April - no longer the cruelest month
Unless you happen to live in Boston, that is.
I won't jinx things by saying that this is the year the Canadiens win their 25th Stanley Cup and 24th NHL Championship (they won their first cup in 1916, the year before the NHL was formed) but despite their own captain's predictions it's been a very good year so far.
First round match up and predictions:
Montreal vs Boston - Is this even in question? Even with Montreal's Saku Koivu sidelined with a broken foot, Montreal pretty much owns Boston in the playoffs, beating them in 23 of 30 post-season series and taking all eight games from them this season. Montreal in four.
Pittsburgh vs Ottawa - Pittsburgh has Syd Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, while Ottawa is missing Daniel Alfredsson and role-player Mike Fisher. Ottawa had a good season before stumbling in the stretch and barely making the playoffs, while Pittsburgh, despite a so-so defence, finished a very strong second to the Habs. Assuming Pens goalie Marc-Andre Fleury doesn't fall apart more than once or twice Pittsburgh ought to win this one. Pittsburgh in five.
Washington vs Philidelphia - Philly could win this if they can shut down Alex Ovechkin and Sergi Federov goes back into hibernation. And as a friend of mine likes to say, if you aunt had balls she's be your uncle. Washington ended the season by winning 11 of 12 games and they have a very strong goalie in Christobel Huet. Philidelphia, eh...not so much - Martin Biron has it in him to be a good goalie, but as numerous scouting reports and pundit predictions point out, plays lousy when he has to play back-to-back games. Washington in five.
New Jersey vs New York - The Devils finished ahead of the Rangers (just) and have Martin Brodeur, one of the best playoff goalies ever. The Rangers on the other hand took seven of eight games off the Devils this season. Both teams are solid defensively so this could come down to a lot of 2-1 games. Based on the track record for the season, it's New York, but NJ has a tendency to do well in tight spots so this one is tough to call. New York in seven
Detroit vs Nashville - Detroit took the regular season title 24 points ahead of Nashville. The Predators won five of their last six to make the playoffs and aren't a bad team, but they are totally outclassed by the Red Wings. Detroit in four
San Jose vs Calgary - As much as I'd love to see Calgary go all the way to the finals just so Montreal can whip their asses and make heads explode across Texas north (I'm sure they would find a way to blame it on Stephane Dion), San Jose has a juggernaut since the trade deadline. The Sharks have lots of offensive punch led by Joe Thornton with plenty of secondary scorers, whereas once you get past Jarome Iginla, the Flames don't have much in the way of big scorers. Both side have good goaltending, but a collapse between the pipes for either side would be a disaster because neither goalie is playing behind a stellar blueline corps. San Jose in five.
Minnesota vs. Colorado - Minnesota's had a good year but lack the depth on offense that Colorado has with vets like Peter Forsberg and Joe Sakic. If Jose Theodore plays well, Minnesota is doomed. Colorado in six.
Anaheim vs Dallas - Anaheim is not a drastically different team from the one that won the cup last year. Their goaltending is solid and they have a very stingy defense and with Teemu Selanne back in the line up may start scoring some goals. Besides Dallas has sucked hard for the last month and the addition of Brad Richards hasn't worked out anything like as well as the Stars had hoped. Anaheim in 6.
Leave your prediction or criticisms in the comments. Habs-haters will be treated with the respect they deserve, ie: Much the way a dog treats a fire hydrant.
Update: Scott Lemieux has his picks posted over at Lawyers, Guns and Money, along with the predictions of the World's Most Dangerous Professor
"Where else would you go when you have an ax to grind?"
Monday, April 07, 2008
April - no longer the cruelest month