Monday, May 14, 2012

Round 3

Well, this year's playoffs have pretty much been nothing like anyone expected or predicted. Unless you're Sutter and you're sitting back with your smug little grin waiting for your moment to say "I told you so." Ug. Wipe that smug look off your face.

So here we are at the Conference Finals and we're left with four teams vying for Lord Stanley's Cup. They're all hopeful if not a little worse for wear. Is anyone in Canada even still watching this thing? Anyone at all watching?

Eastern Conference

New York Rangers (1) VS NJ Devils (6)

New York. The only first seed still in this thing. And New Jersey. A battle of goaltenders. The Rangers haven't been flashy through the first two rounds. There haven't been a lot of hard hitting games or highlight reel plays. They are not an offensive force. There has, however, been solid defense and self control (not a lot of penalty minutes for this team). Lundquist has been the key to that solid defense, rallying the troops around him. They have simply played solid, well-rounded, team effort hockey, outliving and outlasting their opponents and staying steady in the face of close games. They seem like they are unfazed and unrattled...unless, of course, you're their coach who seems to always be a little rattled.

While they seemed to be a little off their game in the first round, New Jersey, especially Brodeur, came back to form in the last round against Philly, getting a well-rounded, all team effort from the whole team right from first line to fourth. Offensively, they've got guys like Kovalchuk playing well. The guy's got 12 points in the first two rounds. Not long as he stays healthy.

So how do they match up? By stats, Lundquist comes out on top of the goal tending battle. By stats. In the regular season, the teams split their match up with three games a piece, New York scoring more goals. But this is playoffs.

New York Rangers in 6.

Western Conference

Phoenix Coyotes (3) vs LA Kings (8)

Like the east, both of these teams are basing a lot of their playoff hopes on their goaltenders. And they can. Both Quick and Smith have proven themselves through the first two rounds. Both teams have had dismal power play performances. But hey, when you have penalty kills like they do, does it matter? Offensively, they've both been getting well rounded production with at least 13 players recording markers for their teams. Through these playoffs, LA seems to have been a bit more dynamic. They're riding the wave, so to speak. When two teams are as evenly matched (they came into the post season with only 2 points difference in their regular season totals), it seems that that will make the difference. It's like Edmonton (2006) and Calgary (2004); and 8th place seed, riding the wave.

So yes, as much as I would love to see that smug look wiped clean off Coach Sutter's face, I'm saying LA in 5.

And, just in case you're wondering, I have my Stanley Cup winner picked. I told Colin yesterday while sitting on the back deck in the sunshine. Stay tuned.

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