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Monday, April 29, 2013

An Ice Life: Eastern Conference Playoff Preview

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An Ice Life: Eastern Conference Playoff Preview
By Wild on Sports NHL Analyst Brian Peirce

Eastern Conference and way too early finals predictions:

The east is going to be wild in that the powerhouses are always playing well, but the first round might not be as much contended as in the west.

1 Pittsburgh v 8 Islanders
This is going to be a bloodbath. The Islanders are a team that has come a long way, but no one can consider them even close to the team in the hills. Even if Crosby and Malkin didn’t play a game in this series Pittsburgh would still have the edge at every position except for top center as Tavares is the third best player in the series. I just cannot see a way for them to win besides the biggest meltdown ever. I am not going to say it will be a sweep for sure, but this has the mark of sweep on it.

I don’t want to watch a single minute of this series, but since it seems like NBC has a strict policy of only playing the Penguins on TV I have a feeling I will be searching on the internet for other games to watch. As Pierre loves to do, we will end up hearing all about that team in every single game they cover anyways. Wake me up when it is over.

2 Montreal v Ottawa
This really upset me when it finally was set in stone to see these two teams meet in the first round. Do not get me wrong, this will be a grand series. My issue is that the Penguins have had the road cleared for them through this as both of these teams would have been extremely hard outs for them. I initially had Montreal as my Eastern Conference champion and now I have to worry about them making it out of the first round.

Ottawa proved they are a tough team after Cooke assassinated Karlsson about 10 weeks ago. Losing the best defenseman in the league on a young team built around low scoring strategies should have doomed them, even more so when losing the hottest goaltender in the league. My fantasy team was destroyed by these losses, but Ottawa was not. They got better and then they got both of these pillars back just in time for the playoffs.

Ottawa has the better goaltending and the better defense while Montreal has the better offense and the better team overall. It just is going to be a fun set of games that could go either way. I really think that there was a way that these two could have been fighting for the Stanley Cup finals down the road, but now one will have to go home early. I am going to for love of one of my favourite teams and because no one else will make this call, say the Senators are going to win in 7 games. Grab some Molson and enjoy.

3 Washington v 6 New York
These are two teams that feel like should have been lower seeds. Washington got hot as anyone in the league but still feels weak, even though they have gotten great goaltending and a bunch of goal support. The Rangers feel even weaker than the Capitals, and their big name goaltender has not looked elite for some time now. I get the feeling that the Caps will have their way here because, even as the Rangers are the better team, the best players for the Caps have been playing the best for them. I don’t see that in New York, and while it could change, I think Washington will advance because of it. I think they will win in six games.

4 Boston v 5 Toronto
This is just like the Montreal series in that the tough outs will have to play each other too early for me to be happy about it. Toronto is not a terrible team, as shocking as that statement can be it is true. They could win this series against a team in Boston that is considered a powerhouse of recent years. Boston seems to be lacking drive, and it might have to do with there being so much talent without enough room for it all to develop properly. That being said, they have the best goaltender in the East for my money and a solid group that I just cannot see the Leafs taking out. I am going to say Boston in 6.

I also think that the Boston bombings will get a city ready to jump at something good happening. I think the Bruins will be that catalyst and they are going to be my pick out of the East. I thought that there would be a scenario where Boston played the Canadians in the East, but now I have to think it will be Boston and Pittsburgh and the Pens winning that match up. I just really hope that isn’t the case. I will go instead with Boston beating the Senators with my heart over my brains.



I would be happy with an LA and Boston final, so that will be my pick, though it is far from a sure thing. I would assume a 7 game series if that happens, it would end in Beantown which would mean hockey would get 15 minutes of fame while the news channels all talk about bombings and a city healing and all that heartstring reporting. I do think that this is the closest I have ever seen teams in parity so I am not going to rule anything out. Both Detroit and Ottawa are huge dark horse candidates. Boston and LA are true powerhouses that didn’t win a division title. Penguins and Blackhawks are juggernauts, plus the Habs and Ducks are beasts that should not be discounted. This is why I just do not think there are many safe bets this season. I just won’t be like everyone else and crown the Penguins right off the bat. They might be the best team, but I have seen teams like this fail before.

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