Sports by Randy Charles Morin.
Copyright 2005-10 Randy Charles Morin
Owned by Rapid Spiral Development Inc.
A series by series predictions for the 1st round of the Stanley Cup playoffs and a glimpse into the next 3 rounds. The NHL playoffs since the 2004-05 lockout has been a unpredictable beast. You make the playoffs on the last day of the regular season and you find your way to the Stanley Cup finals. What makes a good regular season team is clearly not what makes a good playoff team. Here's my sense of what might happen this playoff season.
The Minnesota Wild have badly underperformed and scratched their way into a playoff spot. That said, a hot goalie and some timely scoring might give them a chance. But goaltending and scoring have not been their forte this season. They do have some grit with Cal Clutterbuck, but on the whole this team is soft. Not a recipe for winning the Lord Stanley's mug. An underdog to win a series and a longshot to win it all.
And the Wild are playing the recent Stanley Cup winning Chicago Blackhawks. The Hawks are loaded with talent; Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane. Their was the question of goaltending at the start of the season, but Corey Crawford has been great. The consensus is that the Hawks are the team to beat in the West.
This isn't the Red Wings we knew in years past. There's no Nicklas Lidstrom. End of story. It's just not the same team.
The Ducks have been an off-and-on team for years with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. They even won a Stanley Cup a few years back. I don't think this team has the depth to make it far in the playoffs, but I do think they have enough to handle the Wings. Saku Koivu and Teemu Selanne are getting older by the day.
For the 1st time in a long while, the Sharks aren't expected to do anything this playoff. They're suppose to boy out to the much better Canucks. And with perenial non-playoff performers like Joe Thornton, they have every excuse. But remember, they are very deep in talent and someday, if Joe is willing, they might surprise in the playoffs. And don't forget, that's a Cup winning goalie between the pipes; Anti Niemi.
The Canucks are very much like the Sharks of a few years ago. Some playoff success, but everybody expected so much more. And because of injury, they'll be starting the playoffs with long-time playoff disappointment Roberto Luongo in net. Whichever team loses this series, will cement their reputation as playoff losers.
An extremely talented team that should have little problem taking care of the Blues. But I'm not sure a team led by the party boys (Jeff Carter and Mike Richards) can make it two years in a row. I'm thinking the hangover from last summer hasn't quite warn off yet.
The Blues are... well... a blue colar team. No stars and a lot of names even I don't recognize. Just a lot of hard work. Their goaltending load was split between three goalies. It's very rare that teams with no talent advance in the playoffs.
The worst run organization in the NHL made the playoffs on the back of their one superstar John Tavares. That's about as far as they'll get. I doubt they could handle an injury riddled Penguins lineup in a seven game series. And the Pens are getting healthy.
The Canadiens are looking back between the pipes and putting their faith in Carey Price. A career 8-15 playoff record. This might be Price's last chance. If he falters again, then the fans in Montreal might start calling for a change.
I really liked the makeup of the Rangers at the start of the season. Things didn't go as expect and the team was rebuilt mid-season. Mid-season of an already short season. Henrik Lundqvist could put the team on his back lead them thru a few playoff rounds, but I doubt it. Teams rebuilt mid-season rarely go anywhere in the playoffs.
Alex Ovechkin is on fire and we're heading into the playoffs. This team is gonna live and die on his stick. I don't see much problem dispensing the Rangers. Then... in the 2nd round, it's OV time or bust.
As a long-time Leafs fan, what a relief. Playoff games. Everything sits on James Reimer's shoulders. They're a tough and fast team that can score. Can they keep the puck out of the net? Reimer did it all year.
The Bruins are either the toughest team in the playoffs or the 2nd toughest. And the Leafs are either the toughest or 2nd. Expect a lot of hitting. Fighting. Injuries. Whomever wins is likely gonna get beat the next round anyway. This is war.
For years, I've killed my time playing online Facebook games. I've done all the biggies; Farmville, Sims Social, Sims City Social, War Commander, etc. But eventually with all of these games, you hit a static point where there's little progress in the game and it gets boring. This is true of all social games on Facebook that I've played. Add this to the fact that I'm not really interested in building farms, apartments or cities and you have a recipe for getting bored in less than a month. Then came War Commander. I really liked this one, because at least it's something masculine. Unfortunately, I hit a point where I'd attack a resource and get attacked back within a few days. Then I'd attack back and they'd attack back. Then I'd attack back and they'd attack back. Got bored! Stopped playing.
Introducing Madden NFL 13 Social. I love sports. I don't think this game is much different. You still build something, in this case, a football team. When I first started playing it crashed all the time and I was gonna quit, except that I had finally found a sports social game on Facebook. I was playing football games against other users and winning some and losing some. That was fun!
I've hit a wall in building my team. I rarely find a replacement player that's better than the one I'm currently using. In fact, the last time I upgraded a position, I found the new full back wasn't as good as my previous and eventually switched to my old full back. In a later post, I'll give you a run down of my team.
In the meanwhile, I'm still playing football games against other real people on Facebook. I win most, but lose some. I generally have a straight forward run 95% of the time strategy that seems to be working for me. I've won my last 16 games.
The game is broken into four components.
I've used EA Sports Answer HQ to help my play. The forum itself is not user friendly at all. I had a very difficult time creating a username and now I have login issues. The forums are very difficult to read and posting isn't eay either.
This is by far the best game I've played on Facebook, but that's because I'm a sports nut. I've tried other sports games and didn't like them anywhere near as much as I luv Madden 13 Social.
The Hawks are a lot better than their 8th placing. They are defending Stanley Cup champs. They may have lost a lot of parts, but the core is still intact.
I've gotta believe the Canucks will finally pull it out. They are simply that good. Most goals. Least against. Olympic gold netminder. Hart and 2 Art Rosses.
Canucks in 7
But wait, this is the playoff no-showing Sharks led by the playoff disappearing show himself; Joe Thornton.
Still, its the injured Kings.
Sharks in 5
If you look at the skaters only, then you wonder the Yotes made the playoffs and how they might steal one game in this series.
The answer is the Bryz. In goal, this series is just as much a landslide against the Wings. How many games can Bryzgalov steal? Four? Maybe not.
Wings in 6
The Preds are a consistent team, that made the playoffs on team effort and great goaltending. Now we find out if Pekka can do this in the playoffs. Unfortunate he ran into the hottest team and goal scorer. Maybe next year.
Ducks in 6.
This is a no brainer. Without Lunqvist's best season ever, the Rangers may have been favs to finish overall. Unless Lunqvist steal games, I don't see the Rangers getting to game six.
The Caps are relatively healthy, although several players including Ovechkin missed games late in the season due to injuries. The Caps played great hockey down the stretch. There only weakness might be between the pipes where they have relatively inexperienced youngsters.
Caps in 5.
Very similar to the Rangers, where would the Sabres be without Ryan Miller? It wasn't Miller's finest season and worse, he may be experience the symptoms of a concussion. Without Miller, there's no series. Enroth has looked great all season, but he's no Miller.
Flyers may have the best overall playoff lineup, if and this is a big if... You don't look between the pipes.
Flyers in 5
Finally, a big time goalie matchup; Price v Thomas. And why not the most celebrated playoff rivalry of all time.
The winner will be the team that finds a way to score. Give the edge to the Bruins, since Price has been a playoff zero to date in his career.
Bruins in 7. And trust me, I want the Habs to win.
To play Crosby or not to play Crosby? That is the question. If he plays and is healthy and plays to his capability, then Pens win, else who knows. That's quite an if. Even if Crosby returns, the Pens are hardly Cup contenders without Malkin.
Roloson is key for the Lightning. Since the Bulin wall left Tampa, they've been a loss in net. Roloson is kinda old, is putting it mildly. Lightning can score, but can they keep the puck out?
Pens in 5
Wings v Sharks
Thornton, Marleau and Heatley combined for 1 goal, a combined -7 plus/minus and somehow they beat the Avalanche. Unless there big line wakes up and this isn't the 1st year the Thornton line sleeps thru the playoffs, then expect the Red Wings to win. Wings in 7.
Habs v Pens
OK, the Habs won the series, but solely on goaltending. As much as I think goaltending is the most important part of the game, you cannot win games consistantly when you are getting outshot 45 to 15 every night. Not to mention, they are playoff Sidney's Pens. Pens in 6.
Flyers v Bruins
The Flyers made the playoffs because the Rangers played worse. The flyers defeated the Devils because the Devils played worse. This isn't even a playoff worthy team. Marc Savard is returning to the Bruinds lineup that won round 1 without him. Bruins in 4.
Canucks v Blackhawks
A redo from last year. This series will likely produce the best hockey. I expect the winner to be in the Stanley Cup finals. I'm picking Luongo over Niemi, but it's pretty much a pick'em. Will Luongo and the Sedin's show up all series? Canucks in 7.
Sharks v Avs
This series comes down to one player, Joe Thornton. Joe rarely shows up to big games and usually gets pushed around, which is odd considering he's one of the biggest players on the ice. I doubt Joe will show and the Avs are good enough to beat the playoff-hapless Sharks. Avs in 7.
Hawks v Preds
The Hawks have the Preds beat in every facet of the game, except goaltending. But neither team is impressive in net. The Hawks could lose on goaltending, but otherwise, they far outclass the Preds. Hawks in 5.
Canucks v Kings
The Kings have no playoff experience to draw on. Most teams with little playoff experience simply don't know that they have to play better and harder in the playoffs. They'll know next year. Canucks in 5.
Coyotes v Wings
The Wing were the best team down the stretch. They are back. Contending for the Cup. The Yotes are happy they actually made the playoffs. Bryzgalov might steal a game or two. Not enough to beat the Wings. Wings in 6.
Sens v Pens
Ottawa is using a rookie playoff goalie (Elliot). One of their stars (Kovalev) is hurt. They had the worst goal differential of any team that made the playoffs. They are playing the defending Cup champs. Pens in 5.
Flyers v Devils
Flyers made the playoffs by playing slightly less horrible than the Rangers. Remember, they only had to win one of their last two games and they almost blew that too. They are playing Boucher in net only because they don't have anybody else who is eligible to play. Devils in 5.
Bruins v Sabres
The Bruins can't score goals. They score even less goals when Marc Savard is injured. Yes, he's out for the series. They score even less goals when playing Vezina candidate Ryan Miller. I just can't see the Bruins scoring enough goals. Sabres in 5.
Caps v Habs
The Canadian, like the Bruins, can't score goals. The Caps can. I cannot see Halak being capable of keeping them in a 7 game series. Even if Theodore falters, the Caps have playoff proven Varlamov. Caps in 5.
Here's my 1st round predictions for the 2009 NHL Playoffs.
My daughter and I submitted our predictions to a local pub. Here they are...
|Group A||Group B||Group C||Group D|
|Group A||Group B||Group C||Group D|
Red Wings vs Sharks
The Red Wings made it to the 2nd round on a horrible performance by the Flames. Unfortunately, they now have to play a much better team. The key to this series is Pavel Datsyuk. After a quick start in the playoffs, he's once again pulled his playoff disappearing act with 1 assist in his last 4 games. If Detroit wants to win, then Pavel has to show up. Go with the Sharks.
Ducks vs Canucks
Both the Canucks and Stars should've been eliminated in the first round but one of them had to win. If the Canucks are gonna win again, then Roberto Luongo is gonna be the reason, but that won't be enough. The Swedes are the key to this series. Can Markus Naslund, Henrik Sedin and Daniel Sedin score against the best defense in hockey; Chris Pronger, Francois Beauchemin and Scott Niedermeyer?
Defense: +2 Ducks
Sabres vs Rangers
The Rangers really don't have much chance here. They will need an amazing performance by Lundqvist to stand any chance. The key is gonna have to be Avery running Miller in the first 5 minutes of game one. The Rangers can't win this series straight up.
Senators vs Devils
The Devils played really bad against the Lightning and Brodeur bailed them out. The key to the series will be Emery. If Emery plays well, then the Senators should win, because the Devils simply don't compete outside of the crease.
Goaltending: +2 Devils
Offense: +2 Senators
Note: In the six series decided to date, I'm 6 for 6 in my predictions.
Red Wings vs. Flames
This looks like the easiest upset prediction in world history. The Red Wings are proven chokers and now minus Yzerman. The Flames on the other hand are known for playoff grit. The goaltending should be spectacular with Kiprusoff and Hasek. The key to the series is Datsyuk. He usually disappears in the playoffs and is likely the biggest reason that the Red Wings are known chokers.
Defense: +Red Wings
Offense: +Red Wings
Heart: +2 Flames
Ducks vs. Wild
There's a lot of people predicting upset here, but honestly, it just can't happen. The Oilers went to the finals last season on Pronger's back. He's now on the Ducks. Add Giguere's spectacular 2003 playoff, Scott Niedermayer (what can I can?), Teemu Selanne gets better in big tourney's and this team is loaded with playoff performers. The key is going to be the Wild's goaltending (Backstrom or Fernandez). Somebody between the Wild pipes is gonna have to play the best seven games of his life.
Defense: +2 Ducks
Canuks vs. Stars
This is a difficult one to predict. I wouldn't expect either team to go very far in this years playoff. This'll be the first time the Sedin's (Daniel and Henrik) are the go to guys on offense. This is also Luongo's first playoff go, but he's proved himself in World tournament before. In the other net is known playoff choker Marty Turco. The key to this series is whether the Star bother to show up.
Predators vs. Sharks
This is gonna be a very unexciting series. Except for the key player to be named later, I would expect the Sharks to win and get knocked out in the 2nd round. Can Joe Thornton break his streak of playoff choking (only 27 points in 46 games)? The key to this series will be Forsberg. Forsberg has scored within one point of a point per game in 11 straight playoffs. This guy is a playoff god.
Sabres vs. Islanders
This will likely be a walk, since the Sabres are healthy and had good playoff experience last season. With DiPietro coming back off injury and not having played in a couple weeks, he might be stale for the first game. He is the key to the series. If he doesn't play his best hockey for six games, then the Islanders will be in trouble. The Islander push for the playoff was impressive, but nobody expect them to win and I think they've already hit their goal, just getting into the playoffs.
Devils vs. Lightning
This series should prove what is more valuable. Great scorers or a great goalie. The Devils would not have made the playoffs without Brodeur and the Lightning would not have made the playoffs without Lecavalier and St. Louis. My money is on the Devils, mostly because of the massive goaltending advantage. Holmqvist is by far the worst starting goaltender in this year's playoff and Brodeur is the best. But, with the recent problems in the Devils organization, I wouldn't preclude an upset. The key to this series is behind the bench. Will the Devils play for Lamoriello after he fired their coach?
Goaltending: +2 Devils
Offense: +2 Lightning
Thrasher vs. Rangers
This is looking like an upset. The Thrashers are new the playoffs and that usually means bad things. On the other hand, the Trashers have a scary defense and great scoring. Even if the Rangers win, they'll get beat up. Avery is the wild card in this series. He could lose it with the stupidity he's known for or he could play rough but smart and even up the Thrasher's physical advantage.
Senators vs. Penguins
The Penguins are the team of the future, but the Senators could be the team of 2007. The Senators are prime for a good playoff. They've changed the team. Brought in players that have performed in big tournaments (Heatley). Like the Trasher series, 1st year playoff teams like Pittsburgh often don't play up to playoff speed. The key to this series will be Crosby. Duh!? He could just want to win now and it'll happen.
It's the end of the 2006-07 season and the Leafs will be watching the Islanders-Devils today to determine if they advance to the playoffs or the golf cource. I predict the golf course.
Here's my NHL Award Predictions: