Tuesday, April 8, 2008


ICE GIRLS! The 2008 Stanley Cup playoffs are finally here! After a brutal playoff push that saw two Canadian teams get ousted, the Kaps and Lyers rise from the dead, and last year's Presidents' Trophy winner fizzle out, we're finally down to 16 teams. Let's take a look at the matchups and get into the blognostications.

Prince of Wales [Eastern] Conference
This is about as perfect a collection of eight Eastern teams that you can imagine, especially if you're a hockey traditionalist. While I would prefer jettisoning the Philthy Lyers and putting the Sabres in their spot, you really cannot ask for better matchups here. All of the teams in this conference are fighters, and none of them are a pushover. Best of all, there won't be a single game played south of D.C.! Screw you, South! Go enjoy the beach or NASCAR or dogfighting or something, and leave the hockey to us.

(1) Montreal vs. (8) Boston. A matchup of Original Six teams with a long history. Which reminds me: I made a sandwich the other day with honey maple turkey, cave-aged gruyere and wasabi mustard on toasted 7 grain bread. The ingredients by themselves were great but it just didn't work well together, sort of like this defensively minded but otherwise toothless Bruins team. Why French Canadians would chant in Spanish ("Olé, olé-olé-olé!") I'll never figure out. Habs in 5.

(2) Pittsburgh vs. (7) Ottawa. How far the Sens have fallen, and everyone has written them off. However, don't count them out here, because as long as the Pens have M.A.F. in goal I don't see them etching "Crosby" into the Cup. (This is my shocking pick of the bunch.) Sens in 7.

(3) Washington vs. (6) Philadelphia. What a fantastic run for the Kapital Komrades. This is just Year One of their resurgence (also known as "Finding Talent To Play With Ovechkin"), and while their late season momentum might propel them into the next round, that's about it. Expect a lot of late hits and soft goals given up by the Philthy Lyers. Typically, Philthy's slogan is "VENGEANCE NOW". Who, exactly, are they exacting revenge on? The league, for rightfully suspending their players for being dirty? Who did them wrong, besides their own management? Screw them. They shouldn't even be here. Kaps in 6.

(4) New Jersey vs. (5) New York Rangers. A rematch of 2005 where the Devs swept their Blueshirted nemeses, I see this as a better matchup between two teams that are mirror images of each other. Devils: world-class goaltending, weak power play; Rangers: great goaltending, weak defense. I said this last year, and I'm just going to cut-and-paste it in here: "New Jersey has had some serious ups and downs this year but as always it's about Brodeur, who had an amazing season this year." Interesting fact: Brodeur has played 164 career playoff games, while the rest of the starting goalies in the East (Price, Henrik, Thomas, Huet/Kolzig, Biron, Emery/Gerber, MAF/Conklin) have played a combined 107 (45 of which are Kolzig, who won't start for the Kaps). Devils in 6.

Clarence Campbell [Western] Conference
I'm not as impressed by this conference as I was last year, as there seem to be more fighters in the East, though the top 2 seeds are as tough as it gets.

(1) Detroit vs. (8) Nashville. Ahh, the mighty Red Wings are in first again. I'm getting so sick of typing that. Nashville was the only team in their division to hold their own against the Wings. But I don't see them emerging from this series against a loaded Wings team, despite their (scary) enthusiastic home crowd and the presence of Vince Gill. Wings in 5.

(2) San Jose vs. (7) Calgary. I have no idea what to make of Keenan's Calgary squad, since I've seen about 2 whole periods of them in action. Although Ignila scored 50 goals and carried this team, and Kiprusoff's been solid I don't think they have enough firepower. Nabakov has been borderline Vezina this year and I expect him to continue his stellar play. Sharks in 5.

(3) Minnesota vs. (6) Colorado. I like this Avs team, I don't know why. They have some good young talent mixed in with wily vets like Sakic and Forsberg. Oh, and I also will root for no team with Chris Simon as a member. Did anyone catch Ian "Stone Quarry" Laperriere fighting Martin "Zsa Zsa" Gaborik the other day? The former still had his gloves on because the latter was wearing a visor. What kind of fight is that? "Who throws a shoe? Honestly, you fight like a woman!" Avalanche in 6.

(4) Anaheim vs. (5) Dallas. I think I say this about two teams every year, so here we go again: can both of these teams lose in the first round? No? Has any team worn out their welcome faster than the Ducks? This season they've been predictably ornery, with Pronger being a complete douche. And although Nieds and Selanne are well-rested (assholes), this is the year that Turco FINALLY steps up and forces them to retire. Again. Stars in 7.

For those who care (and there aren't many) I will also be simulating the playoffs using NHL 2002 on the PC with the current rosters (as close as I can get them, anyway). Enjoy the hockey related songs I put on the Playlist as well. Okay, that's all I've got. Let's drop the puck!


(Interestingly, VERSUS has only chosen to show 2 games each from the Sidsburgh/Bruins and Devs/Rangers series, yet the combined forces of NBC/VS are showing every single Detroit/Nashville and Philthy/Kaps game. Where's the Sid and Marty love?)

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