It’s that time folks! We still haven’t learned our lesson (or really recovered from the beating we took picking last year), but we’re back for a third crack at playoff picks! Why do we do it? Well, it’s just that time of year, where things just seem right in the world. Chips taste better, beer is colder and more tasty and the couch is just so comfy. NHL Playoff time!! This year, Beer and The King have decided to do something a little different. We’ve decided to put our picks up against others. We’ve challenged a reader and one of our favorite other bloggers to make their picks each round. Our buddy Tom over at Tom Tantrums has his picks up, and our good friend and regular reader PB is joining us here on the Beerbarrel to give his picks as well. When it’s all said and done, we’ll tally up who was right and who was wrong. (Or as the case usually goes, who was the most wrong…)
As the famous Ray Lane use to say. “Let’s get it up!”
(Beer: For those of you who don’t know… Ray Lane was a Detroit TV sportscaster. And no, I don’t remember him saying that either)
New York (1) vs Ottawa (8)
Kingkielbasa53 – I think this is one of the more boring matchups. The Rangers do look like a good team, even though Ottawa has gone 3-1 against the Rangers this year. Plus anyone that has the guts to call out the Pittsburgh team gets my vote. New York in 6
PB – I have one word to say about this matchup “Lundqvist”. How far the Rangers will go this year is strictly on the back of their goaltender. The Sens have had success this year against the Rangers but the tight checking style that Tortorella has instilled is perfect for the playoffs. New York in 6.
Beer – I could get into a long, involved post about the matchup here, but it really comes down one simple question. Is Bryan Murray still running the Senators? Yes? Okay, New York in 5 then.
Boston (2) vs Washington (7)
Kingkielbasa53 – Wait, is my mancrush still playing? Man, what a bad year for him. I don’t see Washington doing anything in this round or any future rounds in the 2012 playoffs. Boston in 5
PB – Let’s see if the whirling dervish silver tongue devil Tim Thomas has the magic again. Caps have this guy that I think you may have heard of that can score nicknamed Ovie. Even he can’t play and score on every shift to keep them in this series. Chara (Boston) in 5
Beer – Nice to see the King work in his annual Cam Neely reference. I’m not going to waste time mincing words here though. The Caps, while they have the potential to be very good, have been miserable this season. I see no reason for that to change now. Boston in 6
Florida (3) vs New Jersey (6)
Kingkielbasa53 – Wait, Florida is still in the league? Aren’t they moving to Hamilton or something…Just Kidding. I heard someone referred to them as the worst team to make the playoffs. I don’t agree with that, but I don’t see them winning. New Jersey in 6.
PB – Florida in the playoffs? This one should be interesting that’s for sure. Florida is a good team but they are definitely a little over their heads in this matchup. I could see a sweep but I don’t think that will happen. Broduer/Parise/Elias (That would be New Jersey) in 5.
Beer – Ah, Commissioner Bettman’s quirky seeding. Thanks to conference seeding across three divisions, you have a team that by point total (92) winning its division and hosting a series against a team that got seeded 6th and racked up 10 more points (102). Still, you want to host a series? You win your division. And Florida did. Given the home ice advantage for Florida, and Marty Brodeur reaching the late stages of a brilliant career for the Devils – I actually see this one as a close one. New Jersey in 7
Pittsburgh (4) vs Philadelphia (5)
Kingkielbasa53 – Ahhh, this is the series to watch. This is what playoff hockey is all about. Two teams, two coaches, two fanbases that HATE each other. I’m grabbing some drinks and chips and I’m sitting down to watch this series. Oh, I guess I better make my pick. Philadelphia in 7!
PB – This will be like old time hockey for sure. Hard hitting, awesome displays of skill, and maybe a fight between the athletic trainers for good measure. This may get so heated that Mario and Bobby Clarke will strap on the skates and take a whirl around the ice. Just hope that certain players melons will hold up through the entire series. Coin toss says Pittsburgh in 7.
Beer – The battle of the Keystone State! Sure, It’s no Steelers/Eagles, but then again the Flyers would probably have a better shot at beating the Steelers than the Eagles do right now. So who’s it gonna be? How healthy are the Pens, really? How rough and tumble will this series actually be? Pittsburgh seems healthy, they can score, and play good “D”. Pittsburgh in 5.
Vancouver (1) vs Los Angeles (8)
Kingkielbasa53 – As much as I’d like to see Vancouver lose and start the rioting now, I don’t see that happening. LA has Quick and we know that a hot goalie can win games in the playoffs, but I don’t see that happening here. Vancouver in 5
PB – Read this week how great an accomplishment for the Canucks to win back to back presidents trophies. Woopty Doo! How many cups does that bring? This boils down to the Kings play really well against the Canucks. After a long playoff run last year and a much hungrier Kings I could see upset but not this time. Vancouver in 6
Beer – If the Canucks lose in the 1st round, would there be riots? I don’t know. I do know the Canucks have won the President’s Trophy again. And I also know that in the past decade, only one team has won the Stanley Cup after winning the President’s Trophy. Vancouver in 7, but I think it’ll take a lot of the steam out of them to do it.
St. Louis (2) vs San Jose (7)
Kingkielbasa53 – This is one of my favorite match ups this year. I think that Hitchcock has had his team playing playoff style of hockey all year so far. The question will be if they can play playoff hockey against another team playing playoff hockey. I think so. St. Louis in 7. Bonus prediction: Roenick will call out Marleau in 4.
PB – “I don’t know what you’re talking about. I didn’t touch the puck in play from the bench” – Ryan Clowe. Like Kelly Hrudey said this week on Hockey Night in Canada radio classless moves usually end in a bad way. The Blues are a solid team and will rely on Hitchcock to show them how to win in the playoffs. San Jose’ is more soft than ever and they are playing that way. No Jamie Baker to rescue you this time. St. Louis in 5.
Beer – Wow, PB is still hauling around a little mid nineties Red Wing grief there. You’d have thought a few Stanley Cup Wins would have soothed that over by now. And we’ve got the King giving out bonus predictions! (For the record, I don’t think anyone can predict Jeremy Roenick comments) Now, for the pick… I lived in Dallas while coach Hitchcock was behind the bench for the Stars and I’ll say this – his teams can play playoff hockey. The question that always comes up, does he have the horses to go all the way, or will they burn out before the race is over as they’ve also done in the past? St. Louis in 7
Phoenix (3) vs Chicago (6)
Kingkielbasa53 – Hmmmm, I’m thinking outside the box on this one. I see Mike Smith stealing the show here and Phoenix beating the favorite pick of sportswriters. Phoenix in 7
PB – Crazy thing this NHL of ours. Teams like Chicago confound us as one week they look like no one can beat them and the next the Plymouth Whalers of the OHL could spank them. Phoenix is a solid team and Smith is the x-factor (not stealing a show idea or anything). Land of the rising sun in 6. (Beer – I’m pretty sure he meant “Valley of the sun”. Everyone knows that Phoenix will be moving eventually, but I’ve never heard of anywhere in Japan mentioned as a destination. Although I wouldn’t put it past Mr. Bettman)
PB – Yes Beer the way Bettman works he may think that Japan would be a good TV market for the NHL. Phoenix in 6
Beer – Another case of a road team with a better record. Chicago would have won the Pacific if they played there, but they don’t so they open on the road. And sad to say, I think I’ve read more reports on the state of the Coyotes franchise this year than I have game recaps. And the Hawks? Well, they sold their souls to the salary cap devil and are now starting to feel the pinch, but they’re still the better team. Hawks in 4. (Somebody queue up Chelsea Dagger by the Fratellis for the King if this happens)
Nashville (4) vs Detroit (5)
Kingkielbas53 – Okay, this is the series I didn’t want to write about. I’m not going to be very popular with my fellow Wing fans, but I’m a little worried about this series. The Wings always have slumps during the season, the problem is that it usually is in February. They have only scored 3 goals in the last 3 games. Nashville really looks like it’s going to make the push this year. Ugh..so sorry, but Nashville in 6.
PB – I read something this week that said the Red Wings are old and finished. Well I guess that would be true if they had not made the playoffs for 21 seasons in a row! However they do not have the same look of years past and injuries are a problem. Nashville is a solid team and are built eerily similar to the Wings. The Wings are a proud bunch and will fight to the end. I just don’t think this matchup is good for the Wings and it will be a hard one to swallow. Nashville in 7.
Beer – Ah, the Detroit pick. Every year it’s usually a good bet I’ll pick against them in the early rounds, citing some overthought / under reasoned concern I’d come up with. In the meantime, everyone else usually homers up and picks them on faith. Not this year though! There is genuine concern. And let me say this – I am no fan of the move Nashville made to get Radulov in their lineup. I don’t blame Nashville, the rules are what they are – but adding him after the deadline like that (without having to put him through waivers or anything) is crap. That’s a loophole that should get closed. Still, Nashville was a mover at the trade deadline. They loaded up on some good players, mortgaged a bit of the future to win now. Gotta respect that. And they’re a well coached, hard playing team. I like them, but I like the now “as close to healthy as they’re gonna get” Red Wings to steal a barnburner. Detroit in 7.
And there you have it folks. Our picks for the first round. Remember to check out Tom’s picks over on his blog to see how he did, too. If he wins, maybe will buy him a cheeseburger or something. See you on the other side!