Tuesday, April 15, 2014

2014 Divisional Quarter Finals Predictions

1) The most exciting time of year is upon us. The Stanley Cup Playoffs! The premiere tournament in ALL of team sports. We will go through each of the 8 opening round series. Predict the winner and the number of games it may take to achieve the results as well as discuss some of the factors that resulted in our prediction. 

First The East

1) Boston-VS- Detroit:  Amazingly the two teams last met in the 1957 Stanley Cup semifinals, with the Bruins winning 4-1. Here it is 2014 and most prognosticators/bettors have their money on the Bruins. And why not?  From top to bottom they have few if any clear weaknesses. Can roll 4 lines all capable of both scoring and preventing goals. Solid defense led by the ageless Z-Chara, and Vezina callibre goaltending in Rask. The Redwings on the other hand have an interesting mix of youth and vets (assuming Datsyuk is back) who will not be out worked.  With Babcock behind the bench they won't be outcoached either. All that said we don't think these Redwings will be able to withstand a much deeper team in Boston and despite the games being close, we expect the Bruins to win a short series.  Bruins in 5 

2) Pittsburgh-VS Columbus:  The Blue Jackets' only 2nd ticket to the dance and the first since 2009. Columbus have been playing excellent hockey as of late, winning four of the past five to clinch a spot in the postseason. The primary reason why has been the amazing play of goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, who has carried his team down the stretch. Penguins have beaten Columbus in all five games they have played this year.  Columbus' only hope is if M.A. Fleury  is in 'playoff form'and 'Bob' can steal a game or two.  Else it'll be a short series. Penguins in 5 

3) New York -VS- PhiladelphiaThe Rangers and Flyers have met 10 previous times in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but the two teams last met in the 1997 Eastern Conference Final when it seemed they played in the playoffs every season. While the name of the division may be different, it's now known as the Metropolitan Division,the intense rivalry between the New York Rangers  and the Philadelphia Flyers is just as heated as always. While both New York and Philadelphia have outstanding offensive units that can make serious noise, the key in this first-round series will be the special teams and goaltending, which is why we like NY. Rangers in 6

4) Tampa Bay-VS- MontrealThe Canadiens and Lightning have met once before in the Stanley Cup Playoffs when the Lightning were on their way to their one Cup back in 2004. Two evenly matched teams, outside of the Habs’ PK advantage and Tampa’s advantage 5-on-5. While some see the injury to Bishop as a large detriment we do not. Anders Linback played the last 2 weeks as the goalie the Bolts thought they traded for 2 years ago; large and imposing.  With the huge win at the end the Lightning copped home ice advantage which in our opinion will be the deciding factor here.  Lightning in 7

Next The West

1) Colorado-VS- MinnesotaThis is the third meeting between the Wild and Avalanche, with each team winning once. The hockey world waits to see what comes crashing back down to Earth first: The Wild’s goaltending or the entire Avalanche hockey club.  We believe that for the first round anyway, the Avalanche possess way too much overall talent to be denied. Although Bryzgalov will undoubtedly play large in goal and Parise/Suter will do their thing, they won't be quite enough and the Avs will advance.  Avalanche in 5

2) St. Louis-VS- Chicago: This is the 11th meeting between the Blues and Blackhawks in the Playoffs, but first since 2002. The overarching storyline in these contests would be the health of Chicago’s Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. Both will play Game 1, but will they be 100%? While St. Louis has been excellent throughout the season, the fact that Chicago will be getting its two stars back in time for the playoffs and has the Stanley Cup experience from last year under its belt, and the fact that the Blues looked quite ordinary the last couple of weeks of the season. We believe those factors are enough to tilt this series the Chcago's way.  Black Hawks in 6

3) Anaheim-VS- Dallas:This is the third meeting between the Stars and Ducks, the teams splitting the first 2 meetings.  Can Bruce Boudreau avoid another playoff flop? Dallas did a great job to over take the Coyotes towards the end of the season saving their best hockey for last.  Will that translate into playoff success?  We believe at best it will give the Ducks a run for their money, but in the end Anaheim simply has too many weapons on offense, and regardless who plays net, top notch goalkeeping to be denied.  Ducks in 5

4) San Jose -VS- Los AngelesThis is the third meeting between the Sharks and Kings, each team having spit the first two.  Like we alluded to in a recent post, with a plethora of good teams out West, at least one would be dispatched in the first round.  Which California team will be golfing shortly?  The former champs in LA had an uneven season. Once again unable to score consistently, but getting great defense/goaltending to win their share of games. The Sharks on the other hand have multiple scoring weapons and their not shy using them.  Their goalie, Niemi is no slouch in net either, having already hoisted a Cup (in Chicago) As is usually the case it will come down to special teams and we believe that the Kings being more experienced and better at playing close games will ultimately prevail, but NOT easily.  Kings in 7

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