Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Worst Playoff Preview in History

Chelios, The American Bad-Ass, Ari Gold, and The Canadian Bad-Ass?

The weather is starting to warm up, baseball is back, and Puxatony Phil is dead. That can only mean one's time for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.  Keeping with tradition here at FRD, I give you the worst playoff preview possible.....

Eastern Conference
Round 1

Boston v. Montreal
The Ambassador Detroit Browne: Predicted Winner:  Boston in 5.  
Flawed Reasoning:  This could be a tougher series for the B's, but I think Montreal is ready to turn it in already.  That and I don't believe any of the Cary Price hype.  Is he even their starting goalie anymore?  

Reverend Woodrow Morris: Predicted Winner: Boston in 4.
Flawed Reasoning: This Montreal team isn't good. Price is a solid goaltender, but in order for him to get hot and steal some games there has to be some semblance of a defense in front of him. Montreal doesn't have that.

Washington v. NYR
D. Browne: Predicted Winner: Washington in 6
Flawed Reasoning:  The Rangers a feisty club, but probably don't have enough to hang here.  

W. Morris: Predicted Winner: Washington in 7
Flawed Reasoning: I agree with the Ambassador here. I see the Rangers winning a few games, but clearly they do not have the talent to keep up with Washington. However, if the Rangers can win one of the first two in DC, I can honestly see them winning this series. Washington is a heavily flawed team yet people fail to realize these flaws because of Ovechkin. Remember, Jose Theodore is the goalie of this team and they rely too heavily on their power play. The idea of facing King Henrik in a long series should scare the shit out of Washington and their fans.

New Jersey v. Carolina
D. Browne: Predicted Winner: Carolina in 7.  
Flawed Reasoning:  NJ is pretty cold right now and Carolina is pretty hot; however, I'm not sure that will manifest itself in this series.  The Devils are a better defensive club, and Brodeur will have the ability to steal some wins, but I see the Hurricanes pulling a small upset here in seven. 

W. Morris: Predicted Winner: Carolina in 6.
Flawed Reasoning: This is a matchup of probably the hottest team in the NHL right now against one of the coldest. Over the last two months or so of the season no one has beaten this Carolina team, let alone four times in seven games. It is also a matchup of the two goalies most likely to get insanely hot and steal a series down the road. Personally, I like Cam Ward to do that over Brodeur. Maybe because Ward hasn't fucked his wife's sister yet. However, I don't think the Hurricanes are going to need Ward to be on acid to win this series. I think they're the better team especially over the second half of the season.

Philly v. Pittsburgh
D. Browne: Predicted Winner:  Pittsburgh in 7
Flawed Reasoning:  I expect this to be a pretty physical series, but ultimately the Pens having too much fire power.  

W. Morris: Predicted Winner: Pittsburgh in 5
Flawed Reasoning: Apart from the Hurricanes, no team has been more impressive than the Penguins. Their performance over the latter part of the season to not only get into the playoffs, but to get home ice advantage in the first round is beyond impressive. One thing that is not impressive though is Philadelphia playing 5 on 5. This team is a power play and nothing else. Teams that rely on special teams do not succeed in the playoffs. The games are tighter and the opportunities just aren't there. Add to that the fact that while Philly is strong with the man advantage, they take more penalties than anyone else in the NHL so against strong teams their dominance 5 on 4 is negligible since they'll spend an equal amount of time killing off dumb penalties. Also, Martin Biron isn't good. He has weird eyes too.

Round 2.
Boston v. Carolina
D. Browne: Predicted Winner: Bruins in 7
Flawed Reasoning: Two evenly matched teams in my opinion, Boston gets the nod because of home ice. 

W. Morris: Predicted Winner: Bruins in 7
Flawed Reasoning: As much as I have liked the way that Carolina has played recently, I just think this Bruins team will be too much for them. Thomas has been unreal this year and should get consideration for MVP in my opinion, but there is no chance he'll finish top 3. I think the only way Carolina wins this series is if they can somehow turn it into a fast paced shootout, but with these two goalies the chances of that happening are pretty remote.

Washington v. Pittsburgh  
D. Browne: Predicted Winner:  Pittsburgh in 7. 
Flawed Reasoning:  The matchup the NHL wants.  I'll give the nod to the Pens here because I am not a believer in the Caps D and think they need another year of experience before they can make the jump.

W. Morris: Predicted Winner: Pittsburgh in 6
Flawed Reasoning: Honestly, I think I'm being generous here giving Washington two wins. The key for this series, and all playoffs long for that matter, for the Penguins is going to be their third line of Matt Cooke, Jordan Staal and Tyler Kennedy. Everyone knows what the Crosby line and Malkin line is going to do for Pittsburgh. Washington has a talented group with Ovechkin's line. However, Washington has no answer for this third line. Hell, no one in the East does. It isn't even so much that this line has been scoring of late, it's how they can totally control the flow of a game. Some of their best shifts this season have been when they spend 1:30 in the offensive zone until Malkin or Crosby can come on and finish the job. This line has been great defensively as well. I wouldn't be surprised to see Bylsma match this line up with Ovechkin every so often to not only give Crosby a chance for a mismatch but also this line would suffocate Washington's top guns. Jordan Staal is going to win a Selke very, very soon. Most importantly, I just don't see how this Capitals team can expect to keep up with Pittsburgh. Ovie is going to get his goals but then what? Washington can't even win this series if they try and make it an up and down shootathon.

Conference Finals 
Boston v. Pittsburgh
D. Browne: Predicted Winner: Pittsburgh in 6.
Flawed Reasoning:  Either team that makes it through to the point will pretty much be dead, so it could easily go either way.  Additionally, I hate picking Pittsburgh and think they are a heavily flaw team, but in this situation they have a little bit more experience and the stars to advance.  

W. Morris: Predicted Winner: Pittsburgh in 7
Flawed Reasoning: Jesus, have we picked the same winners in every series so far? This really is a joke preview. Anyway, this will be an excellent series. I hope this happens. Both teams are strong five on five and in net and have the depth that it takes to win in the playoffs. But ultimately, I really like this Penguins team and they way they have been playing.

Western Conference
Round 1

San Jose v. Anaheim
D. Browne: Predicted Winner: San Jose in 6
Flawed Reasoning:  The Ducks have come on as of late, but the Sharks are too focused this year to choke it away in round one.

W. Morris: Predicted Winner: San Jose in 5
Flawed Reasoning: As much as I have liked the Ducks recently they got the short end of the stick here. This is going to be a hard nosed series, which one would think might play to Anaheim's advantage. Remember how Calgary almost beat San Jose by kicking the shit out of them every night last year? But, this San Jose team is good. Real good. Too much for Anaheim to handle in what turns out to be one of the better first round matchups even though I only see it going 5 games.

Detroit v. Columbus
D. Browne: Predicted Winner: Detroit in 5
Flawed Reasoning:  Detroit has been playing lousy of late, but so has the CBJ.  Steven Mason getting hot here could be scary, but this is ultimately a leaning experience for Columbus, they just don't have the horses yet.  

W. Morris: Predicted Winner: Detroit in 6
Flawed Reasoning:  If Mason decides to turn into Cam Ward circa 2005, Detroit goes home early. Actually, on second thought, this Blue Jackets team is eerily similar to that Hurricanes team that won it all. Just something to watch out for. But, I don't see the Blue Jackets pulling off this upset. As much as I would LOVE to see it. I also don't see this series ending in 5 because I have tickets to game 6 in Columbus and want to use them.

Vancouver v. St Louis
D. Browne: Predicted Winner: Vancouver in 4.
Flawed Reasoning: It's a miracle the Blues are in the playoffs, let alone the 6-seed.  Too much travel here against too good of a team. The Canucks land the only first round sweep.

W. Morris: Predicted Winner: Vancouver in 4.
Flawed Reasoning: The Blues are the great story of the NHL this season. That doesn't win hockey games.

Chicago v. Calgary
D. Browne: Predicted Winner: Calgary in 6
Flawed Reasoning:  Chicago is in a little over it's head in this matchup and better protect home ice if they want to have any chance.  In the end, Calgary has too much firepower in this one.  

W. Morris: Predicted Winner: Chicago in 7
Flawed Reasoning: What a great series this is going to be. If this series took place a week and a half ago, I'd pick Calgary in 6 but they have fallen on hard times. Hell, they've been putting 15 skaters on the ice recently due to salary cap concerns. While that doesn't matter in the free of charge playoffs, I don't think this team is in the right place mentally to win a series. Calgary's first line is mean and Kipper getting hot is not only a legit possibility but probably the death knell for Chicago. I had Calgary going deep into the playoffs a few weeks ago, maybe even winning the West, but the way things have shaken out up there I just can't bring myself to do it any longer.

Round 2
D. Browne: San Jose v. Calgary
Predicted Winner: San Jose in 5
Flawed Reasoning:  Calgary is prone to defensive lapses and that will be deadly against the Sharks.  They just seemed to relaxed to get themselves into trouble this year.  

Detroit v. Vancouver
Predicted Winner: Vancouver in 7
Flawed Reasoning:  Vancouver is a tricky team in that they have a odd mix of talent and experience.  Luongo is the difference here in a back and forth seven-game series.  

W. Morris: San Jose v. Chicago
Predicted Winner: San Jose in 6
Flawed Reasoning: Chicago is good and will be good for a few years to come. Their defense is surprisingly strong and their blue line can move the puck with the best of them. However, the Calgary series is going to take something out of them. Anaheim is going to push San Jose around and try to out muscle them on a daily basis, but I see San Jose responding to that whereas I see Calgary and Chicago just playing balls out, dead tiring,  solid hockey for 7 games. This is the year San Jose breaks through the wall that is the second round.

Detroit v. Vancouver
Predicted Winner: Detroit in 6
Flawed Reasoning: This Red Wings team seriously baffles the shit out of me. The team as a whole has put up almost identical numbers to last year yet their goaltending is so much worse it's unreal. Detroit is immune to mediocre goaltending and it doesn't make any fucking sense. As much as I would like to pick Vancouver here and as good of a case I could make for that happening, Detroit will find a way to overcome the crap storm that is Osklin. 

Conference Finals
D. Browne: San Jose v. Vancouver
Predicted Winner:  San Jose in 5.  
Flawed Reasoning: They were the best team in the NHL for a reason.  Here they benefit from facing a tired Canucks squad.  

W. Morris: San Jose v. Detroit
Predicted Winner: San Jose in 7.
Flawed Reasoning: Another series that I really, really hope happens. If my predictions are right, which they won't be, we are in for a fucking treat with these conference finals. I've been high on this San Jose team all year long and I'm not going to jump off the bandwagon now. Not only do the Sharks tell Ron Wilson to suck it, but they win the West while doing it.

Stanley Cup Finals
San Jose v. Pittsburgh
D. Browne: Predicted Winner: San Jose in 4
Flawed Reasoning:  The Sharks are the most complete team in the NHL and will be a tough matchup for the Pens, assuming they don't self-destruct.  I can see the Pens being dead at this point because of their battle to get out of the east combined with their second half push, leaving them on the losing side of the finals again. 

W. Morris: Predicted Winner: Pittsburgh in 6
Flawed Reasoning: As much as I love this Sharks team, I love this Penguins team even more. Pens win the cup and I get to shit in the mouths of at least 6 people. 

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