2011 NHL playoff predictions: 2nd Round

NHL Playoffs 2011The first round of the NHL Playoffs are officially over, and what a first round it was! I have to say it was the most exciting round of playoffs in any sport that I’ve watched in recent memory. When it came to my predictions, I did pretty well, getting 6 out of 8 series correctly; I even got a few series down to the number of games played. Let’s hope I can continue the trend. Here is my 1st round winners and losers, and below that, my 2nd round picks:

Called it: Vancouver (in 7), San Jose (in 6), Detroit, Nashville (in 6), Washington, Tampa Bay

Missed it: Philadelphia, Boston

Western Conference

After the grueling first round series against the Chicago Blackhawks, the Vancouver have to regroup quickly as they go head-to-head against the Nashville Predators. The Preds dangerous team who have just come off their first ever franchise playoff series win, are well rested and itching to get another series win under their belt. That being said, the Canucks are too strong of a team and are riding on their high from the game seven victory. It will be a tough one but I predict Canucks in 6.

I’m hesitant to pick the Sharks, who are going up against the perennial playoff powerhouse Detroit Red Wings, but I’m going to go with my heart and say the Sharks can pull out this victory. The team will have to dominate the series early and get Detroit on their heels, which is a tough task. If all goes well I say San Jose in 6.

Eastern Conference

The most exciting series in the Eastern Conference for me is the Washington Capitals vs. Tampa Bay Lightning. On the offensive side, it’ll be great to see Ovechkin/Semin go up against Lecavalier/Stamkos/St. Louis, so hopefully there will be no shortage of goals. I’d like to see the Caps take the next step and I think against the aging Roloson they can make him work for his wins. I say the Capitals in 7.

I spent the last seven games cheering against these Boston Bruins, but as with my Habs rooting, I’ll go for the team I hate less, yet again. Facing the not-so-impressive Philadelphia Flyers, the Bruins should take the experience they gained from the first round series and carry it onward to a victory over Philly and its revolving door of goalies. Bruins in 6.

NHL playoff predictions: 2011 edition

NHL Playoffs 2011It’s that time of year again. The NHL playoffs are about to begin and I must give you my predictions. Hopefully these ones actually stick this year. The match-ups look like they are going to be great and given how close the teams in the Western Conference were I think it may be a toss up.

Let me know what you think of my picks and share your own!

Western Conference

Vancouver vs. ChicagoThe Vancouver Canucks are my pick in this match-up but I wouldn’t count out the Blackhawks in this one either. Throughout the season the two have been relatively equal, with the Canucks taking an overtime victory and therefore the extra point. In the west, this is the match-up I’m most looking forward to. Canucks in 7.

San Jose vs. Los AngelesI’m taking the San Jose Sharks over the Kings even though they tend to disappoint me in the playoffs. The Kings, while young and exciting, are not quite in the Sharks territory yet in terms of experience, so I think they will take this as a learning experience and be back next season to compete. Sharks in 6.

Detroit vs. Phoenix As much as I’d like to see the Coyotes take this one, it’s always a tough choice to go against the Detroit Red Wings. This franchise is always a strong contender for the cup and this season is no different. Wings in 5.

Anaheim vs. NashvilleEven though the Ducks have the NHL’s leading goal scorer in Corey Perry, the Nashville Predators are my dark horse choice this season. If they can get by the Ducks this round I see them at least in the Western finals. Predators in 6.

Eastern Conference

Washington vs. New YorkThis first round matchup suits the Washington Capitals just fine. I’m often disappointed by cheering for them in the playoffs but unless the Rangers pull off a shocking upset I’ll take the Capitals in 6.

Philadelphia vs. BuffaloWith the Flyers coasting in to the playoffs I think the Buffalo Sabres can pull off the upset. It won’t be an easy series, especially in Philadelphia, but I think the Sabres have played hard down the stretch and with Ryan Miller between the pipes, anything can happen. Sabres in 7.

Boston vs. MontrealThis series is the most exciting one in the NHL for me. There is so much bad blood between the two teams it’s sure to be a great one. With the exception of one thumping the Montreal Canadiens have handled the Bruins pretty well this season, so I think they’ll continue that in the first round. Canadiens in 6. (note: I am not cheering for the Habs, I just believe they will win.)

Pittsburgh vs. Tampa BayAnother exciting series is shaping up in the middle of the Eastern Conference. It’s a tough one to call but I think the Tampa Bay Lightning have a chance to overtake the Crosby/Malkin-less Pens. Lightning in 6.

(Graphics thanks to NHL.com)

NHL Playoffs round 3: The predictions

Photo: Getty Images from TSN.ca

So far my predictions haven’t been good by any standard. For the 2nd round I went 1-for-4 (Flyers) and to be honest that was the series I cared the least about, so it was even more of a disappointing result. That being said, I’m feeling really good about the conference finals round. Let’s give it a go shall we?

Eastern Conference prediction:

Philadelphia Flyers vs. Montreal Canadiens: I’ve said many times online and in person, that I will not cannot cheer for the Montreal Canadiens. This, however doesn’t mean I don’t think they’re a good team that’s played really well (and gotten really lucky) during these playoffs. The Canadiens have upset two great teams in the Washington Capitals (first round) and Pittsburgh Penguins (second round) and now they face the team that finished one spot ahead of them in the conference (7th). The Habs are still the underdogs, but not by much. Both teams have also played grueling series’ so fatigue shouldn’t really be a factor either. In the end, the Habs are relying too much on goaltending to win games for them and that luck has to end soon. I have to go ahead and pick the Flyers to take this one. Flyers in 6.

Western Conference prediction:

San Jose Sharks vs. Chicago Blackhawks: This is the series that will produce the next Stanley Cup champion team; you’ve heard it here first. I haven’t been a big promoter of either team so far these playoffs, but both have proven they have what it takes to go all the way. San Jose, the top seed in the Western Conference was a team that has perennially choked come playoff time. I haven’t picked them to win yet, because of this, even though they’re my favourite team in the west, next to Calgary and Vancouver. Chicago is a great young team, and I’ve always had trouble cheering for them, though it may have something to do with past Leafs history (same division when they were in the Western Conference). Because I’m a fan of the young, fast teams (think Washington & Pittsburgh), a small part of me is rooting for these kids to succeed, even though they bounced the Canucks (again). With all that I’m going to have to go with one of my favourites from the conference. Sharks in 6.

There you have it folks. What are your picks for the 3rd round of the playoffs? And why?

2010 playoff ads: a cut above

Two major North American sports, hockey and basketball, are in the middle of their respective playoff series’ right now. If you’re watching them even semi-regularly you’ve likely noticed the league commercials promoting the playoffs for each league..

First up is the NBA‘s ads. The playoff ones are new versions of ones it had been airing throughout the season, focusing on one theme and highlighting different quotes from players/coaches. As soon as I saw them I immediately thought of the Allen Iverson “Practice” remix that’s all over the place. The ads are memorable and really well done, focusing on actual interviews; nothing (that I know of) is scripted so it means more.

The one I chose (below) centres around players talking about focus:

The NHL playoff ads took a different angle, but are no less impressive. These focus on the 2010 playoffs and watching history be made. They don’t look at current player accolades, but instead show past footage of players like Patrick Roy and Wayne Gretzky (below). These are players who stepped their games up in the playoffs and cemented their super-stardom in the post-season. The commercials ask, “What if there was no (insert quality from chosen player)?” while rewinding the video.

Check it out for yourself:

Both ads are incredibly memorable and it’s hard to pick a winner from the two. The NBA ones are more modern and play off peoples’ connection with music and a pop culture reference (Iverson tirade), so that sticks in the viewer’s mind. The NHL ads focus on nostalgia and cause fans to relive the games great moments and wonder what the game would’ve been like without those players.

I’d have to give the slight win to the NBA’s ads simply because they’re something I’d search out to watch on my own, whereas the NHL ones I like, but only really when I see them on TV.

Which one is your favourite and why?

NHL Playoffs round 2: The predictions

Before the first round began I made my predictions and gave my reasons why. I’ll be doing the same this time around, but first lets take a look at how I did. Overall I went 4-for-8 (Pens, Blackhawks, Red Wings, Canucks) – needless to say I didn’t do as well as I’d hoped, especially in my home conference (Eastern). Here’s to hoping for better results this time around.

Eastern Conference predictions:

Pittsburgh Penguins vs Montreal Canadiens: After an amazing upset by the Canadiens against the Capitals in the first round it would take, oh I don’t know, the Stanley Cup champions from the year before to beat them. As luck would have it the Pens won last year and are the team to beat the Canadiens this year. If they don’t? Well we’ll see the Habs in the finals. Pens in 6.

Boston Bruins vs Philadelphia Flyers: Even though Boston beat the Buffalo Sabres, who I thought would be the team to go deep for the East, I think Philadelphia’s play against the Devils has given them the edge. It’ll be a good series, especially with Marc Savard coming back for the Bruins. Flyers in 7.

Western Conference predictions:

San Jose Sharks vs Detroit Red Wings: When you’re a team that’s a perennial choker, it’s hard to pick you as the favourite to win any series. I want the Sharks to win, but if history tells me anything, they won’t. Detroit played well in the last couple games on their way to eliminating the Avs and I think they’ll take that momentum into this series. Red Wings in 7.

Chicago Blackhawks vs Vancouver Canucks: I don’t think either of these teams had too much trouble getting out of the first round. Facing each other will be a different story. Both teams have high expectations, but one, the Canucks will probably face more scrutiny if they don’t perform well. If Vancouver’s offense can pick up, and Luongo continues his stellar play, I say they’ll take it. Sorry Chicago, next year is yours. Canucks in 6.

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