Since it is a yearly occurrence for the West to have 13 teams in the playoff race and two team at least 20 points out of eighth, I struggled to find a good balance of picks this season. I made a bold choice with the Kings last year. While I don’t have them coming out of the West, I have made a similarly bold statement
I was 50% with my second round picks, that leaves me at 8/12 for the playoffs thus far. The second round wasn’t nearly the epic that came with the first eight series. However, the Western Conference managed to provide a few decent moments before the conference semi-finals wrapped up. Otherwise, two sweeps left most wanting more out East.
#5 Tampa Bay Lightning defeat #1 Washington Capitals 4-0
I was fairly certain that Dwayne Roloson and the Lightning weren’t capable of continuing their magic from the first round. However, Washington reverted back to form from early in the season. Alex Ovechkin was a ghost and Michael Neuvirth was average. Tampa Bay has found scoring from their big guns in addition to their role players, namely Sean Bergenheim. They face a steep climb against the Bruins, probably the most physical team in the 2011 Playoffs. Turning point: Tampa’s 3-2 overtime win in game two. Took first two games in Washington. MVP: Sean Bergenheim – 4 goals, has 7+1 through 11 playoff games thus far. Continue reading
To say the first round of the 2011 Stanley Cup playoffs were highly entertaining would be a massive understatement.
Half of the series went to a game seven and three of the four deciding games were spectacular. The one exception was the 5-2 drubbing the Flyers put on the Sabres. The other four series were equally entertaining. I would say the Caps 4-1 triumph and Detroit’s sweep of the Desert Dogs were the only ho-hum parts of the first round.
#1 Washington Capitals defeat #8 New York Rangers 4-1
I had the Caps winning in five, which really is no great stretch of a prediction. This could have shaped up to be a much different series had Marian Gaborik not gift-wrapped the game four overtime goal for Jason Chimera. The Capitals improved defense was strong as was Michael Neuvirth. Washington scored timely goals and Henrik Lundqvist wasn’t enough to counter the superior match up. Turning point: Marian Gaborik’s gaffe leads to OT winning goal to give Washington a 3-1 series lead. MVP: Michael Neuvirth – 4-1, 1.38 GAA, .946 SV% Continue reading
After going just about o’fer on my regular season predictions, here is a look at who I think will advance in the first round of the NHL Playoffs.
1. Washington Capitals vs. 8. New York Rangers
This is an interesting series. If Ryan Callahan was healthy and the Rangers had better scoring depth they could really give the Caps a run. However, they don’t have those two things. The Rangers have Henrik Lundqvist and block a lot of shots. It ends there. The Caps play good defense and can score in bunches. Their goaltending is quite suspect but Alex Ovechkin has been heating up over the last half of the season. Plus, Jason Arnott and Scott Hannan were two fantastic acquisitions by George McPhee. Caps in five.
A prognosticator I am not. My mock NFL Draft senior year was about 15% correct. When I went about predicting the NHL’s playoff picture back in October, I didn’t have high hopes. Let us see how 2ITB did:
Prediction – 1. WAS, 2. PIT, 3. BOS, 4. NJD, 5. BUF, 6. OTT, 7. MTL, 8. PHI, 9. NYR, 10. CAR, 11. TOR, 12. TBL, 13. NYI, 14. ATL, 15. FLA
Actual – 1. WAS, 2. PHI, 3. BOS, 4. PIT, 5. TBL, 6. MTL, 7. BUF, 8. NYR, 9. CAR, 10. TOR, 11. NJD, 12. ATL, 13. OTT, 14. NYI, 15. FLA
So I was a bit off in the middle. Not too many people would have bet on that epic collapse by New Jersey and I, admittedly put far too much stock in Brian Elliott and Pascal Leclaire. Philadelphia overachieved (according to my original calculation) and I vastly underestimated Tampa Bay.
Washington was a pretty easy choice to make, as was keeping Atlanta, Florida and the Islanders at the bottom. Otherwise it was a hodgepodge of close calls and near misses.
Prediction – 1. LA, 2. VAN, 3. CHI, 4. SJ, 5. DET, 6. NSH, 7. ANA, 8. CGY, 9. COL, 10. PHX, 11. STL, 12. DAL, 13. MIN, 14. CBJ, 15. EDM
Actual – 1. VAN, 2. SJ, 3. DET, 4. ANA, 5. NSH, 6. PHX, 7. LA, 8. CHI, 9. DAL, 10. CGY, 11. STL, 12. MIN, 13. CBJ, 14. COL, 15. EDM
Since the West is such a crap shoot it would have been pretty hard to predict either way. I gave LA too much credit and it turns out the Hawks didn’t have close to enough depth to compete at the level they did last year.
My biggest oversight was with Colorado at nine, turns out they really stink. The Western playoff picture is extremely interesting this season, with the amount of parity out there it isn’t a stretch to say that any team can advance and any team could have finished two to four places higher.
The Buffalo Sabres placed Craig Rivet on waivers this morning. I learned the info via Bob McKenzie’s twitter account. In addition to Rivet, former Sabre Ales Kotalik was waived by Calgary along with Nik Zherdev (PHI) and Marek Svatos (NSH).
Kind of crazy to see Svatos waived. The Preds poached the winger from St. Louis when they signed him out of the KHL earlier in the winter.
It is about time that Rivet was given some sort of out. He has been stuck in the press box for quite some time, he deserved better than the fate he was receiving.
I wonder what will come of the Rivet situation? Do they send him to the AHL? Or are they confident a team like Montreal, Vancouver or Toronto will claim him? Either way, the next 24 hours could be interesting to watch.
The Nashville Predators made some very interesting moves this afternoon.
First, they shipped UFA to-be Dan Hamhuis to the Philadelphia Flyers for a conditional pick in 2011 and Ryan Parent. Secondly, they sent captain Jason Arnott to the New Jeresey Devils in exchange for winger Matt Halischuk and a second-round pick in 2011. Lastly, they resigned defenseman Francois Bouillon to a two-year $2.7 million contract.
So, in one afternoon, the Predators traded away two major players and reupped one 4th/5th defenseman.