Who remembers who won a division or conference a few years later. People remember when you win the cup. People tell stories generations later when players rise to the top and heroically put it on the line and get to sip the bubbly.
And that’s what Hockey’s second season is all about and here are my fearless predictions for round one of what’s been a surprising lock out shortened 2012/13 season. Four Canadian teams made the cut this second season which is always good news!
Minnesota & Chicago
The Wild have had a wild season. Big expectations were not fully made the team struggled to win the 8th seed. Chicago has been a monster this year leading the NHL in points and fewest goals given up. No contest really and it’d be surprising if the Wild win more than one game if even that.
LA & STL
Should be a highly entertaining series. St. Louis has speed, youth, and have to be hungry. The late season addition of Jay Bouwmeester has not hurt. Groin injuries to Jaroslav Halak are what really holding back the Blues as he’s one of the few NHL goalies who have better numbers in the Play Offs than the regular season. While St. Louis has home ice advantage never underestimate a team that has won the cup the season before and LA has a lot of horsepower ready to roll if Halak isn’t the guy in net.
Who moves forward? Los Angeles.
Detroit & Anaheim
Anaheim has had an amazing season that has only been marred by Teamu Selanne showing signs of finally slowing down. This could be the end of a future Hall of Fame career. Whatever he has in the tank will be used up in this series. Lack of offense from the D and overall depth could hurt the Ducks.
Detroit is Detroit and always capable of putting it together. While certainly missing Nick Lidstrom after his retirement the Wings picked up as the season came to a finish.
If Todd Bertuzzi has an impact and can play it’ll be close.
Who moves forward? Anaheim
Toronto & Boston
Boston and Montreal seemed to be competed for the team that nose dives the fastest as the season ended. Now the question is whether they both can pull it together for the play offs. Boston played spoiler blocking a Leafs Habs first round match up and for no other reason they deserve an early visit to the golf links.
Boston should wipe the Leafs who are making their first appearance in the Play offs in years. Boston has depth, goal tending, scoring, defense. Yet they have not been winning.
Toronto is an interesting selection. Their big boys will be tangling with Boston’s and this should be an ugly fight strewn series. It comes down to whether Boston can shake their malaise and play up to their talent. If they do that they should win.
Who moves forward? Toronto in seven.
NY Islanders & Pittsburgh
NY has had a great year and who thought they’d even make the play offs? Pittsburgh, in spite of injuries has rocked with Primadona Sidney Crosby nearly winning the NHL scoring title even though out with injuries after taking a puck to the face. Most importantly though is one Jarome Inginla who wants to win his cup and with this team he should have a very good chance.
This should be a sweep with the Penguins not working up much of a sweat.
San Jose & Vancouver
This should be the year San Jose breaks through. Even though they jettisoned three of the veterans the team has actually played faster and better. Joe Thornton and some of the other vets have something to prove and this is the time to shine.
Vancouver has had a good season and has home ice advantage. It has the Sedin twins and very deep defense, but something is missing and Mr. Roy is probably not the solution to whatever that “something” is. The Canucks may have enough to fight through this series, but I’m not so sure they have much more.
Intellectually my brain says Vancouver moves forward; but my gut is telling me San Jose is going to surprise and that Scott Gomez is going to be a series hero.
San Jose moves forward.
New York Rangers & Washington
Someone in Washington finally figured out that the team pays Alex Ovechkin to be Alex Ovechkin and not to try and change who he is and that it’s up to the rest of the team to keep up. While that isn’t a recipe for a Stanley Cup win it sure has led to a MVP type season for the Ruskie and should be enough for the Caps to get by the Rangers who have underperformed while trading again with Columbus which begs the question of if those players were so good why didn’t Columbus ever win?
For New York to win this series Rick Nash will have to shine brighter than Ovie.
Odds of that happening?
Washington moves forward.
Montreal & Ottawa
Such a shame that two of my fave teams this year have to play each other. The big question is will Habs goalie Carey Price man up? If Peter Budaj plays in this series the Habs can play golf early which is what they were expected to do this year, but after a really strong start they rode into the play offs.
Ottawa didn’t have high expectations and then were decimated by injuries across the board. Their bionic players who are back show a grit and tenacity that can burn Montreal big time.
Montreal has an edge talent wise on paper, but paper never wins a game. Talent and desire do. This is a huge acid test for Michel Therrien as coach and for GM Marc Bergevin to see which of his players are keepers and how to build the team into the future.
For Ottawa if they were going to beat any team in the first round Montreal was the one they wanted to play against.
My fave Chris Neil fighting way out of his class and getting the best of Milan Lucic .
The series all comes down to goalie Carey Price. If he shows up Montreal should have enough in the tank to get by Ottawa in six or seven games. Anything less than his “A” game and the Cinderella Sens get to the second round of Lord Stanley’s Cup.
Who moves forward? Montreal
What do you think Hockey Fans? You can post your comments below and post in our poll!