Wednesday, April 15, 2009

2009 Playoff Journal Part 2

Western Conference Preview
1. San Jose Sharks vs. 8. Anaheim Ducks
Ah, the battle of California. Very fitting for an ice hockey playoff series. Unfortunately for the Ducks, it is going to be a short series. Sure the Sharks are the number one result when you google "lots of skill + choke + playoffs". But they won't have much to worry about in this one. First of all Anaheim has slowly been crumbling since their Cup win as they keep having to trade players in cap related moves. And the man who delivers the playoff magic for them (i.e. Giguere) has seen his play tail off and has been replaced by the more effective Jonas Hillier. The Sharks are superior in every single category. They won't choke this year because they are anchored by stud vetern defensemen who have won it all in the form of Rob Blake and Dan Boyle.
Prediction:Sharks in five

2. Detroit Red Wings vs. 7. Columbus Blue Jackets
The Blue Jackets are one of the feel good stories of this season, finally reaching the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. Steve Mason has stolen the show there, and will have the chance to strut his stuff against the defending champs. At the other end, the Red Wings goaltending can be downright scary at times, yet this team has been dominant all season once again. It helps when you have guys name Nick Lidstrom and Brian Rafalski anchoring your defense. And who wouldn't want Zetterberg, Datsyuk, Hossa, and Franzen filling nets? Columbus will put up a fight, and Mason may even steal a game or two. But the defending champs will simply be too much to handle.
Prediction: Red Wings in six

3. Vancouver Canucks vs. 6. St. Louis Blues
St. Louis? Really? And in sixth place? This team has risen out of the ashes of the leagues basement all the way into the 6th slot in the west. They have an exciting young team featuring the likes of Oshie, Berglund, Backes, and Boyes. Vetern Chris Mason has been playing the best of his career as well. *Ding* That was the sound of the clock striking midnight a.ka. the puck hitting Roberto Luongo. They are being picked by many as a darkhorse team, but they are no match for the Canucks nasty style anchored around the league's best goaltender in Luongo. The Nucks are built for the playoffs with character guys like Burrows and Mitchell who make life a nightmare for the opposition.
Prediction: Vancouver in six

4. Chicago Blackhawks vs. 5. Calgary Flames
Alright, so far I've picked the favourites in every matchup. Going out on a limb here eh? Well sorry to dissapoint, but I'm picking the Hawks in this one as well. Although it seems like nobody is even giving these guys a chance, saying they're too young and inexperienced. I beg to differ. First of all they have a goalie between the pipes who has absolutely owned the Flames in his career, including a Stanley Cup victory over them. The Hawks have a young exciting team, and I believe that they learned alot through there run towards the playoffs last season where they almost slipped in. Kanes and Toews know what it is like to win in high pressure situations (Kane with the Knights, Toews on team Canada in the World Juniors). The Flames meanwhile are wildly inconsistent all the way from Kiprusoff to their defense (Phaneuf having a down year) to their forwards (What have you done lately Mr. Jokinen?).
Prediction: Chicago in six

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