NHL Playoffs – Round 2 Preview
Flyers in 6! Called it!
In what was one of the craziest, high scoring, cheap shot taking, emotionally draining series I’ve seen in a while, the Flyers shut down the ever-favored Penguins in 6 games. I have just three words to describe my feelings: Suck. It. Bettman. (This was actually chanted at the end of Game 6 at the Wells Fargo Center).
I just wanted to give myself some dap before I admit how bad I picked in the West Conference. To be somewhat fair though, I never get to see those teams play.
So all in all I went 4-4.. Not too horrible, but 3 of my wrong picks were in the West. I actually did better than some NHL Analysts since there were a bunch of upsets. (I’ll leave them nameless, even though one picked Penguins vs Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup. HAH.)
I didn’t realize Nashville was so good, or should I say Pekka Rinne, since every time I caught a game it seemed like he was stopping the 35+ shot barrage Detroit was laying on him in the 3rd period. I thought the Senators had a shot at taking out the Rangers, which is why I picked it in 7 games – they almost did. I was not expecting the Caps to have playoff success since I’m not used to them ever having playoff success. But at least I got my Flyers pick right and that’s what’s important.
Our Round 2 preview looks likes this:
Not watching much Western Conference games, I have to say I loved the Coyotes – Blackhawks matchup. Every game was so close and they tied an NHL record for their first 5 games going to OT. With that being said, I think having a close game gives the advantage to Nashville. I think Pekka Rinne with Shea Weber and Ryan Suter in front of him will be able to hold off the Coyotes. After all, they held off the Red Wings, who certainly have more offensive talent than Phoenix. Now, Mike Smith has been playing pretty good as well and I honestly don’t know if I can name any offensive players on Nashville, but I just don’t see Phoenix being able to match them. I think the fact that Corey Crawford isn’t very good helped Phoenix advance past the Blackhawks.
So i’ll take: Nashville Predators in 6
I’m not buying Los Angeles. Sure, Jonathan Quick is great, their offense is supposedly real deep and their defense is solid. But the Blues have all this too, and a better coach. I also know better than to trust Mike Richards and Jeff Carter in the playoffs. John Stevens couldn’t coach them to a Stanley Cup in Philadelphia, so I’m not sure why LA thinks that reuniting all the failures from over in Philly will mean success in LA. Maybe because they have a goalie there? Who knows? I may be biased because Richards and Carter may have let me down one too many times, but honestly, how can anyone be surprised when Jeff Carter pulls something like this: …Wait no link to input. Damn, I couldn’t find the video..
Let me describe it: The puck bounces out of the corner to a wide open Jeff Carter in the slot. He is 1-on-1 with the goalie, he takes the shot.. and whiffs. Completely misses the puck. Real quick he tries to recover and get a good shot in. This time he gets the puck, and sends it 6 ft over the net to bounce off the glass. He missed the puck and the net from like 5 ft away! That’s like throwing an airball on a free throw! Sorry LA, Jeff Carter is not a playoff performer and not the answer to bringing home a cup.
I’m going: St. Louis Blues in 7
The Capitals surprised me in the first round. They probably surprised their fans. As a team that’s publicly known for blowing it in the Playoffs, they looked pretty good against a tough (not as tough as last year though) Bruins team. The Bruins were missing Nathan Horton and Tim Thomas did not play out of this world like last year, but still they were a tough team to take on. The Capitals gave their top 3 lines, if not all 4, equal playing time which a lot of people might say is crazy since it limits Alex Ovechkin to about 14-15 min of ice time per game.. But guess what – It works. Their other lines are more defensive minded than Ovechkin is and against a Bruins team that was 2nd overall in Goals For this year, that was what they needed. And it helps that rookie goalie Braden Holtby played as good as Tim Thomas this year.
But with all that being said, the Rangers have Henrik Lundqvist – who IS playing out of this world this year. I don’t think a defensive minded game will help the Caps beat the Rangers who I’m pretty sure never lost in regulation this year when scoring 3 or more goals (I don’t count shootouts – they’re lame). The Rangers are scary because they can score and they can stop you from scoring (which is the objective of hockey after all, right?). They block an unbelievable amount of shots and the ones that do get through, King Henrik gobbles up. Sorry Capitals fans, I know you’ve been waiting for your team to perform in the playoffs.
I got: New York Rangers in 5
I think it’s crazy that the Atlantic Division is so good that the Flyers may have to go through the Penguins, the Devils and the Rangers just to make it out of the East. How weird would it be to play only your own division on the way to the Cup. It would especially be scary for the Flyers because that path leads through the Rangers, but I’m getting ahead of myself. I won’t just assume a Flyers win because they’re the Flyers (Even though I’d like to). The truth is these teams are about as even as it gets. They both have 4 lines that can score, they both have (supposed) good goaltenders.
But I think Philadelphia has the slight edge in defense. I know this sounds ridiculous after the amount of goals given up in Round 1, but New Jersey relies on their top 3 defenders a lot and I’m willing to bet they don’t trust their 3rd or 4th line to play a great defensive game like the Flyers do. I think with the Flyers rolling 4 lines that score, the Devils defensive corps will be overworked and it will create match up problems for the Devils. Philly has at least 4 solid defenseman and they can trust guys like Sean Couturier, Brayden Schenn and Max Talbot to play great defensively when their 3rd defensive pair is on the ice.
And let’s not forget Martin Brodeur. He will undoubtedly go down as one of, if not THE, best goaltender in the history of the NHL. But to be honest, he’s old. He didn’t look spectacular in the series against the Panthers (just solid) and I’m not sure how well he can stand up to a constant 4 line barrage of offense either. The Devils are a tough team and I think this series will be as good as both of their last series, but I also think Rangers – Flyers for the East is destined (unfortunately).
I’ll pick: Flyers in 7