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Here are my predictions for the other playoff match ups. I will break down the Rangers-Caps series some time tomorrow.

(1) Bruins VS (8) Canadiens
Category
Edge
Comments
Offense
The Bruins scored the second most goals in the entire National Hockey League, behind the offensive juggernaut Red Wings. They have a multi pronged attack and play the trap to a perfection to generate their chances. With that said, their game relies a lot the opposition making mistakes. If you don’t make mistakes, you can keep them off the scoreboard. The Habs also have a very high powered offensive attack, but they generate a lot of their offense from their power play and from the blue line. The loss of Markov for the rest of the season really hurts the Habs attack.
Defense
The only thing better than the Bruins offense is the Bruins defense. Led by Norris candidate Zdeno Chara the Bruins are superb at clogging lanes, clearing the crease, and not giving up any quality scoring chances. Montreals defensive game is pretty much non existant, they try to pressure the puck, and head up the ice with it, their blueline is severly depleted with an injured Schneider, and Markov who will miss the rest of the season.

Goaltending

Tim Thomas probably will win the Vezina, but he is a vastly overrated goalie. He gives up the juciest of rebounds into the worst places, however his team is so superb at clearing those rebounds they never seem to burn him. Thomas’ unorthodox playing style might earn him some time on TSN’s top plays, but it also leaves huge gaping holes to go through. If you get the puck to the net, with people in front, those rebounds will be there for you to put in…getting there is the trouble. Carey Price is hot and cold. You’re either getting the reincarnation of Patrick Roy, or the reincarnation of Jason Labarbera. It can depend on game to game. Personally I think this matchup is a lot closer than the numbers play out. Talent wise, I would give the edge to Price, by a large margin. Results wise, you have to give the nod to Thomas…for now.
Coaching
No contest here, the Habs are being coached, reluctantly by their GM, the Bruins have a Jack Adams quality coach behind the bench. No if ands or buts, Julien gets the nod over Gainey.

So, you have Bruins getting the edge in every statisitcal category, and I clearly am a statistical nut. So, you’re probably guessing a Bruins sweep here. Well, not so fast. I actually am going to go with the upset here, and pick the Canadiens in 6, for a few reasons. First, it’s impossible to discount just how difficult it is to play in Montreal. That stadium goes nuts in the playoffs, and the team seems to feed off of it. Second, the Bruins are young, untested, and overachievers, they seem to have a lot of overconfidence going on with their fan base, and my guess is it will translate to the players as well. Finally, you have Tim Thomas VS Carey Price. Don’t ask me why, but I think Price is going to stand on his head, and Thomas will come falling back to earth. This is all gut feeling here, but that’s what I am going for. It’s my epic upset of the playoffs.

Pick: Canadiens in 6

 

(3) Devils VS (6) Hurricanes
Category
Edge
Comments
Offense
Technically speaking the Devils have the edge here, because they did score more raw goals than the Hurricanes. However I am going by the latest trends, which has the Devils trending downwards in terms of goals scored, and the Hurricanes trending way upwards. Both teams have a lot of offensive weapons, with the Canes probably having a few more.
Defense
New Jersey technically has the big edge here, however I would argue the better players are on the Carolina side of things, but the Devils system seems to protect them a lot more than the Canes system. Give and take I suppose.

Goaltending

Even
Uncle Daddy gets the even more on name than anything. Really Cam Ward should be running away in this category, but Uncle Daddy still gets some bonus points for being what he is, but I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Ward outplays him…badly.
Coaching
Brent Sutter. This one isn’t even close. There isn’t a coach in the National Hockey League who I would say has the edge over Sutter, not even my beloved Tortorella. Sutter is a coaching genius, we can only hope Lou Lams does something stupid and fires this guy. It’s just amazing how much Sutter has gotten out of such an old, and flawed team, especially when you look at their defensive corps.

The hot team is going to win here. Even though the Canes lost 2 in a row to close out the season, they were the hottest team in the NHL for the last 2 months or so. Nobody could touch them, and their play at home is just mind boggling. Nobody is scared of coming into Newark to play there, hell they don’t even sell out the place during the playoffs. The Devils probably would have advanced against just about every other team (who doesn’t have Sean Avery)…but against this one, it’s just too much to ask.

Pick: Hurricanes in 5

 

(4) Penguins VS (5) Flyers
Category
Edge
Comments
Offense
Even
The Flyers have a frightening array of top 9 forwards. With Danny Briere playing on their 3rd line. They have weapons up and down their lineup, and are just downright frightening to play against. However the Penguins have 2 of the 3 best players in the National Hockey League playing on their team. Malkin and Crosby are as talented as you can get, both make the players around them better, and both are capable of carrying a team on their back. Quantity VS Quality here, and I think they end up evening out. No edge here.
Defense
Even
Both teams have 2 very good defenseman (Timmonen, Coburn VS Gonchar, Orpik), and not a lot after that. Letang is OK, but really none of their guys really are that great. These are 2 teams that rely on having control of the puck, and keeping the puck out of their zone for as much as possible. No edge here either.

Goaltending

Even
Fleury and Biron both backstopped their teams to the Eastern Conference Finals last year (against each other, obviously) and Fleury came out on top, but really it was having that extra weapon that the Pens had in Hossa which seemed to make the difference. These are 2 fairly evenly matched goalies. No edge here either.
Coaching
Even
I don’t know enough about either of these coaches to say much. Stevens seemed to luck out into a job where he was given a supremely talented team, and the Pens seemed to take off just because they finally got rid of Therien. I can’t really give an edge to either coach here as well.

This is the ultimate coin flip. 2 evenly matches teams, who are in the same state, who hate each others guts…that is what playoff hockey is all about. I don’t think home ice will matter all that much here, I just think it’s going to come down to an injury, or a lucky bounce or what have you. I’ll go with the Flyers….no real reason here, just another gut feeling.

Pick: Flyers in 7

 

 


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