With the NHL playoffs kicking off tonight, I asked the many members of Days of Y’Orr to give me playoff predictions. Participating today is Jon, Pizz, Pete Blackburn – our super hunky media guy; new writers Chip and Marshall and then myself. Some gave quick one-liners, some gave paragraphs. This morning we looked at the Western Conference.
You can join our NHL Playoff Bracket Challenge. I believe picks are open until puck drop tonight.
Boston Bruins vs Detroit Red Wings
Pete: Bruins in 6. The Bruins are obviously the better team here, but I’m hesitant to count Detroit out because of experience, coaching & the fact that the B’s always seem to make an adventure out of the first round. Also, Gustav Nyquist is a filthy animal.
Pizz: Bruins in 7. The Red Wings were the one team I did not want to face in the first round, yet as always, the Hockey Gods are cruel mistresses. The Wings match up well against the Bruins, and although I have every confidence that the Bruins can win, anyone who disregards the Red Wings as a 8th seed team in terms of skill could be in for a rude awakening. If there was ever a such thing as a “trap series” this is it.
Chip: Bruins in 7. IF Boston wins this series, it’s not going to be easy. In my opinion, the Red Wings are still considered a Western team along the same lines of Chicago. Does that mean that the Wings have the same amount of talent as Chicago? No. But they ARE very fast. Because of that factor, the B’s are going to have their hands full. Throw in the fact that the Red Wings can turn up the physical play when it counts (see their series against the Black Hawks last year), and this series won’t be easy for the winners of the President’s Trophy.
Marshall: Bruins in 6. Yes, the Wings won the regular season series. But the biggest reason for Detroit’s struggles this year was the giant list of injuries they racked up while playing against more physical Eastern Conference teams. How do you think that’s gonna go when they’re playing the Bruins every other night?
Save yourself, Zetterberg. Not even worth it.
Jon: Bruins in 5.
WHY THE BRUINS WILL WIN
Pavel Datsyuk, a player who is criminally under rated for some stupid reason, is playing hurt. The Red Wings are without Zetterberg. And eventually ole Nicky Kronwall will do one of his illegal leaping hits and the Bruins will get pissed and crush the Red Wings like they did to Vancouver. And everyone always says one of Detroit’s advantages over other teams is their experience. Bullshit. They don’t have that advantage over the Bruins. The Red Wings have had a lot of roster turnover since their last Cup run and are facing a Bruins team that has been to two of the last three Finals.
WHY THE BRUINS COULD LOSE
The Red Wings are a much more patient team than the Bruins. They don’t necessarily attack in the offensive zone as much as they wait for teams to make mistakes and then make them pay 90% of the time. If the Bruins think for a second a beat up Detroit team is just going to roll over and die then the Bruins have already lost mentally. And then there’s Nyquist. He seems to be turning into one of those players that can turn a series by himself. Hopefully he forgets to show up. And Jimmy Howard isn’t an elite goalie. He’s not even a great goalie. He’s an average goalie. And we all know the Bruins actually score more against great goalies than against back–ups or average goalies. And Mike Babcock is one crafty mother fucka. And don’t give me the “Red Wings beat them three times in the regular season” bullshit as a reason the Red Wings could win. Regular season is worthless now.
Pez: Bruins in 6. I wrote and erased my answer about four times. I’m hesitant to pick Boston here on one fact alone:
Tuukka Rask sucks vs the Detroit Red Wings. Career vs the Red Wings, Rask is 1-4-1 with a .868 SV% and a GAA over 3. OVER. 3.
It is clearly his worst career numbers versus one team with Anaheim being a close second (due to the amount of games played). It terrifies me. However, I think Boston can overcome whatever Detroit throws at them. While Datsyuk is the best player on the ice for either team, Detroit is missing Zetterberg (who may be back for a Game 7) and they’ve had issues in net all season.
I wish I could be more confident in my pick of the Bruins, but Rask’s stats. Woof.
Pittsburgh Penguins vs Columbus Blue Jackets
Pete: Penguins in 4. If the Penguins lose a game, it’s probably going to be Marc-Andre Fleury’s fault.
Pizz: Penguins in 5. I want Columbus to win, but that’s just a tall glass of nope juice.
Chip: Shittsburgh in 5 (Bobrovsky steals a game). The Penguins got lucky with how the bottom of the playoff standings shook out. Helped in part by the shoddy play of their own turd of a goalie, the rat looking Marc Andre Fleury, they didn’t look good late. But with the return of Kris Letang to the already prolific Pens power play (try saying that 10x fast), I don’t see Columbus competing.
Marshall: Blue Jackets in 7.
Marc-Andre Fleury in the Playoffs?
Jon: Penguins in 4.
WHY THE PENGUINS WILL WIN
Sure, the Penguins have been playoff choke artists that last few years, but not enough to hand Columbus a series. Unless Bobrovsky puts up 2011 Tim Thomas like numbers, Columbus is gone. Seriously, even without Malkin the Pens win. Crosby could beat Columbus by himself.
WHY THE PENGUINS COULD LOSE
They won’t. It’s Columbus. They’re not ready for the big time yet. Although there is the Fleury factor…..
Pez: Penguins in 4. NEXT.
Tampa Bay Lightning vs Montreal Canadiens
Pete: Canadiens in 7. I think this is going to be one of the better series of the first round. If/when Ben Bishop comes back is obviously huge for the Lightning, but Lindback has come up big for TBL since Big Ben went down. Pulling for MTL in hopes of a B’s-Habs ECSF, though.
Pizz: Lightning in 6. Puns in 7. The shocking loss of St. Louis almost made me count the Lightning out of this series. Looking again, the Lightning can do what the Canadiens can do, but in some ways a little better. While one player doesn’t decide a series, Stamkos is an offensive dynamo that has the potential to give his team the competitive spark they may need to win. I’m trying to keep myself grounded, but if the Lightning can weather the storm without Bishop, they could be charging towards the semifinals.
Chip: Canadiens in 5. This series will depend on the health of Tampa’s key players. Ben Bishop has been ruled out for Game 1 with no set return. If he can’t play, I don’t see Montreal having much of an issue taking care of the overachieving Lightning.
Marshall: Canadiens in 7. Anders Lindback starting Game 1. If Ben Bishop comes back, Tampa’s got a fighting chance. I want so badly to see Stamkos succeed, but I don’t see it happening.
Jon: Lightning in 7.
WHY THE LIGHTNING WILL WIN
My prediction is dependent on Tampa Bay getting Ben Bishop back. If Bishop is out the Lighting will lose in two because Anders Lindback is a pile of trash. So why do I think the Lightning take this if Bishop is healthy? They have the speed to match up with Montreal, but have a bit more size and grit. While P.K. Subban is an incredible talent, he’s also ridiculously immature. You know multiple times he’s going to do something stupid and Stamkos will drill a few power play goals past Price. Stamkos and his crew of young, but versatile, forwards will over match a Habs team that seems to need a little something extra to be a real contender. Oh, and that chain smoker Carey Price hasn’t proven he can handle the pressure of the playoffs. Don’t give me that “he won an Olympic gold” stuff. Canada’s defense was INSANE and Price barely had to do anything. M.A. Fleury could’ve won behind that defense.
WHY THE LIGHTNING COULD LOSE
Montreal’s power play. You know there’s going to be a handful of iffy calls against the Lightning up in Montreal and the Habs power play has been lethal. A guy like Gudas could get carried away too and hand a couple power plays to Montreal. Max Pacioretty is a goal machine. Not Stamkos level, but he’s gooood.
Pez: LeBoos in 6. I think the loss of Marty St. Louis will be bigger for Tampa than originally thought. Even with Ben Bishop practicing, I’m not sure how effective he can be if/when he does play. Trust me, the thought of Montreal having any playoff success makes me want to weep until my tear ducts dry up. I just think that Montreal is a better hockey team than Tampa. Extra Skater’s fenwick and corsi totals tell me a different story, especially regarding possession, but there’s something about the aura of the Canadiens I can’t shake.
New York Rangers vs Philadelphia Flyers
Pete: Rangers in 7. Reeeeally looking forward to this series and fully expecting it to be a bloodbath to the very end. Even though I’m usually the guy screaming “LUNDQVIST IS OVERRATED” goaltending gives the Rangers the advantage here.
Pizz: Rangers in 5. The Rangers are somewhat of an underrated team in these playoffs, they have solid goaltending with Lundqvist and the POTENTIAL to put up a lot of points. I emphasize potential because I am not confident that they will. That being said, any offensive struggles they have will be made up for by Philly, who will once again have a goaltender collapse.
Chip: Flyers in 6. Ahhhh, yes. An old Patrick Division rivalry! Much has been said about the physicality expected for this series, and it’s a good bet that both teams will be prepared to battle. The Flyers have turned their season around ever since the Peter Laviolette firing, and I expect that improved play to show in the playoffs, as well. In spite of their shortcomings on D, the Flyers will take this series.
Marshall: Flyers in 6. I don’t care if Philly has Steve Mason in net, Rangers couldn’t score with Lindsay Lohan at an open bar (probably shouldn’t have let Aaron Voros go.) Henrik Lundqvist – Torts’ suffocating defensive system – pregnancy body pillows for leg pads + Claude Giroux’s playoff numbers (21/34/55 in 50 games) = Flyers in 6.
Jon: NHL fans win…and Rangers in 7.
These two teams are literally going to beat the shit out of each other. Whoever wins is going to be so destroyed for the second round.
WHY THE RANGERS WILL WIN
I like Philly’s overall offensive weapons better (hello Claude Giroux) but any team sporting a goaltending tandem of Steve Mason and Ray Emery isn’t going past the first round unless they change this series to a best of seven boxing match. And though St. Louis was invisible for much of his post trade deadline experience, he’s got a tiny chip on his tiny little shoulder. You know he wants to win and hope to somehow meet the Lightning in a later round.
WHY THE RANGERS COULD LOSE.
Someone hits Henrik Lundqvist in the head and he thinks he’s Steve Mason.
Pez: Flyers in 7. Torts philosophy of “packing it in” now only happens in Vancouver between October and early April. Hank wasn’t really Hank this season. He finished the regular season 27th overall in save percent and 21st in GAA. Steve Mason wasn’t far behind him. You can look at the name “Steve Mason” and laugh it off because NBC doesn’t have the Henrection it does for Lundqvist but Mason will turn a few heads. The other factor? Philly’s Gingah Ninja in Claude Giroux. His playoff totals are disgusting, as Marshall pointed out earlier.
This might be the closest series in the Eastern Conference based on talent and not irrational fear like the Boston/Detroit one.