My favorite part of the year has arrived. I love the
Stanley Cup Playoffs. There are three main reasons I
enjoy them so much:
1. The only playoffs with a name. No other sport
dares name their playoffs. They are just the playoffs.
The Stanley Cup Playoffs are an event, a series of games
in which men leave blood sweat and tears on the ice just
so they can skate around like kids kissing and hugging
Lord Stanley’s Cup.
2. Playoff beards. There is no other sport where men
subject themselves to upset wives who are disgusted with
them for two months with the excuse “all the other guys
are doing it.” (even though I thought Brett Favre went a
little playoff beard last year) If I don’t shave for three
days my wife won’t sit next to me on the couch. Love the
3. The jerseys. We’ll get into this in my breakdowns
of the series’, but there is no other sport that has the
majesty, elegance and toughness of the hockey sweater.
(Unless you’re the Atlanta Thrashers, there is a reason
you don’t ever make the playoffs, guys).
Everyone raves about how much they love the last week of
March and the first week of April in sports. The Final
Four, Opening Day, the Masters. I can’t wait for those
days to be over and the Stanley Cup Playoffs to start.
(In an effort of full disclosure I watched every second of
the Final Four and National Championship game, watched
three opening day baseball games, and probably 30 hours of
the Masters. I love those events. I celebrate Opening
Day like the holiest of holidays. (I woke up my daughter
that day with the “Charge” chant.) I won the KTAR Bracket
Challenge because of Duke. (Sorry to dethrone you Adam
Green, but my daughter thanks everyone for the new car
seat and swim suits.) And the Masters is on my Sports
Bucket List. (I’ll go some year where I don’t have to
worry about adult film stars inhabiting the local
gentlemen’s clubs.) Even with all that said I am still
waiting for those events to pass so I can enjoy the best
two months of any sport. Only because the World Cup lasts
just a month.)
Here is my standard issue playoff break down (after one
game has been played in each series. It’s easier to
predict that way. I don’t know why everyone does it
before the series starts; that is way too hard.)
(4) Coyotes v. (5) Red Wings
The Coyotes took Game 1 of this series doing what they
didn’t do all year. Scoring on the Power Play. Brilliant
move by head coach Dave Tippett to make everyone think you
stink on the power play all season, so when the playoffs
come you can dominate. But in all seriousness the ‘Yotes
showed the tough aggressive play along with good goal
tending that landed them a franchise record 107 points and
the number four seed. Everyone was scared of the Wings
coming into the series and rightfully so. Detroit was
Natalie Portman hot coming into the playoffs; putting
together the best record in the West since the Olympic
Break. But Detroit’s major flaw is two fold. So I guess
it is major flaws. One, they have a rookie goaltender,
Jimmy Howard who, despite the close name, does not also
play for the USA National team or Everton FC in the
English Premier league, has been very good but I’m pretty
sure it’s a rule that rookie goaltenders are always in
fact playing in their first Stanley Cup Playoffs. Two,
they are healthy but not in game shape yet. Too many key
players came back late in the season and won’t have the
legs to get through the series.
Straight Logic Prediction: The Maricopa County
Coyotes (has a nice ring to it) win in 6. After Game 1,
I’m pretty sure Shane Doan will play every shift in Game 6
to win the series.
Jersey Prediction: That is right Jersey Prediction!
The Playoffs don’t always come down to who’s better but
who looks better. This one goes to the Red Wings in 5 (it
would have been a sweep but they already lost a game). I
hate the Red Wings but they have a sweet jersey. Classic
Hockey stripes along with a logo that hasn’t changed in
almost a 100 years. Sorry Phoenicians but the ‘Yotes
jersey’s are better than they were, but not quite there
yet. (I’m pretending the Coyotes’ third jersey doesn’t
exist, because it shouldn’t.)
(1) Sharks v. (8) Avalanche
The Avalanche got a lucky bounce off of former ‘Lanche Rob
Blake’s skate with fifty seconds to go to win Game 1.
While I love the talent on the Colorado team I just think
the Sharks have too many scorers, led by Patrick Marleau
and Danny Heatley, and in my opinion the third best player
in the league Joe Thorton. This should be great
experience for the likes of Chris Stewart, Paul Stastny,
and Matt Duchene.
Straight Logic Prediction: Sharks in 6, barely.
Jersey Prediction: This is a tough one. Both are
solid jerseys with new era designs, but I’m going to have
to go with the Sharks. The Avalanche have a lack of
piping on the sleeve that bothers me. And quite frankly
San Jose’s logo scares me. I don’t like sharks. If a
puck can ride down an Avalanche why can’t I survive.
Sharks in 6.
(3) Canucks v. (6) Kings
This game is exactly why I love the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Two teams that haven’t received a lot of pub this year
step out on the ice and just play a crazy game of hockey.
I love the youth of the Kings. Jack Johnson can not only
serenade the ladies with his acoustic guitar but he plays
a killer blue line. Quick is a great goalie and will
should win a Vesina trophy at some point in his career.
The Canucks have some brothers however that can completely
take over a playoff series. I’ve always enjoyed the
brother’s aspect in sports. Rarely do you get the
brothers on the same team, on the same line. It’s almost
unfair. They’ve been playing together since the womb,
like they don’t know what the other is thinking.
Straight Logic Prediction: Canucks in 7. If I’m
the Canucks I draft a pair of twins every single year and
have one set on each line. How can this fail. Plus
Roberto Louongo is too good and has already won an Olympic
Gold medal for his country.
(I also love the Canucks gave Louongo the ‘C’ this year.
You never see goalies get the ‘C’. Partially because it’s
the Capitan’s job to argue calls with the ref and that is
hard when you’re in goal, but I love it. Martin Broduer
isn’t even a Capitan. Shows how much the Canucks trust
Louongo. Goalies are traditionally great leaders, all
though they are all a little off in the head. Anyone who
thinks ‘sure shoot vulcanized rubber at me as hard as you
can so I can let it bounce off my body’ has a few nuts
Jersey Prediction: This one is tough, I hate the
whale, but the style of the jersey the shoulder patch and
the color scheme are all great for Vancouver. The Kings
have a good logo, and basic jersey design. I’m going to
have to go with Vancouver in 6 mostly based on the color
scheme. I hate purple in jerseys.
(2) Blackhawks v. (7) Predators
If you like hockey at all you have to love this Blackhawks
team. They are young, they are talented and they are fun
to watch. Three key stars for Chicago, Patrick Kane,
Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith will shine and show
everyone why Chicago will be a force for the next 10
years. (All of these guys have great hockey names as
well. Duncan Keith is my favorite. You have to love some
quality two first names for a name situation.) Nashville
is an interesting mix of veterans and some young players.
They don’t score a ton, which as I see it is normally not
Straight Logic Prediction: Blackhawks in 4. Give
me some credit the series hasn’t started yet and I’m still
going with the sweep! The Preds just don’t have enough
this year, not that many teams meeting Chicago in the
first round would stand much of a chance.
Jersey Prediction:Blackhawks in 4. This was the
easiest of the first round matchups. If I could I would
have picked Chicago in two. Nashville knows going in they
have now chance against those jersey’s, so they play two
games for the heck of it and then just quit.
TO THE EASTERN CONFERENCE!
(1) Capitals v. (8) Canadiens
Game 1 was a total shocker to me. The Capitals are heads
and tails better than every team in the Eastern
Conference. They have the best all around player in the
league in Alexander Ovechkin, and they play great as a
team. Well the Canadiens just kept going at him, and
instead of trying to always play the body, which doesn’t
always turn out well against Ovey, they went for the puck
just to get it off his stick. Great work.
Straight Logic Prediction: Capitals in 6. If I had
done this before the playoffs I probably would have taken
Washington in 4. Well who looks smart now? I think Jose
Theodore has one awful game in this series, but there is
no way the Ovechkin gets held to no shots on goal ever
Jersey Prediction: Tough tough matchup. The
classic Habs against a solid redo Caps jersey. (for the
not uniformed about why the Canadiens are called the
‘Habs’ by their fans, it is actually quite a simple
explanation. It is short for Inhabitants. They are the
Canadiens, the inhibitors of the country of Canada. So
they are the ‘Habs’. Now why do they spell their name
with an ‘e’ at the end instead of an ‘a’? I couldn’t tell
you, Canadians are weird.) I can’t deny the white Habs
jersey. It is too good and just eeks Montreal past
Washington in 7 games.
(3) Sabres v. (6) Bruins
I love this series. Two teams I really enjoy watching.
They both play tough hard nosed north-eastern style
hockey. They both have great fan bases who know so much
about the game. Should be a great series. If Game 1 was
any indicator, it will be fun to the bitter end.
Straight Logic Prediction: Buffalo in 5. I’m sad
it is only going to go this long. But there are two words
that make this an easy prediction. Ryan Miller. The
goaltender for the Sabres is so good he will carry his
team on his back; just like he did in the Olympics for the
USA. I haven’t said it yet because I was waiting for this
section, but goaltending wins you Stanley Cups, and
Buffalo has the best. Sadly, Boston is caught between the
old guard (Tim Thomas) and the new buck (Tuukka Rask) in
net. Miller will be too tough, just like Game 1.
Jersey Prediction: In a fantastic twist, these two
teams have two of the best Third Jersey’s in the league.
And in a great twist the Sabres wore theirs in Game 1! I
was so excited I yelped a little. It was kind of
embarrassing but I didn’t care. Sadly the series hinges
on the whole catalog of jerseys. (unless there was some
way to guarantee Buffalo would wear their third the whole
series) I’m going to have to give this to Boston in 6.
They are just, as a whole much better than Buffalo in the
sweater category. And even the best goaltending can’t
save you from a bad logo.
(2) Devils v. (7) Flyers
If I’m a New Jersey fan I’m scared to face Philly.
Getting into the playoffs by beating the Rangers in a
shootout carries a lot of momentum into the playoffs. It
got them over the hump in Game 1. The Flyers looked good
against a New Jersey team that has been playing second
fiddle to Washington in the East all year. I’m just not
sure that Brian Boucher will play as well as he has over
the last month for the entire series. Plus in the
opposite crease a guy by the name of Martin Brodeur. I
hear he’s good.
Straight Logic Prediction: Devils in 6. Brodeur
prevails. He’s the all time leader in wins for a goal-
tender and he always seems to will the Devils to the
Stanley Cup Finals every few years. And it’s been a few
since New Jersey was there. Don’t forget about Zach
Parise, by the way. The kid is skilled like few others in
the league and coming off a great Olympic Games is looking
to make himself a house hold name.
Jersey Prediction: Why I wish the Devils still wore
the Green and Red Jerseys, they still have a great looking
sweater. I don’t like the Flyers, I’m not sure if it is
the orange or just that it is too plain. Devils in 6.
(4) Penguins v. (5) Senators
The Penguins have a guy by the name of Sydney Crosby
leading the way in Pittsburgh. Even with Crosby and
Evgeni Malkin I’m not sold on the Penguins this year.
They have played a lot of games over the last two years;
making the Stanley Cup Finals both years and winning it
once. Not to forget they had five Olympians. I think
Marc Andre-Fleury is tired, and something has been off
with him all year. The Sens have the backing of Carrie
Underwood (who is engaged to Mike Fischer). They also
have one of the best lead by example Captains in the
league in Daniel Alfredsson. (He’s right behind the
‘Yotes Shane Doan).
Straight Logic Prediction: Ottawa in 7. I think
the Sens are getting overlooked here. The Penguins have
made great runs in the last two seasons and I just think
they have hit a wall. Ottawa is Canada’s best chance to
get to the Finals in the east.
Jersey Prediction: Wow, I’m not huge on either of
these teams garb. Penguins in 7. Pens in 5 if they
decide to wear their sweet third jersey the rest of the
We’ll be back after the first round to break down what
we’ll see in the second round. I might wait until two
games are done to do that one though. It is just so much
easier this way.