Playoff MatchupsApril 6, 2008
Let’s take a look at this year’s playoff matchups. This analysis is going to be completely unscientific, and kind of sad, since there’s no Buffalo included in any of the matchups. I bear no responsibility if you go and bet the house, kids and dog on anything that you read here.
The Eastern Conference
Montreal (1) vs. Boston (8)
– Montreal’s been on fire lately, and Boston played listlessly its last few games. The fans in Montreal also get more into the game than those in Boston. The Habs game against the Sabres was probably one of the loudest games I’ve heard this year. The crowd was in post-season form already. The only downside is that the “Ole” song gets stuck in your head for awhile after watching a Habs game.
Prediction: Canadiens in five.
Pittsburgh (2) vs. Ottawa (7)
Ottawa’s been a hot mess since the midpoint of the season. They started the season 15-2 and ended up just barely making the playoffs. This is especially odd, considering many people thought the East was going to be between them and Buffalo. The Sens goalie situation is the hottest part of the hot mess, as Emery’s a flake, and Gerber’s just well, he is what he is. The Sens also aren’t helped by the loss of Alfie and Fisher for “weeks.”
The Pens proved this season that they are not all Crosby, all the time. Most of the NHL predicted that they would flounder when Sid went down with his ankle sprain. Instead, Sid’s teammates – most notably Malkin – stepped up to the plate, and not only kept the Pens in the playoff picture, but propelled them to the top of the conference. Not bad for a bunch of kids. And who would’ve thought that Conklin would play so spectacularly well when Fluery got hurt?
Prediction: Pens in 6.
Washington (3) vs. Philadelphia (6)
The fact that Marty shut out his opponents in the Phylers last two games means that he’s going to turn into a human sieve against Ovie and Co. Philly has a potent offense when they can figure out how to make it work, but they’re most known for their goonery this season. Marty’s been anything but consistent, and I smell doom for him.
On the Caps side, expect all Ovie, all the time. And the media will probably regale us with the tales of how Ovie is the first person to ever celebrate a goal, and how his celebrations are so joyful. Despite that, the Caps did a great job turning their season around. Bondreau (did you know he was in Slap Shot?) did a great job of righting the Capitals ship.
Prediction: Caps in 6. (What, you thought I would pick Philly? They have a slag faced whore. Do I really want to read Bucky columns gloating about Briere’s run in the playoffs? I. Don’t. Think. So.)
New Jersey (4) vs. New York Rangers (5)
Oh, those wacky Devils. Marty’s solid in net. The team has more defenders than they know what to do with. They’ve got solid leadership in Langenbrunner and Pandolfo, and a lot of young talent in Zajac and Parise. They’ve somewhat managed to overcome their reputation for killing hockey and/or their coaches to finish a solid fourth in the conference this year.
The Rangers bug me. They’ve got two slag-faced whores on the roster in Drury and Gomez. And they’ve got Sean Avery (who was really amusing me during the Devils game due to his trash-talking with Madden and Clarkson) who perpetually manages to annoy the crap out of fans and opponents alike. And people act like they’re god’s gift to hockey because they’re the Rangers and they play in NY. Yippee.
That said, I’m going with the Devils in 7.
Now, onto our friends in the West.
Detroit (1) vs. Nashville (8)
I have to root against Detroit. Their uniforms remind me of the old Soviet Red Army unis. And they have Dominik Hasek on the roster. That’s enough to make anyone who lived through the Hasek saga in Buffalo automatically root for the other team.
Nashville has former Sabre JP Dumont on the roster, but they do have that awful Sabretooth derivative mascot, Gnash.
Prediction: Detroit in five.
San Jose (2) vs. Calgary (7)
Before they got Soupy on their roster, I generally had no problem with San Jose. They had solid goaltending, a decent defense, two former Sabres in Mike Grier and Curtis Brown, and a star in Joe Thornton.
(OT: How does Mozilla’s spell check recognize Grier and Thornton as words, but not Sabres? The mind, she is boggled.)
Now the only reason I’m bothered by San Jose is that they have Brian Blessed Campbell on their roster. Soupy proved that he can’t negotiate a contract and play hockey at the same time, and now he’s shooting his mouth off that he wanted to stay in Buffalo, but the team wouldn’t pay him. Whining about the past has made the Soupy – and by extension, the Sharks – dead to me.
And besides, the Sharks went on a bazillion game winning streak to end the season. Statistically, they’re due for some losses to offset all those wins.
I like Calgary because of some unnatural attachment I have to western Canadian teams. Maybe its seeing them repeatedly on the 10pm game on HNiC, but I really do like the Flames. Their fans are passionnate and noisy, and manage to turn the arena into a really cool looking sea of red (a Flame Out?). And besides, they have two former Sabres in Rhett Warrener and Cory Sarich.
Prediction: Calgary wins the Battle of the Former Sabres in Seven.
Minnesota (3) vs. Colorado (6)
Gotta root for Minnesota here, if only because I don’t want to hear any more about Peter Forsberg’s miraculous return to hockey. And besides, the Avs have Adam Foote on their roster, who, if the stories coming out of Columbus about his pre-trade conduct are true, deserves a nice, swift first-round boot.
And besides, Minnesota’s Brent Burns has quite the menagerie at his house. I’m a sucker for animals. And hockey players with many kinds of animals just rock (though I could live without the snakes.)
Prediction: Minnesota in six.
Anaheim (4) vs. Dallas (5)
Anaheim’s shifty. They’re the kind of organization that you should root for. They’re the defending Stanley Cup Champs. They’ve got a lot of really promising young talent on their roster, and a great goalie in Giggy. But all that is weighed against the douchiness that is Chris Pronger (just because you are six feet tall does not allow you to have your own set of rules. You don’t see Chara pulling the same crap you do, and he’s taller than you!). Then, the will-they / won’t they retirement saga of Niedermayer and Selanne just dragged on way to long and handcuffed the Ducks from making moves in the early part of the season.
About the only redeeming thing for the Ducks is that they could potentially add Drew Miller to their roster for the playoffs. Seeing Drew again go for a Stanley Cup might make older brother Ryan’s head explode. But if older brother does play for Team USA at Worlds and wins a gold medal, does that outweigh Stanley? (Yes, I did have a Ducky-phiphany over the past few days. Why do you ask?)
Dallas and Buffalo have a unique relationship. The Cowboys defeated the Bills twice in the Super Bowl, and the Stars defeated the Sabres in the 1999 Cup Finals due to Brett Hull’s stinking foot being in the crease. That said, I really do like the Stars. They’ve got a great puck-handling goalie in Turco (and, he gives great interview) and solid veteran leadership in Modano and STUUUUUUU Barnes.
Prediction: Dallas in Seven, but four games before Pronger does something stupid.
And in non-playoff related news, I know I should trust Larry Quinn as far as I can throw him, but this article is giving me hope. Don’t be a tease, Larry!
Identifying the two players as key parts of Buffalo’s young foundation, Sabres managing partner Larry Quinn said Sunday that securing both to long-term contracts are among the top offseason priorities for a team that, in one year, went from winning the Presidents’ Trophy to missing the playoffs altogether.
“It’s not a decision that we’re going to make, we’ve already made it,” Quinn told The Associated Press a day before the Sabres are scheduled to clean out their lockers. “We clearly want those guys to be part of the long-term success here.”
Quinn said negotiations have yet to begin with either player, both of whom have one year left on their contracts.
Quinn also included rugged forward Paul Gaustad in the team’s list of offseason priorities. Gaustad completed a two-year deal, but is only eligible to become a restricted free agent this summer.
Larry, please refer to Katebits’ threat at The Willful Caboose about what will happen if Goose doesn’t re-sign. You really don’t want to be responsible for the death of the planet, do you?