Hunt for Lord Stanley’s Mug: Part 1

Posted: April 30, 2013 by ajaysharma18 in Uncategorized

NHL_2013_StanleyCupPlayoffs_English_Primary

The Stanley Cup Playoffs have arrived!  It is an exciting time for those organizations that have endured the shortened season.  Starting on Tuesday April 30th, 16 teams will engage in fierce competition for the privilege to hoist the ever coveted Stanley Cup.  The Sports Posse, much like all hockey fans across the world, is continuously in debate as to which team, or teams, have the greatest chance at hockey glory.  Here I will briefly breakdown the first round matches in the Eastern Conference and attempt to garner which team will advance based on some key factors.  Here we go!

Eastern Conference:

Pittsburgh Penguins(1) vs. New York Islanders(8)

The Penguins come in as the number one seed in the East.  They are a powerhouse.  If they weren’t already good enough, they went out and grabbed Brenden Morrow, Jussi Jokinen, and of course Jarome Iginla.  On paper this is a huge mismatch.  Pittsburgh is superior in every category you can think of.  A healthy Crosby spells nightmares for the Isles.  The only way New York can manage a couple of wins or even a monumental upset, is by getting to Marc-Andre Fleury.  Fleury was the worst goaltender during last year’s playoffs, as Philadelphia made his jock strap hang from the rafters game after game.  John Tavares will get his first taste of the post season, and as good as his line with Brad Boyes and Matt Moulson is, they will be hard pressed to do any real damage to the Penguins.  Lost in all this talk is Evgeni Malkin.  He has had a tough year but lets get serious…it’s Malkin.  He can take over a game whenever he desires.  Look for the Penguins to win this series comfortably. Prediction: Pittsburgh in 5

Montreal Canadiens(2) vs. Ottawa Senators(7)

Two Canadian teams go at it in this series.  All eyes will be on Erik Karlsson, and whether his surgically repaired achilles will be able to holdup in the rigors of playoff hockey.  Ottawa has been a great team all season, even with the major injuries to their all-stars.  There are a couple of key stories to follow here.  A) Can Carey Price bounce back from his late season woes? B) Can P.K. Subban refrain from taking bonehead penalties? C) Can the young Sens team build on their regular season success and continue to click? I think Carey Price will bounce back and outplay Craig Anderson throughout the series, however Anderson is more than capable of stealing a few games on his own.  It will be a tight series, however I feel Montreal has a slight edge in the series. Prediction: Montreal in 7

Washington Capitals(3) vs. New York Rangers(6)

Ovechkin and company have been the hottest team in hockey for the past month or so.  Ovie sky-rocketed himself up the scoring ladder and finished with a league best 32 goals.  These two teams have created quite a playoff rivalry in the past few years.  Because of how Washington and Ovechkin have been playing, many are counting Rangers out…foolish.  The Rangers are a very skilled team.  The combination of Rick Nash-Derek Stepan has done wonders down the stretch for New York as they were able to solidify the number six spot.  Henrik Lundqvist started the season slowly, however has elevated his play.  It’s hard to pick against Washington, however this writer believes otherwise.  New York has more depth, better team structure, and there’s very few better than King Henrik when he’s on.  The Rangers will win this close and contested series. Prediction: New York in 6

Boston Bruins(4) Vs. Toronto Maple Leafs(5)

The Leafs are playing postseason hockey…but it’s against the Bruins.  Leaf fans were holding their breath on the last day of the season when Boston played Ottawa.  As the final buzzer sounded, you could hear the shouts, the screams, and even the occasional cry..(probably me).  Boston was the last team Toronto wanted to face, however we shouldn’t sell this team short just yet.  Like always, spotlight goes on Phil Kessel.  Stage fright, for lack of a better term, is what everyone believes consumes Kessel when he plays Boston…Chara’s a scary dude! This is more of a series for the media than it is for the hockey fan.  Boston has the experience, and in a seven game series they definitely have the advantage.  The Leafs can pull out a monumental upset if the whole team can contribute, Phil Kessel can be a plus, and James Reimer can stand on his shoulders like he has all season long.  The Health of Patrice Bergeron is important for Boston, as he has been their best player while in the lineup. For Toronto, Tyler Bozak will be relied upon for critical face offs, one matchup that Boston surely wins.  Getting 15 shots on goal just won’t cut it for Toronto in the playoffs.  It hurts to say the Leafs won’t advance, however the logical pick here is Boston.  Boston advances..Leafs fan’s empty their wallet,  Simple math. Prediction: Boston in 6

Stay tuned as later today we will give our take on the Western Conference matchups.

By: Ajay Sharma – Hockey Writer

Photo Credit: http://www.NHL.com

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