort to make a serious run. Especially with Henrik Lundqvist in net because as we all know, the best equipped playoff teams are those with the best/hottest goalies.

Watch the highlights of last nights contest:

April 3, Eastern Conference Hockey

April 3, 2011 Leave a comment

[UPDATE] 7:44 PM — The Rangers were able to hold of the Flyers today, and took the win in a shootout. Erik Christensen and Wojtek Wolski scored in the shootout, while Lundqist made his two stops to secure the win.

The Sabres also just finished playing, and they defeated the Carolina Hurricanes in Overtime by the score of 2-1. The Rangers and Sabres both gained one point on the Hurricanes this afternoon.

Heres an updated look at the playoff picture in the East:

Standings through April 3

 

Hey guys,

As many of you hockey fans already know, the Eastern Conference is very tight at the bottom, and it is basically a three team race for two spots. Carolina defeated the Islanders last night, and the Sabres lost to the Capitals in overtime, so both teams got at least one point, with the Canes getting two. So here is what the race for the playoffs looks like:

Standings Going Into April 3

I’ll make an update once the games go final. The Rangers are just going underway now against the Flyers on NBC.

March 21, Marc Staal’s Presence is Felt

March 21, 2011 Leave a comment

Hey guys,

It seems like it has become a weekly Sunday tradition to watch the Rangers on the national television game of the week on NBC. The Rangers are in the midst of a serious playoff push, so naturally they are an attractive option to play on the game of the week. It is also easy to play an Original Six team since they have so much history, and thus such loyal fan-bases.

Yesterday was a continuation of the Rangers’ strong playoff push, distinguishing themselves from Buffalo and Carolina. The Rangers defeated the Penguins by the score of 5-2, sweeping Pittsburgh in their new home arena, the Consol Energy Center, three game to none.

Marc Staal puts the Devils in their place. IMAGE // SNY

As well as the Rangers played yesterday, and as dominant of a victory as it turned out to be, I feel the game could have been a shutout. Not to be pessimistic about such a great win, but the element of the game that was glaring in my eyes was the absence of Marc Staal, and the manner in which the Penguins scored their two goals. On the Penguins first goal of the game, Girardi was on the ice with Steve Eminger, and their lack of feel for one another allowed Jordan Staal to waltz into the left side of the Rangers zone uncontested, and allowed the Penguins first goal. The second goal was more of a team effort to work against them. The puck was changing hand multiple times in the neutral zone before Chris Kunitz possessed the puck, and fired a fairly wide open shot to beat Lundqvist. Like I said, it was more of a team failure to allow the Penguins second goal, but If Staal was on the ice, things could have been different.

 

Thankfully, the Rangers were able to secure the win, but Staal’s contribution to the team can not be understated. Without Staal, I don’t see the Rangers getting far in the playoffs, with him, there is no limit to what this team can do. Not to say he is the only important player on this team. It would hurt the Rangers chances if they lost Dubinsky, Prospal, or Gaborik, but I feel that Staal, Callahan, and Lundqvist are the players this team can absolutely not afford to lose.

Enjoy the highlights of yesterdays big win!

March 19, Lundqvist Gets 30

March 19, 2011 Leave a comment

Hey guys,

Last night the New York Rangers played the Montreal Canadiens, and delivered a punishing win. The game was determined before the first period was over. New York jumped out to an early 1-0 lead off the unassisted goal of Artem Anisimov. Montreal retaliated shortly after with a goal from rookie P.K. Subban, but after that it was all Rangers for the rest of the first period. Halfway through the first, Girardi netted a goal making the score 2-1.

The changing of guard: The NHL makes the transition from the great goalie of years past to the great goalie of the future. IMAGE // hlundqvist.blogspot.com

Then the flood gates opened. Callahan scored a bizzare goal in the last three minutes of the period, which set off a series of fortunate events for New York. 32 seconds after the Callahan goal, Gaborik netted his fourth goal of the season on a quick wrister, and before the Garden could settle down, Brian Boyle tallied his 21st goal of the season only 35 seconds after Gaborik’s goal.

 

The Canadiens never even had a chance after the offensive explosion in the first period, but they were able to shrink the lead to 5-3 before Vinny Prospal put the icing on the cake with a third period goal. Final score: 6-3 Rangers.

The win was a momentous one for King Henrik, who recorded his 30th win of the season. It marked an NHL record six straight seasons of 30+ win goaltending for Lundqvist. No other goalie has started their career with 30 wins in each of their first six season. Lundqvist is clearly a talented goalie. I personally feel that there is no better goalie in the game right now than Henrik. There are plenty of goalies who are highly talented, but when Hank is on top of his game, he is in a class of his own. Congratulations Henrik, next step in a hall of fame to-be career; Lord Stanley’s Cup.

Check out some highlights of Hank from the other days game against the Islanders. This is what I mean about his brilliance and dominance.

March 8, Rangers Dominate Flyers Revisited

March 8, 2011 Leave a comment

Hey Guys,

Today I will revisit the great win for the Rangers on Sunday against the Flyers. Ryan Callahan, Henrik Lundqvist, and Mats Zuccarello were the three obvious stars in the game, but in my opinion Artem Anisimov had the best goal in the game. Callahan had four goals, the first hat trick of his career, and there was one play that really should have resulted in a goal, but Gaborik was off by about a foot on one pass that cost Cally what would have been his fourth goal at the time, and his fifth total.

The Rangers wore their white home sweaters, bringing back memories of the glorious ’94 team that won it all wearing white in the Garden. So what do you guys think of Rangers jerseys? Do you prefer white, blue, statue of liberty, or the dark blue heritage jerseys?

February 19, A look back at Richard Zednik

February 19, 2011 Leave a comment

Richard Zednik had the wherewithal to get up immediately once he was sliced, and skate to the bench for medical attention. Image courtesy of http://www.arstechnica.com

Today is close to the three year anniversary (Feb. 10, 2008) of that brutal play where Richard Zednik almost bled out on the ice. This came up in conversation last night when we were watching the Rangers, Devils game, which I might add was a shit show for the Rangers. Lundqvist is the only reason the Devils only won 1-0 and not much more. There was a play in the game last night where Kovalchuk took a reckless swing at the puck in the air, and smacked a Ranger (I think Wolski) in the face.

 

Zednik has not played in the NHL since the 08-09 season, but played in the KHL in the 2009-10 season. While he did play in the NHL, he was successful, by no means a great player, but certainly had an NHL career to look back at with reverence. Zednik is the type of player that went about his business, tallying 200 goals and 179 assists in his 15 year career (10 of which he played at least 49 games.)