Monday, May 14, 2012

NHL Round 3

So. I'm not entirely sure I should even bother making any more predictions as I did woefully poorly in that regard in Round 2. I only chose the correct winner for one of the four series. On the other hand, that means I was wrong in three of the series which is exactly the same number of incorrect predictions I made in Round 1, so...maybe I didn't do any worse at all. The problem now becomes the fact that there are only two series in Round 3, so I clearly can't get three of them wrong. Well, being a stubborn man (born a Taurus in the Year of the Ox) I am going to go ahead and keep plugging away until the last game is played.

First things first: the recap of my failures and one glowing success of Round 2.

Phoenix vs. Nashville - I took Nashville in 6 (Phoenix won in 5)

Washington vs. New York Rangers - I took Washington in 6 (New York won in 7, but there was that pesky penalty to Joel I probably should have had this one right)

New Jersey vs. Philadelphia - I took Philly in 5 (New Jersey won in 5)

Los Angeles vs. St. Louis - I took L.A. in 7 (they won in 4)

So, 1-for-4 and I wasn't even close in the length of the only round where I called the correct winner. I guess it's not time to give up my day job yet? What's that? Oh, this is my "day job" right now? Sigh. Great.

Dustin Brown killing the Canucks
Well, onwards and upwards. Let's start with the Los Angeles vs. Phoenix series. The only really smart thing I said on that blog post was this: "I really feel like this might be Los Angeles' year, so I am going to keep taking them until they lose." After they knocked off the top two teams in the Western Conference in a total of 9 games, clearly I think this more than ever. I'm not about to jinx them by predicting sweeps at this stage, though. Also, I said something last round about Phoenix having the best record in the NHL after February 1 (smart) but that I didn't expect that kind of thing to matter the deeper they went into the playoffs (not smart). They relatively easily dismantled a Nashville team that had just done the same thing to Detroit, so Phoenix clearly isn't done yet. But I really do feel that Los Angeles is just that good - the best #8 seed in a very, very long time. They have an outstanding coach, they have some absolute superstars at every position (Richards, Doughty, Quick) and their captain (Dustin Brown) has found not only another gear but apparently entirely new sets of hands and feet. The Kings will win this series. I'm going to say Los Angeles in 6 but with a wink and a nod.

Martin Brodeur doing what he does best
Now New York Rangers vs. New Jersey. I am going to start this by saying I have, truly, absolutely no idea who will win this. I said of the Rangers in Round 2 that "I believe this is a team that can be had " and I was right, there's no doubt about that; however, here they are in Round 3, once again bowed but not broken. They won one game in triple overtime when it appeared the Capitals simply ran out of gas; they won another in truly heartbreaking fashion, when they entered the last minute of play down by a goal but were aided by a terrible double-minor penalty to the Caps' Joel Ward and tied the game with around 6 seconds left to send it to overtime, where they won on a power-play goal during the second minor to Ward. They then proceeded to strut around on camera after the game telling anyone who would listen to them that they "deserved" to win. Yeah, that's not how it works. They were ridiculously lucky to win that game and it should have finished off Washington right then and there to have lost in such gut-wrenching fashion, but it did not (which says a great deal about the coaching abilities of Dale Hunter). The series still went to 7 games and they won that last game by one goal. So it would be really easy to say the Rangers are lucky to have gotten to where they are now; but then you realize that they have allowed three goals or fewer in every single one of their 14 games so far this year and you remember that they were second overall in the NHL in points this season and it just gets muddy. On the other hand, all the Devils have done is win two series (on hostile) ice and they play the same style game in and game out - a style that lends itself well to an extended playoff run. Also, Marty Brodeur is nearing the end of his Hall-of-Fame career and seems particularly focused this spring. So I'm going to, once again, bet against the Rangers - if for no other reason than I simply cannot stand their coach, John Tortorella - and choose New Jersey in 6. There will also be at least one game that will require Shanaban to rouse from his recent stupor, with bloodletting aplenty.

As I had hoped, I have nothing but predictions this time around. The lunacy of Round 1 seems so long ago, even as the spectre of another Rangers-Devils melee looms before us. On the other hand, with the exception of the Rangers-Capitals series, I didn't think much of the hockey was particularly compelling in Round 2. Perhaps that will balance out better in this round. See you here, one last time, in around 2 weeks!


Even though I posted these predictions today, this entry was written and finalized before last night's game between Phoenix and Los Angeles. I'd like to think I wouldn't have made any changes had the Kings lost; however, I don't need to worry about it now as they won - their 6th straight road victory. They are still my picks to win their first-ever Stanley Cup this year, heaping more garbage on Brian Burke's asinine assertion a year or so ago that it's not ever a good thing to "sneak" into the playoffs in 8th position because you don't have a chance from there. Not that I'm bitter.

Ok, I'm pretty bitter. Burke is a moron.

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