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MrKart

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My 2010 NHL Playoff Predictions

I always have sympathy for those people who like a certain game franchise that's a little under the radar but kinda criticized. Like... Star Ocean fans! They have a very devoted fan base, but it's somewhat less popular in the Americas compared to the Final Fantasies or what have you, and to outside eyes, there are some criticisms toward it. For me, hockey is by far the greatest sport ever. I have no idea why, but ever since my first game when I was a wee tike, I've been hooked on it. To that extent, if you like hockey, woohoo! If you don't, well, I'm sorry, I'm a huge fan of all sports, but this blog is about hockey. Namely, my predictions for the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs. One of my favorite things about hockey (although also one of it's biggest criticisms for some reason) is that in the playoffs, pretty much all teams in it have a chance to knock of any other team. Who knows why, but hockey sees so many upsets that they really aren't upsets anymore. Anyway, my predictions! I suppose this is kind of cheating since Game 1 of all but one of the series(s) has been played, but these predictions were from before then anyway. My thoughts:
 
Eastern Conference
 
Round 1:
 
(8) Montreal @ (1) Washington
Washington Wins 4-2 
 
I don't think the Caps are gonna sail through to the finals, mainly because I don't believe in Jose Theodore. He's a showy goaltender who has only been able to hold this "facade" of playing well because of the brilliant Capitals' defense. Unfortunately, in the playoffs, defense doesn't win, great goaltending does. That being said, the Caps will still overpower the Habs, but not in a straight sweep (well duh, Habs won game one). Montreal has a lot of heart, and no matter what they say, the Capitals still can't overlook their playoff woes of recent years. But Backstrom and Semin will tear down the Montreal defense, and Ovechkin will likely play a role in shutting the Habs down completely. Montreal will get one more win, but Washington's constant shot barrage will wither them down too much.
 
(7) Philadelphia @ (2) New Jersey
Philadelphia Wins 4-2 
 
Poor Brodeur. He's trending down so badly. To be perfectly frank, he's just... bad right now. And we can't overlook that Philadelphia took five of the six games against the Devils this season. Sure, the Flyers got in off a fluke (really, a crappy three-person shootout determined who got into the playoffs?? REALLY???) but they have an interesting goaltending option in Boucher who could be either great or horrible. I don't know why, but I just don't like New Jersey in this series--they don't match up well against the Flyers. And after that HORRENDOUS series last season against the Hurricanes, I think the Devils are starting to fall a bit into "Shark-syndrome."
 
(6) Boston @ (3) Buffalo
Buffalo Wins 4-1 
 
If ever a team could make it to the Stanley Cup Playoffs because of one player, it's the Buffalo Sabres. They don't have Ovechkin, and they don't have Crosby: they have Ryan Miller, a goaltender who has been playing out of his mind the past few seasons and who now FINALLY has a somewhat competent offense in front of him to score goals. It's not the greatest offense, but it's enough. And Boston is, quite frankly, unstable. Rask has the ability to perform well in net, but this Boston team went through hell just to make the playoffs. Remember how this team won the President Trophy last year? Yeah... definitely not happening here. The scores of the games will likely make them seem closer than they actually are, but Buffalo takes the series itself easily.
 
(5) Ottawa @ (4) Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh Wins 4-3 
 
This is the one series where I really just have no freaking idea. I honestly don't know what to say about Ottawa, they are such a sporadic team it's ridiculous. On paper, Pittsburgh, the defending Cup champion, should be able to sweep this. But something not right is happening in Penguin town. Marc-Andre Fleury is in a funk that he just can't seem to escape. Malkin is underachieving. Crosby... is playing at his best, which will help guide the Penguins to a series win. But this one will come down to the wire, and I really think the Penguins, who should win this easily, will only barely take it, specifically because of Fleury's poor play in net.
 
Round 2:
 
(7) Philadelphia @ (1) Washington
Washington Wins 4-1 
 
The Flyers may be able to fool New Jersey, but they can't fool the Caps. Yeah, I know, I just said the Caps won't breeze through this thing. But if this is their second round matchup, it'll be a blowout, simply because Philadelphia does not have the speed or manpower to keep Ovechkin and Semin in check, and with Washington's ability to control the puck, the Flyers will be desperate just to get shots on net. Granted, if they do, they're likely to go in with Theodore in net... but I still think the Caps win this one easily.
 
(4) Pittsburgh @ (3) Buffalo
Buffalo Wins 4-3 
 
Ryan Miller is better than Marc-Andre Fleury, and that is why the Sabres will knock off the Penguins. As good as Pittsburgh is in the playoffs, they're long series with Ottawa will wear them down too much, and Buffalo will simply out-man them. The Sabres have enough offense to put pucks past Fleury, and with home-ice advantage (lolwut) Buffalo should FINALLY be able to muscle their way into the Eastern Finals.
 
Eastern Finals:
 
(3) Buffalo @ (1) Washington
Buffalo Wins 4-3 
 
Miller will play out of his mind. He plays at his best when he's facing excessive amounts of shots, and that will no doubt be the case against Washington. He will stonewall them, frustrate them, and make them get greedy and make mistakes in the neutral zone. Buffalo will begin to put shots on net, and they will go in. Theodore won't be able to hold is ground, though by this point I expect we'll see Varlamov. Who cannot beat Ryan Miller. I expect Ovenchkin won't do so hot in this series either (or in the playoffs for that matter, though I have no support for that claim).
 
 
Western Conference 
 
Round 1
 
(8) Colorado @ (1) San Jose
Colorado Wins 4-2 
 
I wish I had said this before Game 1 happened, because this is what I felt all along, and NOBODY is picking Colorado to win this series. But come on. Colorado is young, yes, but if they get solid goaltending from Anderson, they will win this series. Look at the season series: it split 2-2, but the Avs scored more goals combined in the four games. And we all know how much pressure is on the Sharks from their inability to perform in the playoffs in recent years. The Avs are bustling with young energy and enthusiasm, and if they keep the Thornton line in check, they're golden. The Sharks just SUCK in the playoffs. They just do. They can give all the talk they want about how they've changed and such, but until they show up and blow out the Avs in a game, I won't believe it. And I don't think they will. Colorado wins the series on home ice.
 
(7) Nashville @ (2) Chicago
Chicago Wins 4-1 
 
No contest. The only reason why Nashville wins one game is because of shaky goaltending by Niemi. Or Huet. Or whoever Quenville puts in. They'll mess up for one game where Nashville's offense will finally be able to click, and then Tawes will go to work on the young goaltender of the Preds. Oh I know, "But the Predators played so well down the stretch!" Yeah, look at their schedule during that time. Chicago is just a complete team, aside from goaltending. They are essentially the Western equivalent of Caps, just with a tradeoff of slightly lower offense for slightly better goaltending (lolwut).
 
(6) Los Angeles @ (3) Vancouver
Vancouver Wins 4-3 
 
I think this will be the second best quarterfinal series. Vancouver is excellent. This is their best team they've had in a very long time, perhaps ever. Not only do they have the great Luongo, but they have a killer offense now to boot (again, lolwut). The Sedins are playing out of their minds, as is Samuelson. But... there's a slight problem. Just when the offense was FINALLY starting to click in Vancouver, there one UBER RELIABLE source is starting to fall. Luongo just is not playing as well as his past self. He's still good, but he's no longer great. You can see it in his approach--he just doesn't look comfortable in net anymore. And while the Kings' Johnathon Quick went under scrutiny during the end of the season, he has the potential to be a Gigure-type playoff force when he guided Anaheim to the cup. It's like Bill Clement said about Brodeur trending up and Roy trending down during the 2001 Stanley Cup Finals, only now it's about Quick and Luongo, respectively. Too bad the Kings don't have the offensive capability to keep up.
 
(5) Detroit @ (4) Phoenix
Phoenix Wins 4-3 
 
I wish this could be the Western Conference Final matchup, as right now, these are the two best teams. Alas, only one will move on to the semifinals, and that team is likely to win it all. Detroit is Detroit: they are healthy now, and thus are incredibly deadly, especially given their playoff track record. But Phoenix is playing hockey reminiscent of the Colorado Rockies three years ago when they made it to the World Series. They're having fun, and they have a hell of a lot of heart. Not to mention, they've got Ilya, who is playing his best goaltending ever and is MILES ahead of Jimmy Howard, no matter what anyone says, and they've got offensive capabilities (getting Wolski has worked wonders for them). This one is really a coin flip, but I like Phoenix just because of home-ice advantage. Just get rid of that stupid white-out thing Coyotes fans--it looks like you're support Detroit.
 
Round 2
 
(8) Colorado @ (2) Chicago
Chicago Wins 4-0 
 
My only predicted sweep. Colorado may be able to outgun the Sharks, but Chicago will not go down like that. Chicago will MANHANDLE the Avalanche, only because the Blackhawks team ALSO has a string of young guns who can keep up with the Colorado ones. Anderson will start to crack a little bit, and Chicago will just have far too much puck control and offensive prowess to drop even one game. But don't worry Avalanche nation, you got one playoff series upset under your belt! (I'm a member of said nation, p.s.)
 
(4) Phoenix @ (3) Vancouver
Phoenix Wins 4-2 
 
I like this series too. Both teams are quite evenly matched, so it comes down to me liking Bryzgala... Bryglao... Ilya much more than Luongo. A lot of one goal games in this one (not like that won't be the case in most of the series), but I think the Canucks will start to run out of gas before the Coyotes do. I like the Sedins over Shane Doan and Volski, but again, I think it'll come more down to goaltending.
 
Western Finals
 
(4) Phoenix @ (2) Chicago
Phoenix Wins 4-3 
 
Another awesome series. Phoenix gets to go up against the toughest competition in the league en route to their Stanley Cup appearance, but it's gonna happen thanks to Ilya being WAY better in net than whoever is playing for Chicago at that time, and because the Coyotes players will actually be able to keep up with the Blackhawks'. Sorry Tawes, but you're gonna give the Cubbies one more chance to grab a title before your team does.
 
Stanley Cup
 
Buffalo Sabres @ Phoenix Coyotes
Phoenix Wins 4-2
 
I don't know why, but I just don't see this one being that close. I don't think the Sabres are the best team in the Eastern Conference, but I think they'll get here because of Ryan Miller. Yet I don't think Miller can stop the Coyotes. And after beating up on Detroit AND Vancouver AND Chicago, I think Phoenix, who will certainly be running out of steam at this point, will be able to pull it together and topple the Sabres. Specifically because it will be the first time Buffalo will be up against an [almost] equally strong goaltender. And with the offensive capabilities that the Coyotoes can put together, Phoenix may just get its Cinderella story.

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