Burgahs and Mushes, Lindas and Charlies, the Stanley Cup Playoffs are upon us (I know I’m a couple days late but the Bruins haven’t played yet so it’s okay). This is (in my opinion) the most grueling and intense of all playoffs on sports. These guys really crank it up to 11 and bring a whole new level of intensity and tenacity to the table this time of year. So without further ado, here are my picks and my analysis of each series.
Colorado vs Minnesota: Aves in 4
Colorado being the top seed in the West and one of the fastest teams in the league makes them a pretty easy pick to beat the Wild. The Wild are an unbelievable team on paper but over the past two years have not been able to quite live up to it, especially when they have Heater watching from the press box with 3 supermodels under his arms and half a tin in his lip #50in07 (follow @DanyAllStar15 for some funny tweets). However, the Aves are too young and inexperienced to beat the Blues (or Blackhawks) next round.
St. Louis vs Chicago: Blues in 6
This should be a first round matchup for the ages. Two of the most well rounded teams in the league. Both teams have an incredibly strong defense with a high powered offense in front of them. I give the Blues the edge because I think their defense is just a shade better and they have RYAN MILLER in net. Corey Crawford is greatly outmatched in the goalie battle. Sidenote: the outcome of this series may be contingent on Kane and Teows’ abilities to bounce back from the injuries they just returned from.
Anaheim vs Dallas: Anaheim in 5
This really shouldn’t be much of a contest. Dallas is just outmatched in every phase of the game and Seguin doesn’t have time for this whole playoff shit, he needs to go tan and slay a half dozen burgahs a day. Isn’t that why he left Boston in the first place?
San Jose vs LA: San Jose in 7
I definitely think San Jose is the better team, but in recent years LA has been such a playoff juggernaut that it’s hard not to give them 7 games. Not to mention San Jose always finds a way to fall apart under high expectations. I still give the series to the Sharks, but it will be much closer than it looks like on paper.
NY Rangers vs Philly: Philly in 7
This is going to be a great series to watch. These two teams absolutely hate each other and have a lot of history to back it up. The pick is really a toss-up, so just sit back and enjoy the hockey. Sidenote: it might be one of those “I went to a fight and a hockey game broke out” kind of series.
Pittsburgh vs Columbus: Pitt in 5
Columbus is getting there, making enormous improvements year to year. They’re just not quite there yet. Especially not against the ‘guins.
Tampa Bay vs Montreal: Montreal in 7
I might be a little biased because I want a Bruins vs Habs 2nd round, but whatever. Tampa is usually the type of team that is real hot the first half of the year then slowly tapers off. The Canadiens tend to stay pretty consistent and really battle in the playoffs.
BOSTON vs Detroit: Boston in 6
The Bruins are the consensus pick to win the cup by analysts and bookies alike. I was tempted to take the B’s in 3, but I’ll stay impartial. Don’t get me wrong, this is going to be a nice “Olde Tyme Hockey” matchup with two original 6 teams, but the Wings have been through way too many injuries and are too young to take down the deep and resilient Black & Gold. Obviously the Bruins will pay special attention to Datyuk, who is easily a top 3 player in the universe, and I think the B’s defense will do a good job of keeping him relatively quiet. They did it with Crosby AND Malkin last year. But, this special attention on Datsyuk will leave a bit of a window for the two rookies Tatar and Nyquist, who are absolutely filthy. Ultimately, the Bruins’ depth will make up for that along with the two-way play of their forwards, which the Wings don’t have nearly as much of, which can be mostly credited to their youth and inexperience.
The game changer between last year and this year for the Bruins this year is the third line. Soderberg really stepped it up this year and showed that he belonged in the NHL. Don’t forget: he did lead the Swedish League in scoring two years ago. Now that he has had that year to transition into the Chel (NHL), he is an animal out there. The Bruins went from having one of the worst third lines in the league to arguably the best. Not to mention the B’s have Iginla now, making the Krecji line (which led the playoffs in scoring last year) that much more dangerous. These things aside, I am a strong believer in playing from the defensive zone out, and the Bruins have one of the best defensive cores in the league. The young defensemen look like seasoned veterans back there. Obviously they won’t be carrying the bulk of the load, but having six defensemen who all play the game they are supposed to play is immeasurable. Kevan Miller, Torey Krug, and Matt Bartkowski really could carry the Bruins to the cup simply by playing the roles given to them by Claude (who I absolutely love). The Bruins also have great two-way play on all four of their lines, especially Bergeron, who is THE best defensive center in the league. Oh yeah, and Tuukka is pretty damn good too.