Wow. Dig the carnage there. Did anyone other than Travis Hair at Five For Howling have Phoenix in five? Holy shit.
Also, with Washington’s loss last night, I think Gerard has all but mathematically been eliminated from contention: the best he can finish is 8-7 now, whereas the worst Matt and I can finish is 8-7. So basically, unless he nails all three remaining series and we biff all three remaining series, he’s done. So now it’s down to the two of us and the returning champion, who needs to get us his picks, incidentally.
Okay, that’s a lie, he’s toast. I just didn’t want to spoil the picks before the cut. Everyone picked the same again; he’s fucked.
Clarence Campbell Conference Finals
(3) Phoenix vs. (8) Los Angeles
Playoff History: Back in the ’80s, the Kings and Jets never met in the divisional playoffs. Since the divisional format ended in 1993, the Kings had advanced past the first round just once, and the Jets/Coyotes never did, prior to this year. Not many opportunities to meet in the playoffs.
Season Series: Tied at three. LA and Phoenix each won one in extra time, and Phoenix added another in the shootout.
Doogie Says: After basing all my picks on goaltending last round, a stat I saw in Twitter today indicated that the best and worst goalies in this round are separated by 0.003 EVSV%, which means I’m actually going to have to put some effort in this time and talk about team strengths. To that end, LA kind of ran St. Loo’s show last round, finally getting the offensive contributions expected from guys like Dustin Penner at last while maintaining the defensive style that got them this far. Jeff Carter, though, has barely been able to buy a goal, and I think he’s due for a breakout at some point. Phoenix hasn’t gotten much scoring, but what they have gotten is a bit more balanced, including eleven points combined from Ray Whitney and Daymond Langkow, but regular-season scoring leader Radim Vrbata is also struggling to get it done, with just two goals and four points in eleven games. I didn’t get a chance to see much of the second round – it didn’t really last long enough – but it certainly looks like Phoenix’s series was much closer than the first, though Nashville is a team that plays a similar style, so maybe it’s not a huge surprise. Anything is possible at this point, but I just feel like LA should have the balance of power in this series, based on who they beat and how, compared to Phoenix. Let’s go with Kings in six.
Hoop Says: Clearly I know nothing and my blind hatred of the Coyotes franchise has clouded my judgement. So I’ll take the Kings in four. Why? Because Fuck Phoenix, that’s why. It’s not like Quick will give up goals from center will he? [Ed: LOL.]
Matt Says: Kings in five. See earlier statement about who I thought would be playing for the Cup.
Gerard Says: Kings in six. Why? Because Fuck Vancouver. That’s why. [Ed: I like that "Fuck Vancouver" is now a proper noun.]
Prince of Wales Conference Finals
(1) NY Rangers vs. (6) New Jersey
Playoff History: Another familiar matchup, their most famous meeting coming in 1994, and their most recent featuring the (thoroughly unnecessary) birth of the Sean Avery Rule.
|1992 DSF||1994 CF||1997 CSF||2006 CQF||2008 CQF|
Season Series: Tied at three, with one of the Devils’ wins coming in the coin-flip.
Doogie Says: To me, this series comes down to two questions.
1) Which Devils team are we getting? The one that required a rookie mistake in double overtime of Game 7 to dispose of the postseason’s worst team? Or the one that shut down the high-flying Flyers and made Ilya Bryzgalov look silly (sillier)? Ilya Kovalchuk has played like a man possessed, and with all due respect to Alex Ovechkin, looks like the guy most likely to make the Rangers’ six-goalie system look bad. On the other hand, Marty Brodeur has been consistently inconsistent this playoff, looking more like Fatso against Florida, and more like vintage Marty against Philly.
2) How tired is New York going to be? They’ve played two stifling seven-gamers without a break, including the longest game in a couple of years, and blocked a ton of shots. At some point, that style of play could catch up to them, either now or in the Cup finals. My sense is that, given the goaltending advantage, shot-blocking prowess, and the superior record against playoff teams, the Rangers will probably get through, but the Devils will give them everything they can handle, probably enough to screw their cross-Hudson rivals out of a Stanley Cup. Rangers in seven.
Hoop Says: I really want to pick New Jersey and see Martin Brodeur go out on top, but I am going to follow my brain (which has really paid off so far). The Rangers are just better at almost every facet of the game. Rangers in six.
Matt Says: I honestly haven’t followed much of the second round to see how they’ve been playing, so using Doogie’s coin-flip method, I get HHTHTTH, and that obviously means Rangers in seven…oh, I was supposed to assign a team first? [Ed: I treat heads as the higher seed, so this is consistent with my own use last round.]
Gerard Says: Rangers in seven. It should be a good, local series, and that’s always fun. But the Devils took out Breezy while the Rangers got stuck against the biggest goalie surprise of the playoffs. Fatigue could be an issue, and I can’t imagine either of these teams winning the Cup, but I have to go with Lundqvist over Brodeur.