| Eastern Conference Quarter
Take these to the bank!
We've sized up the first round of the playoffs with
our form of predictions, LGS style. Do not use for gambling or any form of
wagering. For your entertainment (or not) only.
We've called out series
winners, why they'll win, who we think will be the x-factor in the series, but
most importantly, who will be the goat!
|Ken Smyth - Bruins in 6
|An all-Original Six matchup, this is the
perfect series for traditionally minded fans so selective theyd never
watch a game with a California team playing, or at least not pay me for the
tickets they used (you know who you are!). Boston looks like theyre on a
roll to the Conference Final, while Detroit coach Mike Babcock has done a
masterful job dealing with injuries and threading some
who-are-these-guys from Grand Rapids into the Wings lineup to make
the playoffs. Boston has traditionally (that word again) had problems in the
first round but they should win this one in six games.
Tatar of the Red Wings- cant carry the team but gives them moments
Goat- Jimmy Howard Red Wings goalie- gives Boston their moments
|Ryan Hall - Bruins in
|I can't recall the last
time these two original 6 teams met in the playoffs, which should make this a
treat to watch if you're the sort of fan that digs nostalgia. If you aren't,
but you like watching one team cream the other, then this series will also be
good for you as the Bruins are too deep, too physical, and too good. One
caveat: If Detroit can extend the series to a game 6 and Zetterberg returns,
then watch out for the upset.
Standouts: Watch for Loui Eriksson for
Boston to have a strong series in this playoff debut for Boston, and Gustav
Nyquist (Detroit) to continue his strong play.
Goats: Known for their
quick tempers, Milan Lucic and Brad Marchant could sink the Bruins if they take
too many penalties and let the Wings PP do some damage. For Detroit, the
pressure is on Jimmy Howard to prove he really is a legitimate playoff goalie.
|Paul Krill - Bruins in 5
|The red-hot Bruins should take this series
from yesterday's wonders, the Red Wings, in 5 games. Tuukka Rask continues his
excellent play in goal for the Bruins while the Red Wings' Jimmy Howard
continues to fail to get it done in the playoffs. At least Howard won't have to
face the Sharks again.
|Mike Lee - Bruins in
|Look for the Red Wings to
play nothing resembling Red Wings hockey. Detroit has too many holes and won't
compete against the Bruins bruising style of play. Tuuka Rask will have a field
day with the Red Wings. The Bruins are the odds on favorite to win the Cup for
a reason. Solid up and down the lineup, and they have plenty of talent that
knows what it takes to win it all.
Standouts: Look for the usual cast of
characters to do most of the damage in the series. David Krejci, Patrice
Bergeron and Milan Lucic will carry Boston to the Division
Goats: Detroit's leading scorer Daniel Alfredsson will do
what he always does in the playoffs. He'll go into a shell, leaving the Red
Wing faithful wondering how he vanished. Jimmy Howard may steal a game or two,
but he won't be able to sustain the Bruin's barrage.
|Ken Smyth - Canadiens in 6
|The snowbird series, both team were
recharged at the trade deadline with the Canadiens adding Tomas Vanek and the
Lightning taking Ryan Callahan. Both teams have strong goaltending with Carey
Price for Montreal and Ben Bishop for Tampa. As much as the chaos lover in me
wants Tampa to win just to see the scapegoating that takes place whenever a
Canadian team loses, this should go to Montreal in six or seven games.
Standout- Steven Stamkos admantium leg
Goat- Tampa Bay
penalty kill (all because of Canadian referees??)
|Ryan Hall - Canadiens in
|This series should be an
exhibition of wide open skating, with goals galore for all to see. In the end
that favours the Habs, as they are deeper in the scoring department than the
Lightning who rely on Stamkos to carry them. A slight nod in goaltending
towards Carey Price also means that Montreal will win this series without being
pushed too hard.
Standouts: Steven Stamkos for Tampa will be the one
to watch no matter how his team does. On the flip side, Thomas Vanek returns to
the playoffs after a long drought, and that motivation should drive him to
Goats: Ben Bishop/Anders Lindback (goalies) for the
Lightning will bear the brunt of criticism if things go sour for Tampa Bay.
Similarly, lightning rod P.K. Subban will wear the horns if the Habs flame out
in the first round.
|Paul Krill - Canadiens in 6
|Canada's only playoff team this year will
beat Tampa in six games. These teams are about as close in the standings and
teams can get, 101 points for Tampa and 101 for Montreal. The Canadiens will
feed off their always-fanatic fan support to win this series, with Max
Pacioretty rising to the occasion for Montreal while Steven Stamkos will show
signs of rust, having just come back from a major injury for Tampa.
|Mike Lee - Lightning in
|Simply playing the
history game here, Tampa Bay takes this series simply because they match up
well against the Canadiens, having won three of four games during the regular
season series. Since trading Martin St Louis at the trade deadline, Tampa Bay
has rediscovered the art of playing solid hockey. Montreal has the weight of a
nation sitting on their shoulders, being the only Canadian team to qualify for
the playoffs this season. How does that even happen?
Standouts: Look for
Ryan Callahan to finally do something in the playoffs, and leave Rangers fans
scratching their heads. Steven Stamkos will simply be Steven Stamkos, scoring
Goats: Once the Lightning figure out that if they shut down Max
Pacioretty, they shut down the Canadiens, this series is over. Montreal isn't
exactly a goal scoring machine, and Tomas Plekanec isn't enough to pick up the
slack. P.K. Subban won't be the offensive juggernaut from the blueline that
everyone in Montreal needs him to be.
|Ken Smyth - Penguins in 4
|Columbus has been in only one other playoff
series in their history and didnt win a game. That streak should stay
alive here. Penguins in four.
Standout- Sidney Crosby- no matter what,
theyll say it was all Crosby
Goat-Sergei Bobrovsky (Columbus
goalie) for not shutting the Pens out four straight.
|Ryan Hall - - Penguins in
|It seems the vogue pick
this year is to bet against the Penguins and take the Blue Jackets; something
about Marc-Andre Fleury being a playoff dud I think? People seem to forget he
DID take the Pens to two finals. Also, this year's squad didn't overexert
themselves chasing individual hardware, so I expect to see a Pittsburgh buzz
saw cut a swathe through a very game, but ultimately overwhelmed, Blue Jackets
Standouts: For Pittsburgh it'll be Sidney Crosby taking
advantage of a Blue Jackets team that just isn't quite ready for the prime
time. With that being said, look for the standout Ryan Johansen to prove that
he's a real superstar in the making.
Goats: Okay, it's obviously going
to be Fleury's fault if the Penguins do the unthinkable and lose. Meanwhile,
most of Columbus gets a free pass but Brandon Dubinsky has seen enough
postseason ice time that if he isn't noticeable (in a good way), he'll draw
lots of fire.
|Paul Krill - Penguins in 6
|It should be an easy series for the Pens,
unless Sidney Crosby decides to play the way he did in San Jose a while ago (as
in lousy). Otherwise, he will star in this series and Sergei Bobrovsky will
under-perform for Columbus, just like Team Russia at the Sochi Olympics.
|Mike Lee - Penguins in
|Congratulations to the
Columbus Blue Jackets for simply qualifying for the playoffs. After dumping
Rick Nash two seasons ago, the Blue Jackets have quietly constructed a lineup
up good old fashioned hard-working hockey players. Too bad they're facing the
Pittsburgh Penguins in the opening round. The Penguins didn't exactly light the
league on fire over their last 10 games, but they have the horsepower to
dispatch the Blue Jackets. This series won't even be close. Look for the
Penguins to get Evgeni Malkin back in the lineup.
has so many offensive weapons that there won't be that one guy. Looks for Chris
Kunitz and James Neal to become regular names to the casual hockey observer.
Syndney Crosby takes a back seat as he primes himself for the spotlight of the
Goats: It's tough to pin a goat tag on a team that really
has no chance in this series, but I'll give it to Sergei Bobrovsky primarily
because he's the one guy that could save Columbus in this series. Problem is,
he won't do it.
|Ken Smyth - Rangers in 7
|Two teams not terribly friendly with each
other since the days of the Patrick Division. Have the Flyers found a goalie in
Steve Mason. Probably not, but if he and his team can stay hot this could be
fun. Rangers have Hendrik Lundqvist in goal and import Martin St Louis brought
in for scoring. This will be a physical series and Ranger fans may wish
theyd kept Ryan Callahan.
Standout- Hendrik Lindqvist who is out
to prove something
Goat- Steve Mason, because the goalie is always to
blame when the Flyers lose. Never mind the style of play in front of him. (side
bet- how many times will a broadcaster slip and call him
|Ryan Hall - Rangers in
|Pound for pound, this
should be the best opening round series of the entire playoffs. Two teams that
really don't like each other meet for the first time since Gretzky and Lindros
were playing, and I for one can't wait to see the bad blood flow. While the
Flyers are deeper up front, the Rangers are better on the backend and in net,
meaning that in the pivotal Game 7 they'll have just enough to tip the scales
in their favor.
Standouts: After leaving Tampa and signing a big deal
with Philly, Vincent Lecalvier really needs to have a good playoffs, and I
think he will. On the other side of the ice, Henrik Lundquist will have the
biggest say in just how successful the Rangers are.
Goats: Steve Mason
finds himself cast in the comical role of Flyers post-season goalie; that's a
no win spot. If he so much as lets a single bad goal in, he'll bear all the
blame. For NY, Rick Nash makes the big bucks and needs to produce, or he could
find himself getting the Marian Gaborik treatment next season, as he shops for
an apartment in a new city.
|Paul Krill - Rangers in 7
|This series, featuring probably the two
most-popular NHL teams in New Jersey, should have the Rangers eking out a
series win in 7 games. But in a twist, Claude Giroux will be the series star
(he has 86 points this year) while the Rangers' Henrik Lundquist will slip in
goal. He has to be a bit frustrated, having had all this praise heaped upon him
for years and still having never even been to the Stanley Cup Finals.
|Mike Lee - Flyers in
|This is going to be one
of the series where New York looks back and asks how it lost the series. Based
on the goofiness of the NHL's new playoff seeding system, the 5th best record
in the East faces the 6th best record. Philadelphia struggled down the stretch,
but had enough in the tank to squeek ahead of Columbus and Detroit. This series
will be one of those oddities that pegs a Flyers team that's better suited for
the playoffs than their opponent.
Standouts: Very quietly, Steve Mason
won 33 games this season. Look for the Flyers netminder to steal this series
for the Flyers.
Goats: Martin St Louis was brought to New York to get
the Rangers over the hump, but he'll fall short. Rick Nash will dissapear as he
always does come spring time. Henrik Lunqvist will be average and average
doesn't advance you to the next round.
our Western Conference predictions.
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