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“Tonight, We Rise.”

Well, it’s finally the best time of year again – that’s right, the Stanley Cup Playoffs. What’s that? You think the NFL or NBA Playoffs are better?

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Can we stop for a moment to comment about how dumb this new playoff format is? Because it’s pretty freaking dumb. This whole conference realignment was a botch. All they needed to do was switch  Nashville with Winnipeg, or move Winnipeg, Minnesota, and Nashville, but NO, the league bows to its master of Detroit and allows them the Eastern Conference spot they think they so richly deserve. That’s ok. The previous format was far superior – this format’s going to be boring by next year when we keep having the same matchups.

Also, since this is is the first time I’m writing these on WordPress instead of Xanga, I may separate the predictions into four separate posts instead of one long entry, like I normally do. Also, since it’s also public, it’s forced to have a more logical title than a music lyric that I would use that would fit the bill.

Also, with each passing year, it seems I get to watch less and less of the games and am forced to listen on the radio or not at all, and I haven’t even watched highlights for most of this season outside of the Hawks, Sharks, and Leafs, so hopefully that won’t hinder the post too much. I really don’t enjoy listening to games either – I may know what’s going on in general, but it never paints an accurate enough picture to know what’s going on, and why things are or are not working. That’s really only going to come into play when talking about the Hawks, though.

I don’t really want to separate these by conference with markers like I used to, because now there’s four conferences, with stupid names in some instances, and weird locations for teams in others. And the wild card thing is dumb. Again, top 8 was pretty simple, I don’t understand. Just know that in future rounds, the winners of the first two matchups spoken about will play each other in the next round, and so on, down.

(1) Boston Bruins vs. (WC2) Detroit Red Wings

The Boston Bruins won the President’s Trophy this season, and, regardless of had they won that, they are probably my odds on favorite to win the Cup this season. It’s hard to argue with that when the team goes on a ten game winning streak near the end of the year. You can talk about the President’s Trophy curse thing all you want – it didn’t matter to the Hawks, and I can’t see the Bruins being the kind of team to fall to it either. And if the Bruins do end up winning – hey, at least Iginla gets a ring.

The Detroit Red Wings managed a playoff spot basically because the Toronto Maple Leafs choked at the end of the season, losing eight in a row in March. Detroit played mediocre at best all season after having to deal with many injuries. I’m very disappointed with Toronto, both because my third team failed and missed the playoffs, but also because they’ve allowed Detroit’s precious playoff streak thingy that they seem to love talking about these days to carry on, because from what it sounds like they think it’s more important than the Stanley Cup itself.

As far as predictions go – while I think Detroit will put up quite the fight, like they did to Chicago last year, it’s nearly impossible to say that Boston won’t defeat them, especially if they don’t have everyone back from injury.

(2) Tampa Bay Lightning vs. (3) Montreal Canadiens

Nice to see Tampa Bay back in the playoffs, after two years I believe? That could be wrong. Honestly I haven’t really been following their season all that much, so there’s not much to say outside of the fact that they beat the Hawks twice. That and the Marty St. Louis trade and whatnot.

I can’t say too much about the Canadiens either, for the same reason. The less I get to watch or pay attention, the more the east gets neglected, considering I only like Toronto (and Boston sometimes), and Pittsburgh is shoved down everyone’s throats so you kind of know without really wanting to.

As far as the matchup itself goes – I think they’ve got something between them where someone on Montreal (Brandon Prust?) went after the Lightning’s goalie Ben Bishop during a break or something. I don’t know. I’m predicting Montreal to win.

(1) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. (WC1) Columbus Blue Jackets

The Pittsburgh Penguins continue to be the Pittsburgh Penguins. That’s legitimately all I have to say about them. If you watch hockey, you all know how wonderful they are because you never stop hearing about it.

The Columbus Blue Jackets made it to the playoffs for the second time in franchise history, presumably because they played as well as they did near the end of last season and are in the easier conference. But considering we only play them twice, I know less about them than usual.

I predict Pittsburgh to win, but if the Jackets manage to pull it off, I wouldn’t be surprised. But I am hoping for a Pittsburgh/Philadelphia matchup because those are always shitshows.

(2) New York Rangers vs. (3) Philadelphia Flyers

The New York Rangers started off the season pretty terribly, and that’s all I’ve really paid attention to them all season.

The Philadelphia Flyers also did terribly in the beginning of the season, but managed to make the playoffs after a much better rest of it. (Wow, I’m so good at these things. So much insight!)

I feel like New York either always plays the Flyers or Capitals every year. I’m so tired of it. If Lundqvist can play up to his standards, then the Rangers will probably win, but I do want a Pens/Flyers series as I’ve said.

(1) Anaheim Ducks vs. (WC2) Dallas Stars

The Anaheim Ducks won the Western Conference after St. Louis decided to choke in their last six games, when it looked so much like the Blues would win the President’s Trophy.

The Dallas Stars have made the playoffs for the first time since around 2008. Good for them, I guess. Antoine Roussell is still a douchebag, though.

Anaheim to win. Not expecting much out of this, really.

(2) San Jose Sharks vs. (3) Los Angeles Kings

The San Jose Sharks have had a really good season, although I feel like that, no matter how good they are in recent years, they often get overlooked in more recent years considering how good they almost always are in still lost. One of these days, they’ll get there. Hopefully Raffi Torres isn’t on the team when that happens.

The Los Angeles Kings can be as good as they have been in recent memory, as long as Johnathan Quick can be as good as he normally is.

This series is one that’s happened a few times in recent years, and both have been pretty fun. I’m looking forward to this one perhaps the most. Last year was one of those “Home team always wins” kind of deals, so you knew the winner going into game 7. If that’s how it’s going to be this year, then SJ will win. And I think they will, regardless of that.

(1) Colorado Avalanche vs. (WC1) Minnesota Wild

Well, I have to hand it to Colorado – somehow they went from last season’s mediocre at best team to winning the Central. Part of that has to to do with STL choking, too, of course, but even if that hadn’t happened, they’d have still gotten second, which is still a testament to their hard work. It still baffles me how last year’s team + Nathan MacKinnon + Patrick Roy as coach = 1st in the central, because that’s somewhat ridiculous. They’re reaching levels of overrated that I do not like. Right now, they’re probably the team I hate most that’s in the playoffs, considering how amazing they think they are, the Canucks were terrible and didn’t make it (HA), and they employ a woman-beater as their goalie.

Despite those big offseason acquisitions a couple years ago, Minnesota still struggles to make it much higher in the standings, and now Bryzgalov is their goalie.

Colorado wins.

(2) St. Louis Blues vs. (3) Chicago Blackhawks

Another year, another time everyone touts the St. Louis Blues as an incredible team that’s going to win the Cup. And another year, they show signs that they aren’t as good as they, and everyone, seem to think they are. Losing the last six games going into the playoffs? What a Cup Contender. Defense wins championships, yes, and STL has plenty, but with no goals you can’t do that. Their offense has been dwindling lately, and if Oshie and Backes are out, that will spell trouble. In the end, STL is a dirty team that looks to injure as many as possible, and when they can’t win, you’d better keep your head up. When it comes down to it, St. Louis is the hockey version of Ryback. They even have a Ryan Reaves on their team.

The Chicago Blackhawks have had an…interesting season. They’ve had flashes of brilliance at times, and flashes of borderline mediocrity at others. It seems that when they’re ready to play, no one can stop them. But if they aren’t, then everything fails. Many times this year have the Hawks gone down several goals, and many times they’ve come back – a lot of those times though, they still lost in OT or a shootout. We went to OT or a shootout 20+ this season, six times have we won. The only OT winner came in game 80. Despite that, the Hawks lost both Kane and Toews to injuries near the end of the season, and without them, they went on a four game winning streak, before losing the last two games of the season – those two games were meaningless, though, and tons of random AHL’ers were playing, so it doesn’t really count. Losing Toews and Kane, who will be back on Thursday when it’s time for game one, may prove to be the best thing that’s happened to this team. It may have lit a fire under the rest of them that will continue to burn once the playoffs begin, and Toews and Kane will no doubt follow suit. With a reinvigorated, healthy lineup, the Hawks can go as far as they so desire in the playoffs. They certainly have the talent. There’s no reason that they can’t win the Cup again – the question, as always, is will they?

As far as this series goes, it will be a tough one. While STL won the season series (STL is 3-2-0, CHI is 2-1-2), and they may appear to have the Hawks’ number in the eyes of many, let’s take a little bit of a closer look at those games.

Game 1 was near the beginning of the season. It was a tight game – the Blues took the lead twice, both times in the second, then took penalties very shortly after each time, and the Hawks capitalized on them quickly. The Blues won when Seabrook made one bad decision in the final minute, allowing the Blues to score with 17 seconds left. Had there been a couple more minutes, the Hawks may have tied it up just like they had previously, but they didn’t have any time. Blues win.

Game 2 was a week or so after that. Blues won in OT, similar game to the first game.

Game 3 was a high scoring affair, near the end of December. Hawks gave up two two goal leads, then lost in a shootout. A third one goal game. Not even relevant, though, because it was won in a shootout, which doesn’t exist in the playoffs. This one gets thrown out.

Game 4 was about three weeks ago. This time, the Blues had new goaltender Ryan Miller. The Hawks won 4-0. The first “decisive” win in this season series, and the Hawks won it.

Game 5 was last Sunday. Hawks win 4-2. More closely contested than game 4, yes, but still one of only two “decisive” victories in the series.

So, only two decisive victories in this series, and both went to the Hawks. So, there’s no reason the Hawks can’t win this series. With the Blues having a couple injuries at the moment, and going on a downward spiral at the moment, and the Hawks getting back Toews and Kane and having a fire lit under them – as long as goaltending and special teams are strong, especially the PK, and they can avoid what I’m sure will be many attempts by STL to instigate, infuriate, and injure (Those I guess are the Blues “three I’s”) the Hawks, they can win this series.

As usual I’ll be back with more predictions as the playoffs continue.

#LaterMarks #ButImNotWrong #BelieveInTheShield #StraightEdgeMeansImBetterThanYou #FollowTheBuzzards #IAmTheEaterOfWorlds #WalkWithTheReapers

!bye

-Mzrc-

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