The Stanley Cup Playoffs are here! I used to post a big ridiculous preview extravaganza, but that grew tiresome. Instead, let's take a look at the local matchups, and make a few quick picks.
Devils (3) vs. Hurricanes (6). What a strange season it was for the Devils. It was supposed to be a year-long Marty Party, as the team celebrated his setting career records for wins and shutouts and cemented his legacy as one of the best goalie ever. Instead, he got injured early on and merely bookended the season in goal, looking vulnerable for the first time in his career. The team was deep enough to rally with Clemmensen replacing him, but seemed to relax too much on defense once he returned. I have no doubt this team can focus for the playoffs, play tight D and score goals with their Zach-aided Attack, but how deep can they go? As always, it's on Brodeur. Regardless, I like their chances in this series. Devils in 6.
Rangers (7) vs. Capitals (2). If you thought the Devs had a weird season, the Rangers' season may have been weirder. The Blueshirts blasted out of the box, winning their first 10 of 13 games. Then, just as suddenly the goals dried up, the defense looked like a sieve, and the team played dull, unmotivated hockey games that mostly ended in shootouts, and before long Renney the Robot was shown the door. John "Asshat" Tortorella semi-righted the ship, and while Drury and Gomez thrive in this scenario, and Gavery's douchebaggishness can't be counted out, Lundqvist will have to play perfect between the pipes for them to win. The scary thing is, he can. I have to be honest: besides the irrepressible OVIE! and Mike Green, I don't particularly like this Caps team very much, and I certainly don't see them being carried by Theodore. Rangers in 7.
My Blognostications. From the beginning of the season, I got 6/8 of the playoff teams correct in each of the two conferences (my incorrect picks being Buffalo, Ottawa, Minnesota and Edmonton). I deserve some sort of medal for that, right? Okay, I blew it by not picking Boston, but getting St. Louis has to count for something. Oh, and thanks again, Sabres, for letting me down once again.
Battle of the Keystone State. I have to say that although it's not the fashionable thing to do, I'm rooting hard for Sid and the Pens, who got hot at just the right time (and MAF picked up his game as soon as I dropped him from my fantasy team--no, it had nothing to do with the coaching change). I want them to crush the phucking Philthy Lyers.
Teams That Piss Me Off And I Just Wish Would Go Away. Along with Philthy Lyers, the Ducks and the Predators just annoy me.
Welcome To The Big Ice Dance. Columbus, glad you could make it. Congratulations on your first playoff berth. Your reward? The Detroit Fucking Red Wings. Ugh, this will be ugly. Whichever Mason they have is going to have to stand on his head to get out of the 1st round.
The Team Least Built For The Playoffs. Normally, this is where I shit in the Sharks' tank, but I think they will fare much better this season. Meanwhile, the Bruins cruised through the regular season with a surprise goalie tandem, finesse scorers, and very little toughness or defensive defensemen (except for Chara)--all things that just don't add up to postseason success. I think this is where the road ends. But hey, Beantown will always have BU's NCAA championship to hang their helmets on.
Canadian Team Most Likely To Succeed. Much to Gary "Fucking" Bettman's dismay, 50% of the teams from the Great White North are in the second season. Out of the 3, I have to say Calgary will go the furthest, as I'm just not impressed with Montreal (mainly due to Jesus Price's shoddy tending), or Vancouver (and their lack of scoring).
Surprise Team That Could Make The West Finals. The Blackhawks. I just like their young talent, and their young talented female ice girls.
Congratulations to the Islanders, for getting the #1 pick in the NHL Draft. All of that intense sucking finally paid off!
In closing . . .
OHBFHL CHAMPS! I don't mean to toot my own horn, but then what the hell is the point of a blog if I can't do that? Let's just say that my KISS OF DEATH team won the 1st Annual Open Hockey Blog Fantasy Hockey League (OHBFHL) after a tense CHAMPIONSHIP FORTNIGHT battle with Kris' NO HOMERS squadron. It reminded me why I simultaneously love and hate fantasy leagues, and how they can be equal parts fun and frustrating: getting the other managers to give a shit, picking up players who suffer season-crippling injuries (which was my forte), choosing to go with a goalie right as he's about to shit the crease -- it's all part of the game. All I know is that I earned that bottle of single malt I'm going to receive soon.