2012 NHL Playoff Picks, Round One

I’m focusing not only on the goaltending rollercoaster this playoffs (with the annual obligatory nod to Dave Hannah), but goal differential (hello, Florida Panthers).

East

NY Rangers/Ottawa
Lundqvist career playoffs: .909, 2.60, 3 SO. Anderson career playoffs (small sample size alert): .933, 2.62, one memorable (to Avalanche & Shark fans) 51- save shutout. I wasn’t expecting Ottawa to make the playoffs this season, but I do expect this series to be closer than one would think if the Sens can score enough. The Rangers were +39, the Senators were +9. Rangers in six.

Boston/Washington
With Tuukka Rask injured and Tim Thomas suffering the Curse of Obama, I would expect this one to be closer than one might expect too, depending on the Caps’ own goaltending woes (Holtby? a less than 100% Vokoun?). The Bruins were an NHL-best +67, the Caps a horrendous -9. I doubt they will repeat as Cup winners, but as far as Round One goes, Bruins in six.

Florida/New Jersey
I’m not a fan of what Dale Tallon did last offseason, and as much as the 2012 Brodeur and Hedberg tandem don’t scare me, Theodore and Clemmensen don’t offer much, if any, more. The Devils have the better D (Adam Larsson looks pretty good) and the better O (Kovalchuk, Parise, Henrique, a healthy Zajac, and a decent second line of Elias-Zubrus-Sykora). Florida has Tomas Fleischmann, Sean Bergenheim, and a roster full of supporting players with ugly contracts. The Panthers were a terrible -24, the Devils were +19. New Jersey in five.

Pittsburgh/Philadelphia
Pittsburgh was my Stanley Cup pick last fall, and the Flyers’ success at Consol Energy Center hasn’t changed my mind. Crosby, Malkin, Staal, Letang are simply too much for a best of seven series, and although I would actually take Bryzgalov over Vezina candidate Marc-Andre Fleury when healthy, Ilya may not be or it may simply not matter. The Penguins were +61, the Flyers +32. Pittsburgh in seven.

West

Vancouver/Los Angeles
Excellent matchup for the Canucks, I think. The Kings went 25-13-11 (and arguably still underachieved) under Darryl Sutter but scored the fewest goals of any playoff team (194), or 55 goals fewer than the West-leading Canucks. Quick has been outstanding for LA this season (.929, 1.95, 6 SO); Schneider may have been even better for Vancouver (.937, 1.96, 3 SO). If I were Vigneault, though, I would go with Luongo, but on a short hook. I expect that Vigneault will go with Luongo, on a short hook. So there. The Canucks were +51, the Kings +15. Canucks in five.

St. Louis/San Jose
The Sharks were my other Stanley Cup finals pick last fall, and were more unlucky than bad this season, not exactly proving me wrong (yet). St. Louis went 43-15-11 under Ken Hitchcock but is hardly the West favorite. The Blues will probably have more luck with a playoff goaltending tandem than any team since the 2003 Minnesota Wild, and it may just be enough for one round. St. Louis was +45, the Sharks +18. Blues in seven.

Phoenix/Chicago
When will the Coyotes actually win a playoff series? Probably now. I think Mike Smith is vastly underrated (who outside of Phoenix knows that he went .930, 2.21, 8 SO?), and I don’t think Corey Crawford or Ray Emery is especially good, and since neither team is lights-out scoringwise, goaltending will probably be the difference here. I will also enjoy ex-Canuck Raffi Torres leveling some opposing punk (#88 perhaps?). The Coyotes were +12, the Blackhawks +10. Phoenix in six.

Nashville/Detroit
This matchup was remarkably close in 2004, thanks mostly to Tomas Vokoun (2-4, .939, 2.02, SO). Even with the Predators having home ice advantage this time, though, I would expect about the same result. Unlike the overrated Pekka Rinne, Jimmy Howard may be the most underrated goalie outside of Mike Smith this postseason (assuming enough non-West Coasters have seen much of Jonathan Quick), and Detroit is Detroit, meaning Datsyuk and Zetterberg and Franzen and Lidstrom and enough of the usual names to still scare you. Detroit was +45, Nashville +27, and of course the Red Wings were also 31-7-3 at home. Detroit in six in what will not be an upset.

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One Response to “2012 NHL Playoff Picks, Round One”

  1. […] the playoff began, I picked the Canucks in six. I doubted LA would score enough to win a seven game series, even with Jeff Carter. Arguably, they […]

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