CHICAGO, IL – The Short Boss had technology do his dirty work by requesting my pinch-hit appearance today through email and text, much like Pat Riley did decades ago when he resigned from the Knicks via fax. But what the hell, I’m easy and tonight starts the NHL’s second season with opening round Western Conference playoff action… and I’m here to play Puck Prognosticator with our NHL Playoff Predictions…
#1 VS #8
WEST: The Minnesota North Stars made a magical run to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1991 that started with an upset of the President’s Trophy-winning Chicago Black Hawks. The Wild are doing their part in renewing the hockey rivalry between these two cities amid the same set of circumstances. It’s not how you play in the regular season but how a team performs when the stakes are the highest. Minnesota plays with house money starting tonight and have been a tough opponent for Chi-town this year. I can’t predict an Angry Ward/Minnesota Wild victory but they hang tough in a six-game losing effort.
EAST: The Penguins top seeding has them drawing the… New York Islanders ??? Ha ha! Sorry folks! Okay, David Volek isn’t around to bail out this rendition of NY/NJ hockey’s third citizens against an infinitely deeper roster of Pittsburgh forwards. I’ll give the goaltending edge to Evgenyi Nabokov who wrote the book on netminding compared to Marc Andre Fleury who is lucky to have a top-notch offense in front of him. Even so, Pens in 5.
#2 VS #7
WEST: It seems as though many “experts” are making the Red Wings the sexy pick as opening round heart-breakers. Not so fast. The Hawks runaway season made the Anaheim Ducks go almost unnoticed in the regular season. The water fowl boast a nice luxury of Jonas Hiller and Victor Fasth between the pipes and “Hockey Town” is sure to miss the retired Niklas Lidstrom. Ducks in an easy 5.
EAST: The matchup isn’t as exciting as Montreal-Toronto but the pairing is still provincially Quebec-Ontario as the stumbling Canadiens host the Ottawa Senators. In what is likely Sens captain Daniel Alfredsson’s playoff swan song, his teammates make the farewell tour last a little longer as I just can’t see Les Frogs putting enough pucks past Craig Anderson and Carey Price keeping them out of the mesh. Happy to report… Sens in 6.
#3 VS #6
WEST: The best of the opening round series will be San Jose @ Vancouver. The Sharks don’t lose at home and the Canucks are almost sure to lose serve in their own barn with the uncertain status of Corey Schneider in goal; if it’s up to Bobby Loo the city will be on fire once again. Sharks in 6.
EAST: What a surprise, another Rangers-Capitals playoff meeting. Thank God dirt-bag Dale Hunter’s puss won’t grace the telecast of these games. This should be a dandy of a series muck like last year’s games all decided by a goal. The Rangers are better on all three defense pairings and Lundvist is playing his best net of the year. Blueshirts move on in 6.
#4 VS #8
WEST: Plain and simple, Cam James’ Blues just can’t figure out the L.A. Kings. Should the Music Notes drop one of the first two at home like, I think this series is over in 5.
EAST: The Bruins (ugh!) would have trouble with the California Golden Seals in a best-of-7. The Leafs are bigger, dare I say, tougher and Toronto will best the B’s in 6.
Feel free to leave your comments below, follow us on Twitter at @MeetTheMatts and @Cheesy Bruin, respectively and come come back tomorrow for the Minnesota Wild’s lone New York supporter, Angry Ward.