I love making predictions. The beautiful thing about making predictions on your own blog is that there is absolutely no accountability. Actually, that’s also how it often is in the mainstream media and in government and private corporations. But the difference is that in this particular context, it’s beautiful.
(1) Pittsburgh / (8) N.Y. Islanders How stacked is Pittsburgh? Ridiculously so. My prediction comes from this consideration: Pittsburgh can outscore anyone, and the Islanders are a subset of anyone. If the Pens were going against a spectacular super-hot goalie, then maybe it would be a tough choice, but they’re not. Now, if Crosby isn’t back and Malkin goes cold, they’ll just turn to Iginla and Morrow and maybe get a couple goals from Jussi Jokinen and… Pens in 4.
(2) Montreal / (7) Ottawa The fact that Montreal did so much better this year than last year, apart from making me happy generally, also lends credence to one of my favourite hockey theories: that Andrei Markov is a really awesome hockey player. The fact that Ottawa is in the playoffs at all lends credence to another of my favourite hockey theories: sometimes stuff just happens and there’s no really good reason for it. Actually, that one’s more like a life theory than anything. But that, as they say in hockey analytics “doesn’t have predictive power”. Instead, we note that Montreal is struggling down the stretch and that coach “The Walrus Was Paul” McLean is able to outcoach anyone (and took a much better Rangers team to 7 games last year). And with Karlsson coming back like Malysh left something delicious out on the windowsill (I swear I will continue making this same stupid joke until everyone admits that’s the best Astrid Lindgren book), Ottawa gets a huge additional boost. Sens in 7.
(3) Washington / (6) N.Y. Rangers A lot of Washington’s success this year came from having a really great powerplay, where basically you set up Ovechkin on a one-timer at the top of the circle with a cross-ice pass and he scores every time. But now we are entering the Don Cherry-approved, old-timey realm of “playoff officiating” also known as “we should let Shea Weber do this“. Luckily, Shea Weber is not in this series. Nevertheless, at even strength, New York’s defensive skill will win out. Rags in 7.
(4) Boston / (5) Toronto Q: Can’t they both lose? A: No, they can’t. Boston dominated the season series, and Boston has Zdeno Chara, whereas Toronto has their “PDO: pugnacity driven offence” – I would give credit to whoever made this joke, but I forget who that is. Anyway, when, after losing the first game, Carlyle scratches Kadri and Grabovsky and, sends out McLaren, Orr and a first pairing that involves Mike Kostka, we’ll all laugh and that’ll be that. The Toronto Maple Leafs are just not as fun when they’re not incompetent. Which means I expect this series to be fun. B’s in 4.
(1) Chicago / (8) Minnesota Nobody believes in poor Minny. I don’t either. Also, let this be a lesson to you kids out there, unless you have strong reasons to think otherwise, the team with the more mustachioed coach usually is a good bet. Hawks in 6.
(2) Anaheim / (7) Detroit It almost seems like Anaheim is the underdog here, what with people thinking their record mostly came down to luck, Detroit getting healthier and being hot lately and dominating Anaheim in the back-to-back head-to-head (what?), and the enigma that is the Anaheim goaltending situation. I don’t buy it. Anaheim has the much better defence, and is the team with the better season. I will be cheering for the Wings, but the whole-bird package will triumph over the disembodied bird parts. Ducks in 6.
(3) Vancouver / (6) San Jose As a fan, I really lucked out here, because (a) I don’t think Vancouver had a shot against St. Louis or L.A., (b) I work with a Sharks fan, so this will be fun, and (c) I have a Canuck fan friend who lives in the bay area… hmmm. All that aside, I still expect this to be a tough series for Vancouver. Probably a goaltending battle between Schneider and Niemi, who is unexpectedly good this season. But, remember the last time they played? Vancouver won thanks to a stanchion. My theory is that inanimate objects hate San Jose, and that will be the deciding factor in this series. Nucks in 7.
(4) St. Louis / (5) Los Angeles L.A. should really win this series. They’re the better team on paper, they’ve dominated head-to-head, and between two unpredictable goaltending situations, I would slightly prefer to have L.A.’s. Plus, we already had this series last year, so we know how it turns out. In other predictions for this year, Mitt Romney will not become president, and Raffi Torres will throw an illegal hit. Also, Serge Haroche and David Wineland will repeat as Nobel Prize winners in physics. Okay, so maybe my model needs some work. Still. Kings in 6.