April 13th, 2010

My Equally Valid Opinion


Strap on your home team headgear and shave your visage, cuz it's PLAYOFF TIME up in this national obsession!

Previously on MEVO 2010:
9/10 pix
Olympic Czech-up

Or, Is It Too Late To Call This A "Rebuilding Year?"

Florida Panthers (predicted 4th; came 14th)

For my money, the hit on David Booth may not have been the most egregious of a year which finally saw the league decide enough was enough, but it was the most damaging in the long term for any club. Without their touted left winger, the Panthers could only watch in horror as Keith Ballard did everything in his power to make Tomas Vokoun's life a living hell. (Which admittedly wasn't much: Vokoun is arguably the best underutilized goalie in the league right now, which probably means he's getting traded to Ottawa next season.) Not to mention the lost opportunity for the US Olympic team. Worst of all, Mike Richards not only escaped without a suspension, he also earned a spot of his own on Canada's gold medal team. All we need now is one of those drawn-out ownership battles with Balsillie and Florida's humiliation will be complete.

New York Rangers (predicted 5th; came 9th)

In fairness, I was a shootout goal away from getting this one right. As it is, the playoffs will feel a little emptier without my main man Johnny T yellin' at people from behind the bench, although this also means no Avery idiocy.

Carolina Hurricanes (predicted 6th; came 11th)

Good news: Eric Staal is still a really good player. Bad news: Alexandre Picard is still a really bad player. But the ugly news is that something's gotta be done with Brind'amour. He put up the worst numbers of his career, went minus 29 without even ten goals to show for it, and there's still a year left on his contract. Although given today's front-heavy league, it's probably not a big salary cap hit if the 'Canes drop him.

Minnesota Wild (predicted 4th; came 13th)

They didn't score the fewest goals in the league (that honour goes to Calgary, with Boston a very close second) but they got less -- and gave up more -- than the Rangers, so maybe the Gaborik trade did have an effect after all.

Edmonton Oilers (predicted 6th; came dead last)

I actually feel better about this since Calgary missed out as well. Both sides of the Battle Of Alberta were losers, and that appeals to my east coast elitism. And hey, now we know this year's #1 draft pick is most likely to stay in Canada!

Anaheim Ducks (predicted 7th; came 11th)

Not sorry about this at all. Also not entirely sure how it happened, or even who plays for this team now, actually. I'm sure they were as surprised as I was to see the likes of Colorado and Phoenix crawling past them on the standings.

Columbus Blue Jackets (predicted 8th; came 14th)

So, was last season's playoff appearance a fluke? I don't think so. Look at the situation with Ken Hitchcock. After he was ousted, you weren't gonna bring in a ringer to turn the team around in a single season. But they'll get someone decent in there, the team will warm up again, and they'll be back next year. Probably they'll fire out of the gate with a 17-5 record and then waffle around for the season. I'm from Ottawa, I know how it is.

And Now: The Playoffs!

Conference Quarter-Finals

Washington (1) def. Montreal (8) in 5

Against any other first-round opponent, I might've called for the sweep, but this is the Habs we're talking about. The Bell Centre will be rockin' for game three, and Halak will have one of those inspirational lockdown performances, the kind he had against Sweden in the Olympics. Other than that it's cruise control for cool: ALLCAPS.

New Jersey (2) def. Philadelphia (7) in 6

Or seven, depending who Pronger knocks out in the early going. (Maybe he can collide with Mike Richards? I would laugh so hard.) I've heard that Boucher isn't as bad as everyone thinks he is but I'm not havin' it. Besides, the Flyers have that classic shooting style where they actually put it on the net, and that's no way to beat Brodeur. You gotta do stuff like bad angle shots and crease deflections and tricking him into giving up dribblers, and Philly just isn't bad enough.

Buffalo (3) def. Boston (6) in 7

I still have no idea where the Sabres came from to win the division, but they've got one thing that Boston doesn't: a clear number 1 goalie. Swapping back and forth from Thomas to Rask is almost a given, maybe after Chara falls over and squashes one of them, and the platooning will stretch the series out, but ultimately Ryan Miller is too good this season. Should also be quietly violent, given both teams' propensity for sustained periods of skill play followed by brief episodes of roughhousing.

Ottawa (5) def. Pittsburgh (4) in 5

I defer to my brother-in-law Rick:

RICK: "Who did you guys draw in the playoffs?"
ME: "The Penguins. We got injury problems, though."
RICK: "Oh yeah? Who'd you lose?"
ME: "Alex Kovalev."
RICK: "Psh, Sens in five then."

For the record, he is a diehard Habs fan, presumably burned one too many times by AK27's inability to score in the postseason.

San Jose (1) def. Colorado (8) in 5

Or six, if Matt Duchene grows a laser cannon out of his chest and disintegrates Patrick Marleau's arms. But he could still get assists by kicking the puck to Heatley or Thornton. It's also harder to choke when you haven't got hands. Heyo.

Chicago (2) def. Nashville (7) in 4

Again, no idea what the hell the Preds are doing in the playoffs. What are you supposed to do when your top scorer is Steve Sullivan and he has fewer points than the top five Blackhawks?

Vancouver (3) def. Los Angeles (6) in 5

Expect this to be the most whined-about series on Twitter, since Wil Wheaton is a Kings fan.

Detroit (5) def. Phoenix (4) in 6

Oh, you Coyotes. I am so proud of you for finally finding your game, but I regret to inform you that your elusive series win (you haven't been to the second round since you were the Jets) will remain out of reach due to the tenacious Red Wings. Remember not two months ago, when we were only talking about Detroit in terms of whether or not they'd even reach the postseason? And then one month ago, when they were clearly moving up, and there was talk that the top seeds were self-sabotaging to avoid confronting them in the first round? Yeah, here we are, and they've pulled themselves up to an incredible fifth place finish. Talk about knowing when to peak. Surely there's too much gas in that tank to go quietly against even the most delightful of cinderella stories.

Conference Semi-Finals

Washington (1) def. Ottawa (5) in 7

I am so utterly pumped for this matchup. Words cannot describe. I should probably buy tickets. But I'm still realistic about our chances.

New Jersey (2) def. Buffalo (3) in 6

They split the first two games, but then Andy Greene forcibly removes Tim Connolly's head, Kovalchuk sorts out Miller, and it all goes downhill from there.

Detroit (5) def. San Jose (1) in 7

The Sharks take game 5, setting up the perfect two-game fall from grace. I haven't decided if I'll feel bad for Thornton or gloat over Heatley. Probably both!

Vancouver (3) def. Chicago (2) in 5

The speculation in Chi-town is that Niemi is a lock to start in the playoffs. The wild mass guessing here at MEVO-HQ is that Niemi will collapse hopelessly in the second round. Luongo will have his own minor breakdown -- the man is like a cat in both elasticity and personality -- but all he has to do is play slightly better while the Sedins score the goals.

worrrrr, what's with the bright lights guys

Conference Finals

Washington (1) def. New Jersey (2) in 6

Yknow, Brodeur isn't so tough once you figure him out. Just get Ovechkin to stand in front of him yelling, "hey, over here, look at me, I'ma shoot on your goal and score!" and let Mike Green slip the puck in behind him while he's distracted. Hopefully by this point the Caps have established which of their goalies is less like Swiss cheese.

Vancouver (3) def. Detroit (5) in 7

With three overtime games, completely ruining the sleeping patterns of the entire east coast. Of course, at least two of these barn-burners will be followed by immediate blowouts, giving us all a chance to catch up again. Do not order nachos unless you're sure you can eat them all without flopping forward and falling asleep face-down in them.

Stanley Cup Final

Washington (1) def. Vancouver (3) in 5

Think about it this way: if we give Ovechkin the cup this year, he's tied at one with Crosby, and then we can let some other teams have it over the next few seasons before we renew the rivalry. Doesn't that sound good? No? How about heckling Alex Burrows after he starts throwing water bottles at a ref who doesn't like his scraggly playoff beard? Yeah, I knew I'd find something for you to like in this series.

As per the norm, "ongoing series-recall mode" is in effect -- if I get any of these matchups again at any point, I gotta go with the original call, no matter how much I might dislike it when it rolls around. No takebacks! That is how we roll.