Friday, April 29, 2011

picks like brunch

Now that a lovely first round has concluded, it's time for a little stock-taking.

Rangers (8) / Capitals (1)--Caps in 5
Sabres (7) / Flyers (2)--Flyers in 4
Habs (6) / Bruins (3)--Bruins in 4
Lightning (5) / Penguins (4)--Lightning in 4

Blackhawks (8) / Canucks (1)--Canucks in 6
Kings (7) / Sharks (2)--Sharks in 6
Coyotes (6) / Red Wings (3)--Coyotes in 7
Predators (5) / Ducks (4)--Ducks in 7

Pierre Idiot Trudeau:
East: Philly (1) vs. Buffalo (8)--4-1 Flyers
Washington (2) vs. NYRangers (7)--4-3 Rangers
Boston (3) vs. Montreal (6)--4-2 Bruins
Pittsburgh (4) vs. Tampa Bay (5)--4-2 Penguins
Blackhawks (8) / Canucks (1)--Canucks in 2
Kings (7) / Sharks (2)--Sharks in 5
Coyotes (6) / Red Wings (3)--Yotes in 6
Predators (5) / Ducks (4)--Ducks 6


Rangers (8) / Capitals (1)--Caps in 6
Sabres (7) / Flyers (2)--Flyers in 5
Habs (6) / Bruins (3)--Bruins in 4
Lightning (5) / Penguins (4)--Lightning in 7
Blackhawks (8) / Canucks (1)--Canucks in 6
Kings (7) / Sharks (2)--Sharks in 5
Coyotes (6) / Red Wings (3)--Wings in 5
Predators (5) / Ducks (4)--Preds in 7

So Pylon has nailed us, picking every series correctly. What did he know that Trudeau & I didn't? What have I learned?

  1. It doesn't matter when you think the Red Wings are old and injured--it especially doesn't matter when the team you're picking to beat them is the Coyotes, with a system geared toward going to OT and salvaging a point.
  2. Preds/Ducks, I was picking "one great forward line" versus "no-name team"; what I should have been picking was "Vezina-nominated goalie" versus "a groin pull away from starting Dan Ellis in the playoffs". Now, Rinne was not the difference-maker in that series, but hell, neither was that putatively great forward line.

Going into the second round (already!) the smart money's got to be all over the Caps, rested and untested from their first round, against the skin-of-their teeth Lightning. I've got a bottle riding on this series: I believed the Roloson/Brewer acquisitions made a huge difference for the Lightning and was crowing about it; silent partner Bogdan von Pylon--as usual--wasn't buying my bullshit.

His counterclaim was, if I can reconstruct it in its entirety:

You're a fucking idiot.

So, naturally, I doubled down and said "this locks up a second-round appearance". He (naturally) upped the ante and speculated on my Oedipal tendencies and came up with some baroque non-sequitur about him winning if the Lightning lost in the first round and me winning if they made the conference finals. I took the bet.

Unfortunately, while I think Yzerman made two spectacular pickups in Roloson (game 7 shutout!) and Brewer (led his team in ice time!), they drew what I think are far the two toughest matchups for them in the East. I think this is a hard-fought five-or-six-game series. I don't think von Pylon's buying me a bottle. Caps.

Hewing to the East, I'd love to be able to pick the Bruins here. They've got a likeable roster and all. But the Flyers were dominant the first 3/4 of the season, and it says here they're back on track after a fairly rigorous test against the ever-doomedplucky Sabres. Flyers creepy depth overcomes the full-hearts-clear-eyes Bruins. (Seriously: the Flyers have creepy depth. Name another squad that rolls three deep in goal. You can't!)

Wings/Sharks. Fuck.

I've watched a lot of Sharks this year. Everything I know about hockey tells me that their second line is fantastic--so good that they actually make the choke-prone first line essentially irrelevant when it comes to predictions about the team choking. The Sharks have had an entire shitty season to fold, and they haven't done it yet: They got through a brutal stretch of regular-season underachieving that had them barely a playoff squad at the All-Star break; they came up with a world-class comeback against a very game Kings squad. It looks like they've finally ascended to real contender status.

But there are two things I can't shake. First, I don't trust their defensive depth. They just might have the best forward corps in the league--talented, well-constructed, perfectly fitted to their respective roles--and their goaltending is cup-worthy, given that their goalie won a cup last year. (And in this degraded world where second-rate scrubs like Fleury and Osgood can hoist a few, pretty much any goalie better than Mikka Kiprusoff is guaranteed to get a ring on that finger like Beyonce eventually.)

That defense, though, doesn't have a real number-one, and it gets thin as hell and does so in a big hurry. I have to think that Detroit can expose that.'s Detroit. I'm scared of picking against them--like I always do--and looking like an idiot--like I always do. So Detroit. But not because San Jose "chokes" or anything stupid like that. Just because Detroit is a great hockey team, like they always are.


Fuck it: Predators in four. Canucks shot their wad getting past Chicago, and the coach has lost the room. Or, if he hasn't, it's because it's a room full of gutless worms. (This will go up in the morning. As I write this, it's 0-0 in the second; Canucks have 23 shots; Predators have 6. Ahem.)

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