EDITOR’S NOTE: You guys know I’m not the world’s biggest numbers and analysis hockey guy. That said, being a hockey site, it would be shammockery if I didn’t have a Stanley Cup Playoff preview. So, let’s go Buccigross on this and break down each team and their matchup through song. Today is the Western Confernece. Bear with me.
#8 Colorado Avalanche
“You got a reaction.
You got a reaction, didn’t you?
You took a white orchid.
You took a white orchid, turned it blue.”
-”Blue Orchid” by The White Stripes
#1 San Jose Sharks
“I think it’s disgusting, believing and trusting.
If I gave a fuck there would be nothing for me to prove
Although it’s amusing, it’s slightly confusing
I’ve done all I can but her ego is still hard to move.”
-”Pathetic” by Blink-182
Really, there should be no questions as to whether or not the San Jose Sharks will beat the Colorado Avalanche in round one. There is just a cacophony of talent on this San Jose team up front, at defense, and in goal. They are not that old, but with just the right amount of veteran talent and young players. They have one of the game’s best passers in Joe Thornton, one of it’s best scorers in Dany Heatley, one of it’s better all-around centerman in Dan Boyle and more depth running out the wazoo.
But you all know the story with the Sharks: They can’t get it done in the big time. They made the Western Conference Final in 2004 and have not made it back since, despite the embarrassment of riches the club is able to keep. So, it makes a first round series with the up-and-coming Avs’ a must-watch for anyone with an upset fetish. Make no mistake, the Avs’ second half drops will become less and less until this team is ready to win, and it’ll be sooner rather than later.
Still, even I – in my heart of hearts – can’t fathom how that Avalanche are able to win more than a game in this series. Maybe it’s my trusting nature. Maybe it’s my gut feeling that Heatley, who’s at least been to a Final, is what it takes to get over the hump. Maybe it’s the optimist in me thinking that they simply cannot screw this up again. Part of me wants to be big and bold and say the Avs make it happen, but no sir. Sharks in five.
#7 Nashville Predators
You’re not looking back this time.
You know it’s alright.
I’m stepping on the cracks and I feel fine.
Don’t waste your breath”
-”Sputter” by The Academy Is…
#2 Chicago Blackhawks
“It’s caused a feeling of anticipation.
When all of a sudden you know what’s gonna happen
They saw the paranoids, they rebuild your world
They neither eat nor sleep they have no name.
You know, here in the worst, I will become, the best of them all.”
-”Problems” by Against Me!
It surprises me how few folks think the Preds will give the Hawks a scare, but I’m totally on that bandwagon. I think the Preds work their defensive system to perfection, Jason Arnott is a proven leader and Stanley Cup Winner, and Patrick Hornqvist has been the find of the year that no one is talking about. By all means, I think the Blackhawks are due to learn a lesson, and the Predators might be the ones to teach it to them.
That said, the Predators couldn’t win in San Jose or Detroit during their four previous playoff rounds, two of the toughest American barns in the NHL, and Chicago isn’t any easier to play in. Nashville needs to win at least one game on the road to win this series and more than likely two. I don’t see that happening, no matter how many stars don’t show up for the Blackhawks in this series. I think the Hawks will take the Preds lightly at first and pick up the pace and beat them. Blackhawks in 7.
#6 Los Angeles Kings
“Mommy’s little monster dropped out of school.
Mommy’s little monster broke all the rules.
He loves to go out drinking with the boys,
He loves to go out and make some noise.”
-”Mommy’s Little Monster” by Social Distortion
#3 Vancouver Canucks
“I die, if you only met my eyes before you pass by.
Will you pause to break my heart?”
-”Too Shy to Scream” by AFI
This is it, my upset pick. The Sedin twins are very good players. Bobby Lou finally won himself a big game. There is some depth of talented players in Vancouver and they can score for sure. LA is a young club with an unproven goaltender and, in fact, a mostly unproven roster on the hole unless you count Handzus or Smyth.
That said, I can’t get over the notion that I just like this Los Angeles team more than I like the Canucks. I don’t think Luongo will play well in the series. I think he’s looked mediocre down the stretch, and I don’t believe in regular season play affecting playoff series, but it can’t be good to have Luongo give up eight to the Kings just a few weeks back, can it?
I think Anze Kopitar is going to have a big series, and Drew Doughty is ready to come out as one of the game’s best defensemen. I think the stars will align for LA and this city will have a grand love affair with it until San Jose beats them in round two. I’m a big believer in mojo, and I believe the Kings just have it and the Canucks just don’t. I’m afforded one “gut feeling” pick each round and this is it. Kings in 6.
#5 Detroit Red Wings
“We tried to push forward
Now we’re pointing at the scoreboard and it feels so amazing.
And the crowd’s going crazy.”
-”Barely Breathing” by The Hold Steady
#4 Phoenix Coyotes
“And all I need from you
Could be thing that leaves us both up here forever.
I’m gonna send a little rain your way.
Rain that makes the flowers bloom”
-”Kill the Messenger” by Jack’s Mannequin
Is it an upset if the Coyotes win? Apparently it is. I think the Yotes are just the panacea the Red Wings have been dreading. Phoenix plays a heavy defensive system that they execute to perfection along with a great goaltender just waiting to have his star turn in the postseason. I think Detroit played so well just to get to this position, that there’s no way in hell they’re gonna’ play nearly as well in this series.
Detroit is obviously very talented, but don’t forget the playoff experience Ilya Bryzgalov got while with the Ducks after the lockout. They were not afraid to go to him in a crunch and he’d play very well. Howard is experiencing his first playoff tournament. If he gives up a couple bad ones early, I think it’d be awful interesting to see what happens.
I like Phoenix’s team. I think Shane Doan’s been waiting for a chance to captain a Stanley Cup contender. You get the sense that some players are born leaders, and Doan so obviously fits that mold. I don’t think Phoenix makes it to the Cup Final or even a Conference Final, but this is not the Detroit team of last year, healthy or not. I just think that without Marian Hossa, there’s simply not enough offensive talent to work their way around the Coyotes system. Coyotes in 7.