Pic of the day: First Stanley cup. A pic of the Montreal Hockey club after winning the first ever Stanley cup in 1893.
Now, before I get to my picks I have to make a statement. It was a complete and total aberration that I picked all four winners for the second round. Shocked the hell out of me. I do not think that in the last 5 years I have been quite that successful with my picks. In any sport. My best pick before this was nailing the score of the Steelers – Cardinals Superbowl. And that was overshadowed by the fact that I picked the Cardinals to lose in every round.
No such shadow over last rounds amazing success. Well… actually there is. But I don’t know that I can be blamed for them. I don’t think anyone would have picked the Blues to get swept, and I had them losing in 6. And frankly I am disappointed with the Predators. I had them putting up a helluva better fight in that series than what they actually did, and while I had them losing I had them losing in 7, and they were lucky to make it to 5 games.
I had the Devils in 6 (Devils won in 5) and the Rangers in 7(nailed it,) so there I was closer than I was with the western conference picks.
Well, knowing me, the accuracy of the picks of the last round were pure luck. I’m not expecting that to continue, so with out further adieu,
ON WITH THE INACCURACY!
Eastern Conference Finals: 1) New York Rangers vs. 6) New Jersey Devils; Smashmouth hockey. Get used to the term. These teams know each other, and they don’t like each other. The first two rounds for the Rangers have been tough hard fought battles, but they will seem minor skirmishes in comparison into the bloody mosh pit that these games are going to be. And the Devils are walking in rested and ready.
Now the Rangers have suffered from a dearth of scoring, but that is more a product of the team defenses they faced, and superlative goalies they’ve faced than an actual lack of capacity to score. When they find open ice they score and they win. Example: Michael Del Zotto’s game 7 game winner against the Caps. He was free for a few seconds, and he sent the Caps home because of it
The Devils have had more scoring than the Rangers all postseason. The Devils never scored less than 3 goals in any game against the Flyers, and only twice scored less than 2 goals since the playoffs began. The Rangers only scored more than 3 goals 4 times in both rounds they’ve played, 2 in each round.
The Rangers have shown great resiliency in the face of extraordinarily stifling defense while bringing their own. The Devils haven’t had to. The Devils will need to show they can overcome strong defense, which they have yet to face. I don’t see them doing it, and I see the Rangers opening up their offense here just a bit. Rangers in 6.
Western Conference Finals: 3) Phoenix Coyotes vs 8 ) Los Angeles Kings; Both of these teams have had strong scoring, and both of these teams have had outstanding goal-tending. Mike Smith, a man who cut his teeth in the NHL backing up Marty Turco in Dallas a few years ago has more than come out of Marty’s shadow and shown himself to be a force in net to be reckoned with. A 1.77 GAA and a .950 save percentage is as close to perfect as a goalie can get.
Jonathan Quick has matched him and more, as far as his numbers are concerned, with a minisculce 1.55 GAA and an identical .950 save percentage, and has only lost once, and no one has been more successful in net than J. Quick that way.
The offenses here are going to be hard pressed to score with those stone walls out there in net. Here I think I see one team that has an advantage. And that is the Kings. Anze Kopitar, who is a great player who has not yet shined in these playoffs(only 3 goals,) will step it up a notch here. Justin Williams and Mike Richards are a hellacious tandem that have scored and played well together.
The ‘Yots do have scoring on their team as well, they didn’t get here just with goal-tending, but I do not know that it will be enough to get past the steamroller than is the L.A. Kings. Kings In 5.
And is it me, or does Brian Boyle of the New York Rangers look exactly like a Guy Fawkes mask? Just saying…
That’s it from here, America. G’night.