[NHL] Playoff Preview 2010

The 2010 NHL playoffs are underway after Ottawa defeated Pittsburgh, Phoenix beat Detroit, Philadelphia upset New Jersey and Colorado found a way to silence San Jose last night. Tonight is the second night of the postseason. Buffalo and Boston, Montreal and Washington and Los Angeles and Vancouver all begin their series’. Check your local listings for the time and channel of your local team’s game.

(1) Washington Capitals


(8) Montreal Canadians

Season Series: 2-2

Prediction: The Caps are just about the nastiest team in the NHL. Few teams can boast that they have a 100 point scorer, let alone two. Alex Ovechkin finished with 109 points on the year, including 50 goals. His partner in crime, Nicklas Backstrom, finished with a career high 101 points. Alexander Semin and Mike Green weren’t too shabby either. They had 84 and 76 points respectively. Goalie Jose Theodore finished with a straight up sucio record of 30-7-7 with a 2.81 goals against average. The underachieving Canadians barely made the postseason and don’t carry remotely the same star power as Washington. Their top scorer, Tomas Plekanec only finished with 70 points. They found the goalie of the future and now though when Jaroslav Halak stepped up and took the reigns from the embarrassingly disappointing Carey Price. Washington shouldn’t have much trouble dispatching Montreal in a 4-0 sweep.

(2) New Jersey Devils


(7) Philadelphia Flyers

Season Series: Flyers won 5-1

Prediction: Here is one of those classic battles that we’ve grown to love in the playoffs. Somehow, the Flyers dominated the regular season. That’s what makes this one such an intriguing match up. The Devils had a much better record in the regular season and they have Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk. They are, however, mostly a defensive team. They allowed an low NHL 191 goals, nine less than Boston. The main reason for the Devils’ success is because 2010 gold medal winner, Martin Brodeur, is still entrenched between the Jersey pipes. Philadelphia had a rotating door of goalies this season, and are forced to settle for Brian Boucher after their other two netminders went down with bad injuries. On that note, I’ll give this one to New Jersey 4-2.

(3) Buffalo Sabres


(6) Boston Bruins

Season Series: Bruins won 4-2

Prediction: Here’s another classic backyard, divisional brawl. Boston won the season series 4-2, but big props to Buffalo for easily winning the northeast division after most “experts” picked them to finish near the bottom. Ryan Miller is the main reason for the Sabres success and he will most likely win the Hart or Vezina trophy when all is said and done. He finished with a 41-18-8 record and 2.22 goals against average. The Sabres have also dominated due to their team first mentality. Three players had sixty plus points and six players had forty plus points including 19 year old rookie defenseman Tyler Myers (48). Boston is a much lower scoring team, but they are led by ridiculous goalie phenom Tuukka Rask and his 1.97 goals against average. They only problem is that Rask doesn’t have any playoff experience and the team lacks the firepower to compete with the Sabres. I’ll take Buffalo 4-2.

(4) Pittsburgh Penguins


(5) Ottawa Senators

Season Series: 2-2

Prediction: This has to be the closest match up in the East. It’s the underachieving defending champs against the hard-charging veterans with a lot to prove. The Penguins have Sid the kid, Evgeni Malkin and Marc-Andre Fleury. The Senators counter with Daniel Alfredsson, Jason Spezza and some guy named Brian Elliot. What’s that smell? No, not the smell of fear, it smells like an upset. I’ll take the boys who occupy Scotia Bank Arena 4-3.

(1) San Jose Sharks


(8) Colorado Avalanche

Season Series: 2-2

Prediction: It seems like San Jose clinched a playoff spot in December because they’ve been so dominant all season. The battle between the Sharks and Blackhawks went down to the wire and San Jose won the top spot by one point. Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Dany Heately are a scary three headed monster for Colorado to deal with. They also have Evgeni Nabokov to deal with in net. He finished with a record of 44-16-10 with a 2.43 goals against average. The Avs stumbled into the playoffs on the back of unheralded, but up-and-coming netminder Craig Anderson. He won 38 games in his first season as a starting goalie while allowing 2.63 goals against average and getting a serious look as a potential Olympian. Paul Stastny and Chris Stewart won’t be enough for Colorado though, and they will end up losing this series to San Jose 4-2.

(2) Chicago Blackhawks


(7) Nashville Predators

Season Series: Blackhawks won 4-2

Prediction: I doubt there are any teams with more of a chip on their shoulder than Chicago. They lost out on the top spot in the West by one point and have people second guessing how good they really are after a less than stellar March. They have a myriad of snipers in Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Jonathan “your last name is annoying to say” Toews, Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa. Antti Niemi has been a revelation in goal after Cristobal Huet was just average. Nashville quietly made their way into the playoffs. I say that because most non-NHL fans probably have no idea that Nashville even has a team. But, they won 47 games and had six players with at least forty points. Lack of playoff experience in their goalies will probably be this team’s downfall though. I’ll take Chicago 4-2.

(3) Vancouver Canucks


(6) Los Angeles Kings

Season Series: Canucks won 3-1

Prediction: To say that the Vancouver Canucks are a high scoring team is a very large understatement. They were the highest scoring team in the West with such scorers as Henrik Sedin (112 points), Daniel Sedin (85) and Ryan Kessler (75). They also have a solid defense and one of the best goalies in the NHL in Roberto Luongo (40-22-4, 2.57 GAA). They won 49 games and are definitely a team that is due to win the Cup. They’ve been dominant for a long time and have always come up short. The Los Angeles Kings are back in the playoffs for the first time since before the NHL lockout. They are led by Anze Kopitar (81 points) and four fifty point scorers. Jonathan Quick was a backup goalie on the U.S. Olympic team this year and he earned that spot. Quick finished with a record of 39-24-7 with a 2.54 goals against average. Just like many of the series, the Canucks still have a big advantage with Luongo in net. The playoff mature Canucks will take this series 4-1.

(4) Phoenix Coyotes


(5) Detroit Red Wings

Season Series: 2-2

Prediction: Phoenix took game one of this series last night and I guess we shouldn’t be all that surprised. They won 50 games without a single player scoring more than fifty-five points. The reason for their success is the play of goalie Ilya Bryzgalov. He finished with a record of 42-20-6 with a mind blowing 2.29 goals against average. He also had eight shutouts. Detroit is one of the most playoff seasoned teams in the postseason, but they are also one of the oldest. With aging stars Nicklas Lidstrom, Tomas Holmstrom, Todd Bertuzzi, Brian Rafalski and Kris Draper, the Red Wings definitely have the experience. But, do they have enough left to make up for a very inexperienced goalie? Jimmy Howard won 37 games, but lacks the big game experience for me to pick Detroit in this series. I’ll give it to Phoenix in a tight one 4-3.

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