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Interesting Stories From Each Playoff Series, Pt. 1

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New Hockey Primetime: What trainers will jam into your body to make sure you don’t miss any playoff games

Puck Daddy Predictions: JB likey Canuckleheads.

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There are a billion “preview” columns out there, so I’m just gonna touch on what I think is interesting from each series, starting with the five that kick-off tonight, and finishing up with the other three tomorrow.

(1) Washington Capitals vs. (8) New York Rangers

The most interesting story here, for my money, is whether all this talk about the Capitals changing their style of play was all a bunch of bluster because they were having trouble scoring, or if they seriously committed to a more North American style game. 

They’ve obviously excelled as a team, as evidenced by the one seed, but if we see the same struggles in round one that we saw last year, it will be like Tiger Woods performance at the Masters – okay, “everything’s changed,” “everything’s different,” but the result ended up the same as the year before, so what’s the point?  An early exit would mean bye bye Boudreau.

Underlying story: The Capitals goaltending.  The Caps will carry the bulk of the play and outshoot the Rangers, that much I promise you.  The Rangers will need Henrik Lundqvist to be huge, and if he is, they need a couple “maybe Neuvirth shoulda stopped that’s” at the other end.  I’ve been a public doubter of the Caps/Flyers tenders for years.

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(4) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. (5) Tampa Bay Lightning

On paper, there’s plenty of reasons to say this should be a win for the Lightning, aside from the fact that, like DJ Khaled, all the Pens do is win win win no matter what.

Dan Bylsma is a great coach, but I kind of feel like he’s squeezed every last drop of out Penguins, and at some point, all your left with is the husk.  He’s willed a team with very little offensive potential to maintain home ice despite the loss of you know who and that other good player.  I want to see if this team is for real, or if they just overachieved beyond all belief to grab that four seed.

Underlying story: The four fantastic Tampa Bay forwards are the key to the whole series.  Pittsburgh’s job defending won’t be easy, but it’s black and white: shut them down.  Can the Lightning forwards prevail despite the extra attention?

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(1) Vancouver Canucks vs. (8) Chicago Blackhawks

The obvious story here is the history between the teams.  But the bigger one for me?

The Blackhawks are better than just about everybody outside of Illinois wants to believe.  Obviously, yes, they were better last year.  But those kids that won a Cup gained a hell of a lot of experience along the way.  To write off a team with Jonathan Toews, Marian Freaking Three Straight Cup Finals Appearances Hossa, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook etc, is foolish.  Can they regain their form?

Underlying story: goaltending on both sides.  Luongo badly needs to shed the “not a big game goalie” label, and Corey Crawford – while having a great rookie season – has never had a taste of the NHL’s post-season before.  Just because Niemi rose to the occasion doesn’t mean he can.

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(3) Detroit Red Wings vs. (6) Phoenix Coyotes

Is Detroit vulnerable?

The bottom five seeds in the West are basically interchangeable – they were separated by next-to-nothing in the standings, meaning the Coyotes could just as easily be a four seed.  Don’t get it twisted – they’re a good hockey team; well-coached with solid goaltending and a team concept that’s going to make every game a battle in round one.  I picked Detroit, because they’re Detroit, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see Phoenix push them to the brink, and maybe get the break or two they need.

Underlying story: At least, I hope it’s underlying: the Coyotes pending, possible move, which I badly don’t want to happen.

I feel like this is a Disney movie waiting to happen – if they could find a way to make a deep playoff run, I could see that having an effect on if they stay or go, which is crazy.  The Mighty Coyotes! 

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(4) Anaheim Ducks vs. (5) Nashville Predators

First, how insane is it that Ducks are a four-seed with home ice?  I feel like with a week or two to go in the regular season they were a near-lock to miss playoffs.  Insane.

The biggest story here is that this a secretely interesting series – if I had to bet my life on a team, I wouldn’t know which way to go.  We tend to simplify: Oh, Pekka Rinne.  Oh, the big line on Anaheim.  The truth is, this series is the only one that is 100% dependant on how the individuals play, how injuries unfold, how the coaches manage their bench.  We could see five OT games.

I picked Nashville, but the more I think about it, the more I like Anaheim, if only for the fact that they’ve done it before, and playoff experience may help them in the nerves department.

Underlying story: Shea Weber is getting mad Norris love, Rinne Vezina love, and Suter might be one of the best in the NHL – that triangle will absolutely need to be at their best for Nashville to win.  If they do – and I believe in those guys – it should elevate them to the next level on the NHL star scale.

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Today’s the day folks!  Goooooo NHL Playoffs!

Comments

8 Responses to “Interesting Stories From Each Playoff Series, Pt. 1”
  1. Jonas says:

    I’m personally going with Anaheim. Having seen them live In February and seeing what a potent line that is (Getzlaf, Perry and Ryan — scary good) are I don’t think that the Preds can cope. Rinne will absolutely have to stand on his head. Add in the X factor Selanne and throw in some decent tending and solid D by the Ducks and they prevail. The Preds have been overachieving all year and as the intensity escalates in the playoffs I just don’t think they can keep it up.

  2. The Franchise says:

    Every year there seems to be a team that surges in the 2nd half of the season and come playoff time people can’t believe they aren’t a higher seed. I see that team as Anaheim this year.

    Over the last 40 games they’ve been one of the best teams in hockey, and in last month probably the best team. It’s tough to bet against the best team in hockey (right now) exiting in the 1st round.

  3. vx says:

    Maybe you could an article on steroids in the NHL. There’s NO WAY Teemu isnt juicing!
    I mean he turns 41 in July and look at what that guy is doing!

  4. Richie says:

    Not good for the previous two posters that Dan Ellis played like Dan Ellis and gave up some softies. Must because those Predators have no class. Goaltending is gonna be a #DanEllisProblem for Anaheim.

  5. Richie says:

    Too many worn out internet jokes?

  6. Nathan says:

    “I want to see if this team is for real, or if they just overachieved beyond all belief to grab that four seed.”

    This team is for real.

    I haven’t seen anybody mention the fact that they are playing with 9 players who won the Cup together two years ago, which I think is a big deal.

  7. vx says:

    Did I miss something. I thought the Predators dominated that game. Some of you are talking like they lucked out. (it was carried locally)

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  1. [...] you missed it, yesterday I wrote about the interesting stories I’ll be keeping an eye on from the five playoff series that started yester….  Today, I’ll be doing the same for the other three.  Without further ado….. MORE [...]



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