From the people who brought you such bold predictions such as the Edmonton Oilers making the playoffs this year comes Canuckz.com’s 2010 Playoff Predictions! Tomorrow we will do an in-depth analysis of the Canucks-Kings series, but in the meantime, lets take a look at the other seven series that begin tonight.
(1) San Jose Sharks vs (8) Colorado Avalanche
The Sharks will win if: they anything like the team that finished 1st in the Western Conference. The Sharks are a team known to choke in the playoffs (most notably Joe Thornton and Evgeni Nabokov) but they usually get past the first round. They should beat an undermanned Avalanche squad that is just happy to be in the playoffs.
The Avalanche will win if: their youthful exuberance overwhelms a ‘nervous about choking again’ Sharks squad. They’ll also need Craig Anderson to steal a game or two.
What everyone is talking about: The Sharks choke jobs in years past.
What nobody is talking about: The Sharks and Avalanche actually split their season series with two wins a piece.
Prediction: San Jose might choke, but not in round 1. Sharks in 5.
(2) Chicago Blackhawks vs (7) Nashville Predators
The Blackhawks will win if: their goaltending and defense holds up. The Hawks are loaded up front with a whole lot of scoring prowess but they’re going with unproven Antti Niemi between the pipes and have injuries to Brian Campbell and Kim Johnsson on defense. Luckily for them, Nashville has trouble scoring goals.
The Predators will win if: they can keep scoring chances down. You know, Jacques Lemaire style. The Preds have a strong defense and work ethic, so if they can limit scoring chances while taking advantage of shaky Hawks goaltending, they might pull off the upset.
What everyone is talking about: Chicago’s goaltending
What nobody is talking about: Chicago team defense. The Hawks gave up the fewest shots on goal by any team this year.
Prediction: Chicago has too much fire power, Nashville doesn’t have enough. Blackhawks in 5.
(4) Phoenix Coyotes vs (5) Detroit Red Wings
The Coyotes will win if: they can find a way to score goals and get all-world goaltending from Ilya Bryzgalov.
The Red Wings will win if: Jimmy Howard doesn’t crumble under the pressure of the playoffs.
What everyone is talking about: The roll the Red Wings are on.
What nobody is talking about: The Coyotes did not, in fact, use smoke and mirrors this season.
Prediction: The Coyotes are the biggest underdog with home ice advantage in the history of the league and for good reason. The Wings are an elite team that finished low in the standings due to their injuries early on. With that said, the Coyotes finished with the third most points in the conference for a reason and will give them a test. Red Wings in 6.
(1) Washington Capitals vs (8) Montreal Canadiens
The Capitals will win if: they get any kind of goaltending and have some semblance of team defense.
The Canadiens will win if: Jaroslav Halak plays out of his mind and they get a lot of power play goals. A Jose Theodore meltdown might help too.
What everyone is talking about: The banter going back and forth between Jose Theodore and Tomas Pleckanec.
What nobody is talking about: The discrepency between the Habs power play (ranked 2nd) and the Capitals penalty kill (ranked 25th).
Prediction: I don’t know if it’s just something about the history of the Habs or what, but I think that Montreal could steal a couple of games. Capitals in 6.
(2) New Jersey Devils vs (7) Philadelphia Flyers
The Devils will win if: Martin Brodeur doesn’t meltdown like he did last year and the Devils play that suffocating Jacques Lemaire system.
The Flyers will win if: they get goaltending. They have a stacked lineup but Brian Boucher is their goalie.
What everyone is talking about: Brodeur vs Boucher.
What nobody is talking about: The offense from the Flyers defense (Pronger, Carle, Timonen) vs the lack of offense from the Devils D.
Prediction: The Devils will win, but Flyers will take a couple on home ice. Devils in 6.
(3) Buffalo Sabres vs (6) Boston Bruins
The Sabres will win if: they can score. The Bruins are great defensively.
The Bruins will win if: they can score! The Bruins have trouble scoring and Ryan Miller is perhaps the best goaltender in the world.
What everyone is talking about: The lack of goal scoring that will take place.
What nobody is talking about: The Bruins style is suited for the playoffs.
Prediction: Upset time. The Bruins find a way to score goals and physically dominate the Sabres. Bruins in 7.
(4) Pittsburgh Penguins vs (5) Ottawa Senators
The Penguins will win if: Crosby and Malkin get any kind of help from their wingers.
The Senators will win if: they Philips and Volchenkov can shutdown Crosby.
What everyone is talking about: The championship swagger of the Penguins.
What nobody is talking about: The home record of the Sens (26-11-4)
Prediction: Bad matchup for the Sens. Penguins in 6.