#1 (seed) vs #8
The Senators’ attention deficit disorder on defense keeps this series from going longer than five games. The Rangers superior defense and goaltending offset the Sens offensive talent. The Blueshirts don’t break a sweat in any games.
The pick: Rangers -230
The West is home to the opening round upset. Proof that the President’s Trophy means little, Las Vegas has set Vancouver’s price (-210) unusually low for a one seed as linesmakers sense the fragile psyche of last year’s runners up. The only move that can save the Canucks is sitting head case, Roberto Luongo, in favor of Corey Schneider. Vezina Trophy-worthy Kings netminder Jonathan Quick expedites the ‘Nucks golf vacation.
The pick: Kings in 6 at +175
#2 vs #7
Bruins -230/ Caps +190….I ain’t sayin’ sh!t.
The St. Louis Blues draw the experienced San Jose Sharks (+140). They may seem like live underdogs but when you’re goalie sounds like a character from The Wizard of Oz, Auntie Em won’t stop the storming St. Louis Blues, who win in 6.
The pick: Blues, a best bet bargain at -160
#3 vs #6
These seeds are controversial in nature due in large part to the division winning “3” getting home ice advantage over the usually higher point-getting “6.” The Blackhawks are -130 over the Cai-yotes +110, a slight nod to the battle tested Native Americans. Phoenix netminder Mike Smith was brilliant in relief against the Bruins in last year’s conference finals as a member of the Lightning. He’s the difference maker in this series.
The pick: Desert Dogs in 6
The Devils/Panthers matchup is the most intriguing opening round series. Rangers fans will be curiously watching the winner of this one as an expected Devils (-190) advance barring an upset of the Bruins-Caps series keeps the Rangers from facing the Flyers-Pens tilt winner. The Cats are the worst playoff team in the tournament as their minus-24 goal differential, anemic offense, and playoff low 32 regulation/overtime wins suggests. In what could be HOFer Martin Brodeur’s last ride, his former understudy, Scott Clemmensen, would be my choice in net over Jose Theodore for the Panthers. EVERYTHING points to the Devils which is why…
The pick is: Panthers in 7
#4 vs #5
One would think these battles would have a slight favorite in the -120/130 range but the Penguins are – 210 in the Battle of Pennsylvania and are the chalk to win the Cup. I’ll take the bait as the Flyers hold their annual audition to find somebody to stop pucks in the playoffs. Should be an entertaining high-scoring set and if one team holds a two game lead it’ll get downright ugly.
The pick: Pens in 5
When you have a 6’5” goalie standing erect in the crease and whose name is Pekka how can you lose to an opponent whose last name, (Jimmy) Howard, is synonymous with The Three Stooges? The Predators take another step forward as the Red Wings are fodder for Nashville on their way to the Conference finals.
The pick: Nashville in 5
West Coast Craig, tomorrow.