2010 Stanley Cup Playoff Predictions

Here’s what we know about the Stanley Cup playoffs:
– Teams that get hot are the ones that move on. (Hurricanes last year, Flyers two seasons ago, Edmonton in ‘06)
– Sometimes, top teams flame out after a long season (see the #1 seeded Sharks last year falling to Anaheim in round 1)
– Only ONE #1 seed has made it to the Finals since the lockout (really!)
– Goaltending wins Stanley Cups (Fleury, Osgood, Giguere, and Ward last 4 seasons)

Here’s what we don’t know:
– Which teams will catch fire
– Which top teams will continue elite levels of play
– Where the upsets will come from
– What goalie will burst into the spotlight
– Who will take Lord Stanley’s Cup home…

If history has taught us anything it’s that playoff predictions are typically wrong. I thought filling out an NCAA bracket was tough. The 2006 Stanley Cup playoffs were a testament to how difficult it can be in pro hockey as well. This year I’ve gone with reason and gut instincts, but I’ve mixed things up a bit for fun. Here’s my take…

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Cup Contenders: Right now, the Capitals look poised to make a Cup charge, with New Jersey and Pittsburgh as the next two contenders. All three teams have a few questions marks, but most people’s money will be on these top 3 in the East.

Sleeper Alert: Boston Bruins – behind a solid net minder in Tukkaa Rask and a core of players who were one goal from the Conference Finals last season.

Series Breakdowns:

The Capitals showcase the best young talent in the league (Ovechkin, Semin, Backstrom, and Green), but they have yet to get over the hump, and only boast one player (Mike Knuble) who has won a Stanley Cup. The Capitals scoring alone can win them a close game, and can get them back in a series even if they fall behind. Coach Boudreau showed last year that he’s not afraid to mix things up with his net minders. It seems like Jose Theodore would be the logical choice, as he’s gone undefeated in regular over his last 23 starts. One problem… he’d be facing his old team (and their rowdy fans) in the first round. Montreal hockey-goers hide no feelings; they’ll do whatever it takes to make the former Canadien goalie as uncomfortable as possible. The Habs themselves boast the second best power play in the league and beat the Caps twice in the regular season. Goalie Jaroslav Halak has been solid since the Olympics, but only has about 90 minutes of playoff experience.

Verdict: Capitals in 6

Despite a goal tally that continues to plummet each year, the Devils know that on the shoulders of Brodeur alone, they can achieve their ultimate goal; no other NHL team has as much confidence in their goalie. The Flyers are in the opposite end of the boat, they’ve scored goals lately and have had to turn to their 3rd string goaltender to keep pucks out of the net. Philly beat New Jersey 5 times in the regular season, which may show that they’ve learned how to beat one of the league’s stingiest defenses of all time. They’ve got plenty of guys that can score; unfortunately many of them are on the shelf with injuries.

Verdict: Devils in 6

The Sabres and Bruins is one of the more intriguing match-ups on the postseason slate. Both teams boast a solid net minder who looks capable of taking his team to the promised land. Buffalo’s Ryan Miller is more proven than Boston’s Tuukka Rask, but the Bruins defense showed up big time late in the season. Buffalo’s team is much younger and may run into problems when facing guys on the B’s who have been around longer (like Recchi, Chara, and Satan). Overall the edge may have to go to the Bruins, who took home 4 wins in 6 games against the Sabres in the regular season.

Verdict: Bruins in 7

The Penguins and Senators will be matched up in the playoffs for the third time in 4 seasons. Don’t expect the Sens to roll over and get swept like they did in 2008. Ottawa’s Brian Elliot looks strong and beat the Pens earlier in the season. A Pittsburgh lineup that features most of the team that won the Cup a season ago, looks to get back to the Finals for a third straight year. The targets are affixed to their backs, but the Pens seem to welcome the pressure that goes along with playing alongside the league’s most publicized player. The Sens may not be favorites, but they’ll play a closer series than most are expecting

Verdict: Penguins in 6

WESTERN CONFERENCE

Cup Contenders: the Red Wings look like the hottest team in the West right now, but the top 3 seeds in San Jose, Chicago, and Vancouver are all legitimate threats to the crown. Goal tending points won’t go to the Hawks or Sharks, and experience has to make the Red Wings a favorite despite being the #5 seed.

Sleeper Alert: Coyotes – they’ve defied the odds to this point and seemingly have one of the top 3 goalies in the league, I’d say it’s not out of the realm of possibilities.

Series Breakdowns:


It seems like San Jose is that team that can’t get over the postseason hump. Aside from winning Western Conference regular season titles, they’ve got little else to brag about.

While the Avalanche appear to be young and vulnerable, don’t expect a thrashing in this series. Young players like Stasny, Stewart, and Duchene could bounce back from an ugly ending to the regular season and win a game or two. Craig Anderson has been good for the Avs, but I believe San Jose actually has the edge with Nabokov in net.

Sharks in 5

The battle between Chicago and Nashville might end up being one of the more lopsided playoff series in the West. While the Predators have played fairly well all season, they are still a team that fails to match up well with their opponents in this case. Pekka Rinne played well at times, but his losing skids were endless at some points. If Chicago can get on the board early, they won’t have to worry that their goalie’s name is Neimi. I expect Sharp, Toews, and Kane to light things up, their newly added veterans to assist with the experience factor, and the Hawks to cruise into the second round.

Blackhawks in 4

In the undercard series, the Canucks and Kings will both look to ride balanced attacks into the second round of the playoffs. Neither team is very deep, and both rely on stars like the Sedin twins, Luongo, Kopitar and Doughty. I think this series could be closer than anticipated. The Canucks have the edge in net, with Canada’s golden goalie. LA looks to have the edge in experience (Modin, Scuderi, and Williams all have won Stanley Cups). If recent play is factored in, the Kings late season slide does not bode well for their chances of advancing.

Canucks in 6

The Red Wings appear to be playing at the same dangerous level as always. Aside from their struggles earlier in the season, they hung around the playoff hunt, and found a star in Jimmy Howard. Goaltending wins championships, and although Howard is just 26 years old, he is playing like a veteran, and has plenty of vets across the lineup to back him up. The pesky Coyotes will grab most headlines to start out, as this is their first playoff appearance in almost a decade, and the team almost folded a few months ago. But the series will be played on the ice, where the Red Wings are on fire lately. Although Bryzgalov is probably the most deserving of the league MVP award, and despite the fact that the ‘Yotes played Detroit close this year, the Red Wings look too good right now to warrant a different result.

Red Wings in 6

FINALS

I’ll take the Devils to meet the Capitals in the East; both teams owned the defending champs in the regular season, and I think the Pens run will finally come to an end. I’ll give the Devils the edge in this match-up, due to their stingy defense and the guy they have blocking pucks in front of goal. Ovechkin will fail to make his Stanley Cup debut again. I also have a hunch that Washington’s goalie situation will take a troublesome turn.

In the West I believe the Red Wings will oust the Sharks and meet the Canucks in the Conference Finals, but Canadians will have the last laugh again, as Henrik Sedin and the boys in Vancouver march on to the Finals. Howard will be good, but I’m seeing a change up this year in the final two…

So, it’ll be the Canucks and the Devils in the Stanley Cup Finals. The Canucks will rely on stellar play from its top line, but it won’t be enough to overcome the Devils, as Brodeur claims his 4th Cup. Enjoy!!!

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One Response to 2010 Stanley Cup Playoff Predictions

  1. Crowsblog says:

    I agree with 6 out of 8 of your picks for the most part (except for the length of some of the series). I have the Sabres downing the Bruins in 5 boring games, and Phoenix surprising everyone by taking out Detroit in game 7. Overall you seem to have a good read on things. well done!

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