The field is now down to 8 teams and I got 6 of the 8 winners right in round 1. So, I’ll give my personal predictions for this round and mention a few other random thoughts.
For the East, I think Philadelphia will win in 6. In the other series, I have really gone round and round with it, but I will tentatively pick Washington in 7.
In the west, Vancouver should win in 6, though I think that Nashville might really be overmatched in this case. In 7 games, I think Detroit will prevail over San Jose.
I think the most “entertaining” series will be the Philadelphia and Boston match up, as that is a rematch from last season. Boston, after their monumental collapse up 3-0 last season, will have a lot to prove. However, though I don’t know if the goaltender by committee approach will work as effectively in this round if it has to be used by the Flyers, I just think Philadelphia has too much firepower. Tim Thomas has been amazing at times, but I don’t know if that will be enough to win the series.
Washington and Tampa will be a very interesting series. I picked Washington to win it, but I would not be shocked if Dwayne Roloson steals it for the Lightning. In my humble, personal opinion, the Rangers really had no business in the playoffs and would have gone out faster without their goaltending. I think the Lightning will offer a much more challenging opponent, but the Caps and their new defensive style will be difficult to beat in the end. Michal Neuvirth has also played quite well and consistently.
Without Pekka Rinne, I don’t think Nashville will have much of a chance against Vancouver. The Canucks are just scary good, and despite Chicago taking them the distance, I just don’t think they ` have the horses to go up against Luongo and company. Last night could have easily been 5 or 6-0, and, yes, I know Weber came pretty close to tying the game late, but I don’t think that would have mattered.
Finally, to me, the experience and depth of the Redwings will enable them to come up on top in the end. I do think the Sharks will not go out easy, however. The thing is, Antti Niemi has not played consistently, and the Wings have the knack of victimizing teams in that situation. Unless Niemi can recapture his form from last season, I don’t even know if it will go 7 games. I’m taking 7 simply to cover the presence of chance.
As two additional thoughts, thus far, the officiating in the playoffs has been rather weak at times. Calls have been missed, calls have been unnecessarily made and games have been impacted. Also, the lack of consistency and effectiveness of the league in disciplining players has truly shown itself. Playoffs or not, folks, we can’t have double or triple standards working based on the team and time of year. Mike Richards and Milan Lucic, for example, should have gotten suspended. Plain and simple …
So, what is to stop a player from taking liberties if he knows he might get 1 game at the most? And, as a scenario, let’s say your team is pretty much on the way out in the final game of a series and you decide to take a run at the other team’s top player. What will the NHL do then? All of a sudden, will the 4 plus game suspension criteria emerge? I am stupefied, folks.
Lastly, why wasn’t Matt Moulson selected for the Canadian Worlds? I know this isn’t “playoff related”, but I am equally baffled how a 31 goal scorer, who would have been playing with his line mate in John Tavares was not selected as part of the 12 forwards. I have viewed the selections, and I am left shaking my head. besides the fact Canada has 7 centers, the numbers Moulson has put up just makes the roster seem very lacking. Of course, this is the opinion of an opinionated jabrone who is not a general manager or part of a coaching staff, so take it for what it’s worth.
Stay tuned for our Islander player reviews. As Gary indicated, they will be coming next.
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