Starting tonight I’m a Nashville Predators fan. I kinda always liked them and last year was afraid that they could have eliminated the Blackhawks in the first round, but as we know, that was not to be. In the Eastern Conference I’m still thinking of who I want to ultimately come out of there. No real favourite yet for me. Here’s my preview of the “elite” eight.
Nashville Predators vs. Vancouver Canucks: For the first time in their history the Predators will advance into the second round of the playoffs. Good for them and good for head coach Barry Trotz, who is the only coach the franchise has known. Nashville has no “real” superstar offensively, but has Shea Weber a Norris Trophy finalist and Pekka Rinne, a Vezina Trophy finalist. This team beats you with defence, goaltending, and physicality. Being slightly bigger than the Hawks, with a different style, the Canucks will have seven games to try and figure this team out. Vancouver meanwhile coming off an epic seven game series against the Chicago Blackhawks has erased a demon finally. Beating and advancing past the Blackhawks after being eliminated by them two consecutive years, the Canucks may have won their “Cup”. They certainly celebrated like it, including this awful display by some Dad. If the
sisters twinkie twins Sedins can get themselves untracked, and Bobby Lose stops doing pushups while trying to make saves, maybe they get past them. I doubt it though. I think that Barry Trotz and his team is primed to take down a Canuck team that could be spent. They could be breathing a sigh of relief as well, which makes them ripe for the picking. Prediction: Predators in seven.
Detroit Red Wings vs. San Jose Sharks: A series that I think promises to be almost as good as the Predators and Canucks, features two teams that each have something to prove. The Wings need to prove that they aren’t too old, too slow and have enough goaltending with Jimmy Howard in net. When healthy, Henrik Zetteberg, Pavel Datysuk and Nicklas Lidstrom can be three of the most dynamic players on a team. The puck possession style they play can not only control a game, but can frustrate the opposition as well. Mike Babcock is one of the best coach’s in the game today, and his chess like moves will certainly affect the outcome. San Jose and company has to prove someday that they can win “the big one”. Joe Thornton helped them advance past the Los Angeles Kings, but in this series he’s going to need Dany Heatley and Patrick Marleau as well. Goaltending is an issue with this team. Is it Antti Niemi of last season’s Cup run that shows up, or will he be a ghost of the past? Prediction: Sharks in six.
Boston Bruins vs. Philadelphia Flyers: This is going to be a bruiser of a series. A good old style matchup with lots of physicality. Nathan Horton the “hero” if you will for the Bruins in the first round is getting his first taste of playoff hockey and I hate to say it, but has responded so far. I’m not liking it, but whatever….. Tim Thomas can not only steal a game, but can steal a series which he may have to do with all the offence that the Flyers have. Tomas Kaberle is going to have to show up big if Boston has a chance. The Flyers meanwhile have the onus of trying to get back to the finals with questionable goaltending. Seems like I keep writing that, but in different ways. Brian Boucher is most likely the guy in net, that is until he gives up 4 goals on 8 shots. Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, Claude Giroux, and the nastyness of Scott Hartnell and the grit of Ville Leino could be too much for the Bee’s. Prediction: Philly in seven.
Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Washington Capitals: Tampa comes off a thrilling series win over the Pittsburgh Penguins to take on the high flying, but better defensively Washington Capitals. This will be the offensive gem of this round as Tampa with Steven Stamkos, Martin St. Louis, and Vinny Lecavalier can provide some serious scoring punch. don’t forget Simon Gagne who can get on a streak as well. Dwayne Roloson the ageless wonder in goal has proven in the past with Edmonton that he can carry you. If you provide him enough offensive support he just might. Washington is a different team than what we’re used to seeing. While they still have Alexander Ovechkin, Alexander Semin and all that offensive firepower, they are paying more attention to defence. What does that mean? Instead of beating you 6-5, they’re beating you 5-2. If Michael Neuvirth can continue to handle the pressure, this could be one of the best matchups we’ll see. One explosion of f-bombs by Bruce Boudreau however could tilt the scale towards Tampa. Of all the coach’s that are in this round, he has the most to lose by going berserk. Prediction: Caps in six.
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Tags: Alexander Ovechkin Alexander Semin Barry Trotz Bruce Boudreau Dwayne Roloson Henrik Zetterberg Jimmy Howard Joe Thornton Mike Babcock Nathan Horton Pekka Rinne The Sedins The Sedins Sisters Vancouver Canucks Washington Capitals