At last, the proper post, complete with all the carnage from round one. The Rangers and Devils really saved our bacon there last night, didn’t they?
A historic note I neglected to make last post was that not only did St. Louis and Phoenix win their first playoff series in over a decade (in Phoenix’s case, 25 years), but so, too, did the LA Kings: their last playoff series win was a 2001 upset of the Detroit Red Wings. In fact, this was just their second playoff series win since their 1993 run to the Stanley Cup Finals. So hooray for a bunch of history being made this year. Too bad that campaign was cancelled in favour of “Because It’s The Cup.”
[Ed: No, Matt still hasn't posted his picks yet. Hurry up, jackass. UPDATE: And he finally did, the day after.]
Clarence Campbell Conference Semifinals
(2) St. Louis vs. (8) Los Angeles
Playoff History: Fun fact: the St. Louis Blues have never lost a playoff game to the Los Angeles Kings. Sure, it’s spread across two eras with no players in common, either with each other or now, but hey, isn’t that neat?
|1969 SF||1998 CQF|
Season Series: 3-1 LA. They blitzed the Davis Payne Blues in the first meeting, while the games involving the Ken Hitchcock Blues were tight affairs: two were one-goal regulation wins, and one was a 1-0 SO loss.
Doogie Says: I could write up a bunch of boring reasons why one team or the other will win, but after joking about it on Twitter, I decided that literally flipping a coin would be more fun, anyway, because that’s probably the best model for how this series between two dominant puck possession teams with outstanding goaltending is going to go anyway.
Flip 1: Heads
Flip 2: Heads
Flip 3: Tails
Flip 4: Heads
Flip 5: Tails
Flip 6: Tails
Flip 7: Tails
Kings in seven. Because apparently, tails is fuckin’ clutch.
Hoop Says: Prediction #1: every game will be a 2-1 game. These teams are really clones of one another. I just smell some magic in Los Angeles, and I’ll take Jonathan Quick over either St. Louis goaltender. It’ll be a war, but I’m taking the Kings in seven.
Matt Says: Kings in six. I really have no good reason (do I ever?), but when the playoffs started, I thought Kings/Flyers for the Cup.
Gerard Says: Kings in six. Why? Because fuck Vancouver, that’s why. (No, that’s not a mistake. I know they’re playing St. Louis. That’s still my reason.)
(3) Phoenix vs. (4) Nashville
Playoff History: Unsurprisingly, these two teams have never met in the postseason.
Season Series: Tied at two, with one of Nashville’s wins coming in the coin-flip.
Doogie Says: Two teams that got blitzed in the first round and survived thanks to ungodly goaltending, Phoenix slightly more so. The simple question is, which one is more likely to sustain? The quick, only-kinda-supported answer: Rinne has a longer and more consistent track record of success (remember, Mike Smith wasn’t good enough some uninspiring Tampa Bay Lightning teams), and Nashville’s deadline pickups seem more likely to solve Phoenix’s keeper than vice versa. Either way, congrats to fans in the desert, who will finally learn what it’s like to watch a hockey game you care about in May, and congrats to fans of whichever team ultimately advances for making their deepest-ever playoff run, because that’s as far as they’re getting: the winner of this series is going to get slobberknockered by whomever comes out of St. Louis-LA. Book it. Predators in six.
Hoop Says: Good seats are still available for Game 1 in Phoenix! (No, I’m not kidding.) This has to be a nightmare for the NHL in regards to TV ratings. Mike Smith is on one of those scary goalie runs that you see from time to time, however Nashville is a complete team. I’ll go with Rinne, Suter, and Weber: Predators in four. After that, pack the Mayflower trucks and see you in Quebec City next year!
Matt Says: Predators in five. I’m pretty sure the Coyotes can pull off at least one win…
Gerard Says: Predators in seven. You have a team that has great goaltending but no offense. No, wait, two teams. Fuck it. Coinflip.
Prince of Wales Conference Semifinals
(1) NY Rangers vs. (7) Washington
Playoff History: My, this matchup looks familiar.
|1986 DF||1990 DF||1991 DSF||1994 CSF||2009 CQF||2011 CQF|
The Caps have won both recent matchups, and four of the six all-time.
Season Series: Tied at two. Fun fact: only one game (3-2 NYR, 2/12/12) was decided by fewer than three goals.
Doogie Says: Not unlike my pick in the Phoenix-Nashville series, I think in a battle between a hot goalie and a good goalie, I’ll pick the good goalie every time. Braden Holtby is a great story, and it’d be fun to see him pull at least a Halak or a Penney, if not a Roy or a Dryden. I know I tend to be focusing on goaltending in this round to the exclusion of much else, but it was a definite theme of the first round (along with gratuitous violence) that the team with the hot goalie, moreso than usual, carried the day: of the eight survivors, only St. Louis and New Jersey had the majority of even-strength, score-tied shot attempts in their series, so this is kind of what I have to work with. Besides, with Dale Hunter benching Alex Ovechkin with regularity these days, and Semin apparently being Semin in the playoffs, it doesn’t seem like the Caps’ scorers are going to have as much to say about things as I’d really like them to. But hey, that makes my job easier, in terms of bullshitting reasons to make mostly arbitrary decisions: it took noted goal machine Joel Ward to get the Caps to this point in the first place. Holtby will hold the Caps in longer than they have any right to, but I think we can count on the perennial Vezina candidate to make a save when he has to; he usually does. Rangers in seven.
Hoop Says: Holtby outduelling King Henrik? Ummm…no. This is a good matchup for the Rangers, but it won’t be too easy. Let’s go with the Rangers in six.
Matt Says: Rangers in seven. I didn’t expect Washington to get past the first round, so I still don’t expect them to get past the second.
Gerard Says: Capitals in five. Apparently they have a goaltender now.
(5) Philadelphia vs. (6) New Jersey
Playoff History: The two teams met as recently as a couple of years ago, with the Flyers carrying the day en route to a Stanley Cup Finals appearance. Historically, the Flyers were also the first-ever post-season opponent of the then-Colorado Rockies. Unsurprisingly, the Rockies got stomped.
|1978 PRE||1995 CF||2000 CF||2004 CQF||2010 CQF|
Season Series: Tied at three, with one of Jersey’s wins coming in the shootout.
Doogie Says: Ah, finally a break from hot goalies in favour of two goalies who actually kind of sucked in the first round. Okay, at least Brodeur had that double OT and shutout to hang his hat on, while Bryzgalov played like the reincarnation of Andre Racicot for most of his series, but bear in mind, Florida is fucking terrible; that they had half a chance in that series despite getting blown out on the shot clock says as many bad things about Marty (especially with some of the goals he gave up) as it does good things about Theo/Clemmensen. Philly has the guns to overcome bad goaltending in a long series, whereas New Jersey feels decidedly less strong beyond that Zajac-Parise-Kovalchuk top grouping. (Though hey, how about that Adam Henrique kid?) I don’t think it’s going to be the blowout some of my colleagues are picking, simply because I expect Bryzgalov to turn on the Racicot in at least a couple of games, but give it to the Flyers in six despite that.
Hoop Says: New Jersey goes to OT in Game 7 to beat Florida. Philly takes out Pittsburgh in five [Ed: Six.] despite Bryzgalov not being able to stop a beach ball. Normally, I like to pick the goaltender I trust more, but Jersey and Florida are both bad teams. Philly and Pittsburgh are good teams. Easy pick for me: Flyers in five.
Matt Says: Flyers in five. Like Gerard is about to say, this one doesn’t really need any discussion; also, see pick one.
Gerard Says: Flyers in four. Seriously, are we discussing this one?