I must be honest and admit that of all four major league sports, hockey is the one I’m less passionate about. I watch the games, I follow the news and I know which teams are good and which teams are not. However, I do start to follow it closely when the playoffs begin, which is tomorrow night.
And the NHL does have a great advantage. Their playoffs last longer. If I’m not mistaken, there will be hockey games until mid-June.
Anyway, let’s get down to the brass tacks and start projecting the ice battles that will ensue.
Boston Bruins vs. Detroit Red Wings: I’m totally biased on this one. The Bruins are my favorite team in the NHL due to my undying love for Boston. They snatched the President’s trophy this year and are huge Stanley Cup favorites. The Red Wings don’t have a brilliant team this year but they have tradition and tend to get stronger come the playoffs. My money is on the Bruins but it will be tough.
Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Montreal Canadiens: As with almost all the games in the playoffs, this is a tough one. Tampa Bay has home-ice advantage but they only won one game more than Montreal in the regular season. My guess is that the tradition of the team with most Stanley Cups in history will prevail and the Canadiens will pass.
Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Columbus Blue Jackets: At one point in the season Columbus was beating everyone and seemed poised to be Stanley Cup contenders. They had a slump afterwards, but they managed to make to the playoffs. However they are facing one of the league’s best teams which happen to have the world’s greatest player in Sydney Crosby. My guess is that Pittsburgh advances.
New York Rangers vs. Philadelphia Flyers: First of all this is a great derby. Great rivalry. The Flyers limped a little during the season and the Rangers have a wonderful goalie. I guess this one goes to the Big Apple.
Colorado Avalanche vs. Minnesota Wild: I’m a little biased on this one as well, due to my love of Denver. I happen to have been there this year and you could feel that the city was excited about the Avalanche season. I watched some of their games and they played really well. I don’t think you can write off Minnesota too easily, but my guess is that the Mile High city will prevail.
St. Louis Blues vs. Chicago Blackhawks: Of all the games in this first round, this one is the most interesting. The Blues are one of the best teams this year and the Blackhawks, despite a worse season than the last ones, are still great and are the current champions. Besides, there’s also a huge rivalry here. This one is a very tough one to pick and I think I’ll upset a great friend of mine, but I’m guessing St. Louis will pass. It should be great to watch.
Anaheim Ducks vs. Dallas Stars: In theory, this is the most unbalanced game. The Ducks have a very good team. Dallas? Not so much. I think Anaheim must pass without too much trouble.
San Jose Sharks vs. Los Angeles Kings: That’s a local derby. The Sharks finished the season eleven points ahead of the Kings. However the Kings have a good team, they are excited about the playoffs and they won the Stanley Cup only two years ago. I think even without home-ice advantage, the Kings will pass.
So, let’s review our picks: Boston, Montreal, Pittsburgh and New York in the Eastern conference. Colorado, St. Louis, Anaheim and Los Angeles in the Western conference.
Now, let’s just watch and enjoy!
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