Well we are just about to start the 2011-2012 season playoffs. There is much to speak about in terms of who’s in and who’s out, what match-ups are in the first round and of course, predictions.
If you’re a Canadian like me, having only 2 of 7 teams in the playoffs is a little depressing. We are supposed to be the “dominant” nation of the sport. Have no fear though, there’s plenty of Canadian talent on those American teams. Do the two teams (Ottawa and Vancouver) have a chance to go all the way? One might say that Vancouver is a sure bet to make their respective conference final and league final. Though, one half of the dynamic duo, Sedin twins is currently injured and questionable for the first games. Ottawa has been a surprise of sorts this season. Not that they shouldn’t be in the playoffs with the talent they have. The surprise comes from their relatively consistent play throughout the entire season. Can they win the East? My humble opinion is no. With teams like Boston, Philly, Pittsburgh and New York (Rangers) in the mix, Ottawa will have to do something quite memorable to make the cup final.
The “dark-horse” or “underdog” of the playoffs this year would have to be the Florida Panthers. Where did they come from? Ending one of the longest current streaks of consecutive playoff misses, one can only say – you go Florida, you go.
The first round playoff match-up you shouldn’t miss? That would have to be a classic, the Pens and the Flyers. There’s already such a rivalry this season it’s bound to spill into the first few games of the series. Braydon Schenn of Philadelphia was quoted in a recent interview saying, “There’s a lot of bad blood between the two teams already and there’s going to be more.”
The teams you should watch out for? This writer is going with the Nashville Predators and St. Louis Blues. The Predators are just one of those teams that can beat anyone on a given night with a ferocious defense and solid goaltending. In fact, Pecca Rinne of Nashville recorded the most wins this season of any goaltender and with the recent addition of sniper Alexander Radulov to their forward line, the Preds may upset a couple of teams. On the other hand, you’ve got the Blues. They have been an enigma this season placing 2nd in the Western Conference. Much like Florida, they simply came out of nowhere and could go all the way on the back of great team play and strong duo goaltending in the form of Jan Halak and Brian Elliott.
My picks for the finals east vs west are as follows: I believe Boston is going all the way to the final for the east and Detroit for the west. Only time will tell.