NHL Stanely Cup Playffs 2010

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For those of you who watch ESPN and therefore may be unaware of this: The Stanley Cup playoffs begin today!

Eastern Conference:

#1 Washington Capitals Vs #8 Montreal Canadiens

One franchise has a long, historic tradition of winning..the other one, not so much. Even so, you wouldn’t be able to tell which is which from the way both of these teams have been going over the last handful of years. The Caps have been exploiting their offensive talents while the Habs continue to be the epitome of mediocre in what is a mediocre Conference to begin with. Even so, the series comes down to systems. Whoever can control the tempo of the games should be able to win it out. Run and gun like the Caps or tighten up defensively like the Habs? The series may be not be as dull as it looks on paper.

Prediction: Washington in 6

#2 New Jersey Devils Vs #7 Philadelphia Flyers

Lindros Vs Stevens rematch…well, not really. The Flyers are coming off barely making the playoffs after having a tough go at it against NYR during the last two games of the regular season while the Devils have had another solid year thanks to Martin Brodeur and an offense that may or may not show up. Kovalchuk will be the wild card here as he was brought into NJ to offer that scoring threat at all times…can he bring that in the playoffs? The Devils better hope so. For the Flyers, not much is expected of them but they’ll do what they can to bully their way into making this a series.

Prediction: New Jersey in 5

#3 Buffalo Sabres vs #6 Boston Bruins

How the mighty have fallen. A year ago, the Bruins were the #1 seed (which really didn’t mean anything when it was all said and done), now they find themselves calling the ER to check in on their players. The Bruins have no offense and their Vezina trophy winner is riding the bench. Who would have thought that? After all, guys in their 30’s are always ripe for breaking it big time in the NHL, right?

Or maybe not. The Sabres on the other hand, continue to flourish via their “offense by committee” approach and Ryan Miller is gold in net. Or silver.

Prediction: Buffalo in 5

#4 Pittsburgh Penguins Vs #5 Ottawa Senators

This has the opportunity to be the best series in the East. These teams have faced each other twice in the playoffs over the last few years and this is the rubber match as they stand 1-1. The faces in the lineups have changed, but the main names remain: Crosby, Malkin, Spezza, Alfie. The question is in goal for the Sens as they were counting on Pascal Leclaire to take charge and that didn’t exactly pan out this season, while the Penguins are hoping that Marc-Andre Fleury can turn it up for the postseason. In the end, I’ll go with the team that actually WON the Cup when they made it to the Finals.

Prediction: Pittsburgh in 7

Western Conference

#1 San Jose Sharks Vs #8 Colorado Avalanche

10 years ago, the seeding would be the other way around. I still remember the year that the Sharks took the Avs to 7 games in the Conference-Semi’s and actually led the series 3-2 before the AV’s came back to win the last 2 games and send the Sharks home as they scratched their heads wondering what happened. Since then, both franchises have remade themselves and the Sharks are still wondering what happens to them in the playoffs. The Avalanche had a great season and did more than anyone expected, they’ll finally do what people expect them to here, however, and lose to the Sharks.

Prediction: San Jose in 5

#2 Chicago Black Hawks Vs #7 Nashville Predators

You’ve got to applaud both of these franchises as the Black Hawks have had a renaissance and are one of the most exciting and talented teams in the league, while the Predators have remained consistent and tough thanks to Barry Trotz. He has done a remarkable job with the Preds. This is going to be a gritty, tough series and the Hawks will learn A LOT from this.

Prediction: Chicago in 6

#3 Vancouver Canucks Vs #6 Los Angeles Kings

This series is lost in the shuffle as we have the newcomers in the Kings and the Canucks who are in limbo due to Roberto Luongo’s faulty play as of late. This is a real test for both teams. The Kings face a top notch goalie to start things off and the Canucks get a team similar to the Hawks in that they’re ridden with talent but their goaltending comes into question. This will definitely be a tit for tat series that’s going to go all the way.

Prediction: Los Angeles in 7

#4 Phoenix Coyotes vs #5 Detroit Red Wings

Anyone have Calgary penciled into the playoffs anywhere? Talk about a scary #5 seed, the Red Wings are on fire but perhaps this layoff will work to help the Coyotes who aren’t doing so bad at all themselves. It’s easy to pick the Red Wings to win this because they’ve got the history to back them up but the Coyotes have an entire season of great hockey to back them up as well and they have home ice advantage. Experience will win this one out, but it’s not going to be easy for Detroit at all.

Prediction: Detroit in 7