eastplayoffs

NHL Playoff Preview: Eastern Conference Matchups

I love NHL playoff hockey. Best teams versus the best teams. Teams going all out because all the chips are down. Players leaving it all on the ice. Shooting, hitting, saves, scoring, blood, sweat, tears, emotion. And the Eastern Conference is wide open this year.

Even better this year is that I do not think you can positively say that any team that loses in the first round would be the victim of an “upset”. Every team in every division is so close it almost is not fair to you gambling folk out there.

By: Adam Pyde – @Adam_Pyde

So to prepare for the best two months of NHL hockey, why not make predictions? I mean, no one gets these right. Ever. TSN used to have a monkey spin a wheel and it nailed more correct outcomes than the “experts.” And I’m not an expert, nor am I a monkey which leaves me in between somewhere so obviously I know more than people who get paid.

New York Rangers (1st in Metropolitan)
vs
Pittsburgh Penguins (Wildcard 2)

Any playoff series with Sidney Crosby in it will be the highest profile one in the NHL. Are the Rangers smoke and mirrors propped up by elite goaltending? Sorta. Are the Penguins any good? Sorta.

Why New York can win: They have speed to kill. They’re like the epitome of an Eastern Conference team; they don’t play heavy hockey to beat you up, they just play fast hockey to tire you out. Rick Nash is having his best season in years. Their top two centers in Derek’s Stepan and Brassard have fully emerged as top level players. The defence has it’s warts, but Ryan McDonagh, Kevin Klein and Marc Staal are solid. They’re also playing in front of one of the best goaltenders of a generation in Henrik Lundqvist.

Why Pittsburgh can win: When you have the two best centers in the series, and two of the very best on the planet, you’re never really out of it. They’ll get Christian Ehrhoff back to start the series. David Perron, Chris Kunitz, Patrick Hornqvist and Blake Comeau have all shown they can be effective scorers. Despite the slide at the end, the playoffs are a chance at a clean slate and on paper the Penguins are still as good as anyone in the conference.

Pick: Rangers in 5 games
Pittsburgh isn’t bad. Not at all. They’re just leveled by injuries on defence and basically anyone who isn’t their top pairing or on their top line gets absolutely buried by the other team when on the ice. That isn’t the case for the Rangers. They can actually roll more than 2 lines.

To see the full picks, including the Canadiens and Senators series, click here to head on over to Talking Baws

westplayoffs

NHL Playoff Preview: Western Conference Matchups

I love NHL playoff hockey. Best teams versus the best teams. Teams going all out because all the chips are down. Players leaving it all on the ice. Shooting, hitting, saves, scoring, blood, sweat, tears, emotion. And the Western Conference is going to be absolutely brutal this year.

Even better is that I do not think you can positively say that any team that loses in the first round would be the victim of an “upset”. Every team in every division is so close it almost is not fair to you gambling folk out there.

By: Adam Pyde – @Adam_Pyde

So to prepare for the best two months of NHL hockey, why not make predictions? I mean, no one gets these right. Ever. TSN used to have a monkey spin a wheel and it nailed more correct outcomes than the “experts.” And I’m not an expert, nor am I a monkey which leaves me in between somewhere so obviously I know more than people who get paid.

Anaheim Ducks (1st in Pacific)
vs
Winnipeg Jets (Wildcard 2)

Poor Anaheim. You bust your butt all season to win the division to clinch home ice for at least 2 rounds, assuming you make it, and you have to fly all the way to Winnipeg for your first round match up. #travelwoes

Why Anaheim can win: They were the best team in the Pacific this year and it wasn’t necessarily close. They also made a number of smart improvements to their team at the trade deadline with James Wisniewski, Simon Despres, Jiri Sekac and Tomas Fleischmann. Those additions allowed for a whole lot of increased depth to a team that was relying maybe a little too heavily on youth. They play some of the best “big boy” hockey in the NHL and have some of the best center depth among western playoff teams. Winnipeg cannot match their top two centers, Ryans of Getzlaf and Kesler, in terms of ability.

Why Winnipeg can win: There are very few teams in the NHL that can match up and play big boy hockey with the Ducks, but the Jets are one of them. Dustin Byfuglien has the ability to take over a game and a series, and the rest of the Jets’ defence is also filled with behemoths like Tyler Myers and Jacob Trouba. Offensively they are quite deep with 6 different forwards scoring more than 41 points this season. Hot goaltending goes a long way and Ondrej Pavelec closed the year with three straight shutouts. Also, Anaheim’s goal differential was only +7 this year and they were 33-1-7 in one goal games. That makes the Ducks look vulnerable.

Pick: Jets in 7 games
This is the only real “upset” I can see this year. The Jets match up well in terms of size and depth. The only thing holding the Jets back may be goaltending. A lot has been made about the Jets’ disciplinary issues, but since when do they call penalties in the playoffs? It’s going to be that series what has four games go into overtime. The ‘Peg will go absolutely nuts. That’s fun.

To see the full picks, including the Canucks and Flames series, click here to head on over to Talking Baws