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 will look at the Western Conference and this afternoon, a look at the Eastern.
You can join our NHL Playoff Bracket Challenge. I believe picks are open until puck drop tonight.
Anaheim Ducks vs Dallas Stars
Pete: Ducks in 5. Pretty torn about this series. On one hand, I’d love to see Seguin & Timmy pull the upset for Raptor Jesus. On the other hand, Teemu forever. I’m just not sure how much security the Stars have to set up outside Seguin’s hotel room, so advantage Ducks.
Pizz: Ducks in 6. I don’t necessarily think the Stars will win, but I am not counting them out. Depth plays a big role in the playoffs, and I have more confidence in the Duck’s depth than the Stars, but Lehtonen could surprise us all and steal the series. For Dallas’ sake, maybe they should lock Seguin’s door from the outside.
Chip: Anaheim in 6. Lindy Ruff deserves credit for getting the Stars into the playoffs. And while the Stars have some talent and the better starting netminder, they don’t have the depth in either the forward or defensemen groups. Also, this isn’t Anaheim’s first rodeo. Still, I expect a competitive series.
Marshall: Ducks in 6. TEEMU FOREVER!!!1!!one!
Jon: Ducks in 6.
WHY THE DUCKS WILL WIN
I think the Stars will give the Ducks a lot more trouble than most expect, but I don’t think they are quite ready for a playoff run. The Ducks are deeper as a team and their leaders (Getzlaf, Perry and Selanne) have already won a Cup together. Let’s say each team’s top line is held in check… the Stars don’t have enough secondary scoring to beat the Ducks. Plus, the Ducks will die on the ice trying to give Selanne one more Cup.
WHY THE DUCKS COULD LOSE
Seguin and Benn tag team. If you need a further explanation, you’re a dummy. And Kari Lehtonen is a much, MUCH better goalie than Hiller or Andersen. Hiller’s confidence is shot and Andersen might be hurting. Gibson got a shutout in his once appearance for the Ducks and may be their goalie of the future, but this is the playoffs.
Pez: Anaheim in 4. Sweep city in Dallas, unfortunately. I’m probably the biggest Seguin fanboy on this blog. I predicted he’d score 40+ goals this season. I think the top line of Benn, Seguin and Nichushkin will be good for a long, long time. Here’s the thing – Dallas doesn’t really have a defense. They’re middle of the pack in goals allowed per game (17th – 2.72). Their penalty kill is terrible (21st) and they are playing an Anaheim team that has the second highest 5v5 goal ratio and they lead the league in goals per game. Honestly, I’d love to see Teemu Selanne go home packing in round one and listen to the cries in Boston as Seguin advances, but I don’t see it happening.
Colorado Avalanche vs Minnesota Wild
Pete: Avalanche in 6. I’m interested to find out if the Avs are for real and this will a tough test for them in the opening round, especially if Matt Duchene is out the entire series.
Pizz: Avalanche in 4. The Avalanche are going to run wild on Minnesota (see what I did there?)
Chip: Minnesota in 7. I’ve been down on Colorado all year. I never expected them to continue their early season success, yet they did. I expected them not to carry their strong play into 2014, yet they did. I thought they would cool off down the stretch, but they enter the playoffs as perhaps the hottest team in the league. But dammit…I’m still holding true to my thought that this team is over-matched. While they’ve essentially looked like the bizarro version of the Edmonton Oilers this year (you know…actually successful), I expect them to have a rude awakening at the hands of the Wild. Because I have to be right sooner or later. Right?!
Marshall: Avs in 5. Does anyone know who’s starting in net for Minnesota? Does Mike Yeo? .
Jon: Avs in 5.
WHY THE AVS WILL WIN
I am still not convinced the Avs are as good as they seem to be. Varlamov had a career year and a few players who weren’t expected to contribute this soon certainly stepped up. And how about that Erik Johnson? His play this year has been what people expected of him the year he got drafted. So if I think the Avs aren’t quite as good as they seem, why am I picking them?
Swagger. I fucking HATE that word, but the Avs have it thanks to Patrick Roy. He’s got them playing as a team instead of as individuals like last year and Varlamov has big game ability if he focuses. Plus Minnesota’s goaltending is a mess. If Josh Harding was playing this would be a different story because he’s a fucking beast but the Wild might be the one team in these playoffs who have a worse goalie tandem than the Flyers
WHY THE AVS COULD LOSE
If Duchene can’t come back for this series that’s a huge blow to Colorado, but honestly, I just don’t see the Wild winning this series. Moulson was a great addition to provide extra scoring but their goaltending is such a mess. Unless Parise goes nuts and Backstrom stops being a complete sieve, this series is over quick.
Pez: Colorado in 6. I think Colorado is legit and I think it is because of Semyon Varlamov. Varlamov played in 63 games this year and is sporting a .927 SV%. That’s better than Carey Price, Ben Bishop and anyone else you believe could be a Vezina Trophy candidate not named Tuukka Rask. Varlamov has also faced the highest amount of shots in the NHL – the only goalie to see over 2,000 this season (2,013 total).
If there’s a reason why Colorado could lose, it would be because Matt Duchene is watching from the press box chewing on chicken fingers. Losing Duchene would be a huge blow to Colorado – a team that is already in the basement in both corsi (27%) and fenwick (27%). With all that said – they are facing a Wild team with a huge question mark in goal. If Bryzgalov is the starter – he doesn’t have the greatest post season track record (17-19, .908 SV%, 2.81 GAA).
St. Louis Blues vs Chicago Blackhawks
Pete: Blackhawks in 7. Holy shit, this one is going to be fuuuuun.
Pizz: Blackhawks in 7. If this were a month ago, I’d probably pick the Blues, but they got some bad injuries at the wrong time, and Chicago has way too much skill and experience. Blackhawks are a rare team that is full of young veterans that know what it takes to make a deep playoff run.
Chip: Blackhawks in 7. This would have been THE series to watch if both teams hadn’t shit the bed entering the final playoff push. A natural rivalry chalk full of star players, the winner of this series will be whoever’s injured players (Toews and Kane or Backes and Oshie) are able to return successfully and have an impact. Ryan Miller might not have had a tremendous amount of playoff experience in Buffalo, but he’s still a much better goalie than Corey Crawford. In the end, though, Chicago’s experience wins out.
Marshall: Blackhawks in 6. Ryan Miller and the Blues limped their way to the finish line, losing their last 6 games, and only scored 5 goals in that span. Their injury report is longer than War and Peace, with huge question marks surrounding David Backes, TJ Oshie, and more. Meanwhile, Toews and Kane are coming back just in time. Get ready to see another deep run by Chicago. Hawks in 6
Jon: Blues in 7
WHY THE BLUES WILL WIN
I would be way more excited for this series if both teams were healthy. My head is SCREAMING at me to pick Chicago but for some reason I’m picking the Blues. The logical side of my brain just stormed off Homer Simpson style. As much as I hate that whiny emo bitch Ryan Miller I can see him getting up for his first meaningful games in years.
With Kane’s status up in the air and Toews possibly not being at 100%, I think the Blues insanely good defense can bottle up Chicago’s secondary scoring. St. Louis’ defense is one of the few in the league that might be better overall than Chicago. Plus I’m a David Backes fan boy and I really want to see him win (and actually play…FUCK YOU INJURY BUG). Both teams are stingy on D, but I think the Blues D might have just a little more Jacobs in them.
I also think Crawford is incredibly over rated. Chicago’s defense provides him infinite bail outs.
WHY THE BLUES COULD LOSE
The obvious reason: EXPERIENCE. Chicago has been there, done that twice in the past four years and their core is still young and hungry. The Blues are a team that has been on the cusp of greatness the past few seasons. The Blackshawks have achieved greatness and are still up on that pedestal. Chicago’s knows how to win in the playoffs. They just do. As much as I want to find holes in their games, their just really aren’t many. It wasn’t just injuries that doomed the Bruins in the Finals last year. Chicago is literally built for the playoffs.
Pez: Blackhawks in 7. St. Louis has some pretty shitty injuries to try and overcome. Chicago has some pretty shitty injuries to try and overcome. Honestly, this might be the most even series in the first round. Here’s where it all boils down for me: goaltending.
Corey Crawford is a Stanley Cup Champion and while his performance in the Finals last year wasn’t fantastic – it wasn’t terrible either. What has Ryan Miller done in the NHL playoffs – especially recently? The answer is nothing. In 2005-2006 and 2006-2007 he played more than 16 games. Other than that? Two first round exits in 2009-2010 and 2010-2011. He hasn’t sniffed the playoffs since. Ryan Miller’s last big game was blowing it in the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.
San Jose Sharks vs Los Angeles Kings
Pete: LA in 7. I think people are sleeping on San Jose because of their bad playoff track record, but I also think the Kings are built for a strong playoff run again this year. Home ice advantage was huuuuuge in the series between these two last year, and the Sharks have it this time around. Still, gut feeling says Kings again.
Pizz: LA in 6. Oh Sharks, one of the NHL playoffs’ greatest jokes. Every year looks like it could be “their year” only to have it snatched away. Sorry, San Jose, but your Stanley Cup is in another castle.
Chip: LA in 6. With all due respect to Boston-Detroit, Philly-NY, and Chicago-St. Louis, I think this is the series I’m most looking forward to. The Kings are one of the best defensive teams in the game, have won the Cup recently, and feature a proven playoff winner with Jonathan Quick in net. Antti Niemi, even with his Cup win from the Blackhawks, doesn’t inspire the same fear that Quick does.
Marshall: LA in 5. On paper, this should be the most even matchup. They’re both among the top puck possession teams with great Stanley Cup winning goalies and serious firepower. On ice, the Kings are going to slaughter the Sharks. San Jose is going in with way too much emotion, citing the whole revenge for Tomas Hertl factor. You foolish fools. You’re playing right into Dustin Brown’s blood-stained hands, he’s already under your skin and the puck hasn’t even dropped yet. Oh, and that Anze Kopitar guy? Yeah, he’s pretty good.
Jon: Kings in 7
WHY THE KINGS WILL WIN
Of all years to pick the Sharks to FINALLY break through and win the Cup, it would be this year but I just can’t. Quick was so-so in the regular season but this kid is a playoff BEAST. He is the David Krejci of goalies: great in the regular season but you always want to see more because you just feel like he has another gear…then the playoffs hit and you’re like yup never mind what you do in the regular season, you’re destroying teams now.
The Sharks also seem to have a mini goalie controversy for some dumb reason too. You HAVE to start Niemi but even then the Kings still have the edge. Pavelski has been tearing the league apart but a quick glance at his stats shows that his shooting percentage this year is well over his career average. Though Pavelski has been a playoff machine in the past so it’s a crap shoot.
I know the Sharks have a few different parts now, but to me this is a team that if their core was going to win the Cup, it would have already. I don’t see the Sharks getting by a Kings team whose hearts three sizes each playoff round. And I just have a feeling that Niemi is going to blow this series for the Sharks.
WHY THE KINGS COULD LOSE
Like I said above, the Sharks are more loaded this year than previous years and yes I am well aware I contradict myself by saying if the Sharks core was going to win they would have and then saying they are more loaded but their extra weapons aren’t playoff proven. Hertl had a great start to the season but his sample size was very small due to his injury. If the Sharks had drawn anyone but the Kings in the first round I probably would’ve picked them but I just think LA is overall too much for them.
Pez: Sharks in 7. I know that advanced statistics tell me that Los Angeles is one of the best teams in the NHL. They harbor possession like it is East African sex trafficking. Still, there’s something about San Jose that I just can’t say no to this year? Maybe it was their tremendous start that only got slightly derailed by Tomas Hertle getting hurt. I mean, San Jose is third in the NHL in corsi % and first in fenwick so it’s not like the Sharks are a top team hanging at the bottom of advanced stats city like Colorado.
I don’t know if I can buy playoff history anymore. You know who has a sparkling playoff history? The Montreal Canadiens but the past doesn’t mean shit. I think you’re going to see a San Jose team looking to avenge their 4-3 series loss to LA last year.