On to game seven

When I said Detroit would take San Jose in seven games I envisioned a back and forth series, not a wild three-game comeback by the Winged Wheel.

The Sharks were 16 minutes away from locking up the series in game six last night. Funny, the Sabres were about that far away in game six as well. No matter, the Red Wings scored three unanswered goals and sent the series back to the Golden State for a seventh game. The Sharks also had a pair of two goal leads erased on Sunday, at home, in game five. Continue reading

2ITB second round predictions

I was a tidy 6/8 with my first round selections in the 2011 Stanly Cup Playoffs. Of course, that means I will go o’fer in round two but that won’t keep me from taking a stab at it anyway.

EASTERN CONFERENCE

#1 Washington Capitals vs. #5 Tampa Bay Lightning

This could be an interesting series. The knee-jerk choice is Washington. They can score almost at will and they did a good job keeping a defensive-minded team, with a good goalie, at bay in round one. The Caps also got strong goaltending, something many had questioned. Tampa, on the other hand, took a while to wake up. They fell behind Pittsburgh 3-1 before igniting their offense a bit and then riding Dwayne Roloson into the second round. It is Roloson’s pair of shutouts against Washington that intrigues me. Also his flawless elimination game record (6-0). If Roloson continues the way he is playing, Tampa will be dangerous. I am willing to go against that, I like Washington’s new-look defensive game and their ability to fill the net. Caps in six. Continue reading

Stanley Cup Playoffs: Round one recap

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.

Eastern Conference

#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

2ITB first-round predictions

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.

East

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.

Continue reading

Looking back at my conference predictions

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:

East

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.

West

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.