The Stanley Cup Playoffs begin tonight and that means every blogger, mainstream media member, and fan will be scurrying to make their playoff picks and enter their playoff pools. This blog will be no different.
As an added bonus, I've also added the predictions of my "Hopeless Hockey Fan In Training," Adina, whose hockey knowledge is limited to the names of goaltenders on seven teams and Zdeno Chara's playoff beard.
Without further ado:
(1) Vancouver versus (8) Los Angeles
Winner: Vancouver in 6
The Kings scored the second fewest goals in the NHL this season while the Canucks gave up the fourth fewest. Jon Quick has the ability to steal a few games for Los Angeles (and Roberto Luongo certainly has the ability to lose a couple for Vancouver) but the Canucks should be able to pull this one out.
Hopeless Fan Pick: Vancouver in 4
(2) St. Louis versus (7) San Jose
Winner: St. Louis in 6
The Blues are a ridiculous 30-6-5 at home this season, and the Sharks play just .500 hockey on the road. St. Louis also boasts 2012's best goaltending tandem in Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliot(!) while San Jose boasts Antii Niemi. This season was a huge disappointment for San Jose, and it won't end here.
Hopeless Fan Pick: St. Louis in 6
(3) Phoenix versus (6) Chicago
Winner: Chicago in 7
Chicago enters the postseason having gone 6-3-1 in their final ten games. Phoenix was similarly hot, going 7-1-2 down the stretch, en route to their franchise's first ever division title. Interestingly, the Winnipeg Jets missed the playoffs this season in the East. Curious. I expect this one to be a dog fight, and Mike Smith is certainly the x factor, but Chelsea Dagger will pull the Hawks through.
Hopeless Fan Pick: Chicago in 5
(4) Nashville versus (5) Detroit
Winner: Nashville in 5
Nashville is my pick to come out of the West this year, and even though I have them winning in a smooth five games, I don't think it will be easy. The Wings, possibly on their last legs to win a Cup with this core group, always perform well in the postseason and won't be an easy out. But the Preds finally have experience winning a series and they have all the tools to make a deep run. If anyone can shut down Pavel Datsyuk, it's Shea Weber and Ryan Suter. And if they fail, look no further than Pekka Rinne.
Hopeless Fan Pick: Detroit in 7
(1) NY Rangers versus (8) Ottawa
Winner: New York in 5
I've heard a lot of worries from Rangers fans, and while the upset is possible, it's not going to happen. The Rangers sputtered down the stretch, but they also had the East locked up and nothing to really play for. John Tortorella is a proven playoff coach, Brad Richards is a proven playoff performer, and Henrik Lundqvist should be your Vezina winner in June.
Hopeless Fan Pick: New York in 4
(2) Boston versus (7) Washington
Winner: Boston in 7
If I had more guts, I'd pick the upset. In the last ten years, defending champs have only gotten past the first round three times. Luckily for the Bruins, the Caps have no goalie.
Hopeless Fan Pick: Bostonnnnnn in 6
(3) Florida versus (6) New Jersey
Winner: New Jersey in 7
Most people are picking this as the easy "upset" of the first round. The only reason I think it goes seven is because of the likelihood that a bunch of these games will go to overtime. Together, these teams combined for 42 overtime games this season. That is, to put it simply, absurd.
Hopeless Fan Pick: Florida in 5
(4) Pittsburgh versus (5) Philadelphia
Winner: Pittsburgh in 6
The main event, if you will. Philly's goaltending enigma and Pittsburgh's top end talent will push the Pens over the top in what should be a nice, old-fashioned, brutal and bloody series. What wouldn't you do to get this on 24/7?
Hopeless Fan Pick: Pittsburgh in 4
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The 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs kick off tonight with the Penguins and Flyers at 7:30 on the NBC Sports Network.