Hey now, yes I’m late for the preview party but I had too much schoolwork and needed to finish. First up, I’ll preview and predict the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Boston vs.Detroit, not as much of a mismatch as one might assume. Detroit has re-tooled with some good young talent, see Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar. Two incredibly talented euros with dangling talent worthy of Datsyukian comparisons. Goaltending is not real solid with Jimmy Howard IMHO and look for Jonas the ‘Monster’ Gustaffson to get a start or two and maybe even in relief. Boston is well balanced, nasty, skilled up front and on the blueline, and has quite possibly the best goalie in the world in Tuuka Rask. Boston in six.
Pittsburgh vs. Columbus
This one has already started with the Pens rallying for a one goal victory on Wednesday night. Columbus has great goaltending with Sergei Bobrovsky and is rolling, going 6-3-1 to end the season and vault past the DeadThings to get the Pens instead of Boston. Pittsburgh has most of their stars returning from injury and this presents a formidable task for a Blue Jacket franchise that has NEVER won a playoff game. C Ryan Johansen needs to explode and D Jack Johnson needs to step up to realize the huge potential he has displayed for the last couple of years. Wouldn’t hurt for James Wisniewski to have breakout post season and the rest of the ex Rangers like Artem Anisimov and Brandon Dubinsky to fulfill their considerable promise. Pens in 5.
Rangers vs. Flyers
Hard to pick this one because I don’t know which Flyers team will show up. Plus, Philly goalie Steve Mason was injured in the last game of the season is scratched for the 1st game, Ray Emery in net. The Flyers have a formidable group of forwards led by Claude Giroux, Jakob Voracek and The Vinster, Vinny Lecavalier. Very solid blueliners in Braden Coburn, the vet Kimmo Timmonen and new addition Andrew MacDonald. The ?s appear to be in goal and whether the Flyers can penetrate King Henrik’s armor. Lundquist has been outstanding in the last half of the season (he was pretty bad in the beginning) and New York is 3rd on the PK and fourth in GAA. They have trouble scoring but are fairly well balanced in their attack, led by Rick Nash’s 26 goals. Going with my heart: Flyers in seven.
Tampa Bay vs. Les Habitantes de Montreal
This series also began yesterday with the Canadiens winning a barn burner in OT 5-4. There was and will continue to be much smacking around of each other and look for this to take its toll on players throughout the series. Steven Stamkos was skating with purpose last night, especially on a coast to coast scoring play where he unleashed a laser bolt of a shot that Price may have heard but did not see. Tampa has many players that most casual fans wouldn’t know but had a 100 point season, much of which was spent without their star winger Stamkos. Montreal finished one point behind the Lightning and has Danny Briere, Andre Markov, Brian Gionta and P.K. Subban, all players well known and accomplished. Only Gionta has won a Cup, with New Jersey and all the Habs are under the microscope in the hockey crazy town of Montreal. Habs in seven.