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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Eastern Conference Nightmare First Round Scenarios

OK, yes this is going to be a painful post for me as I can't stand the New Jersey Devils. The objective journalist in me, as well as Gopher, begged me to do something about this since there is a real possibility the Devils end up as the 1-seed in the Eastern Conference.

Why stop there though? Gopher and I put our minds together and came up with the idea for the nightmare situation for the top 4 seeds in the East.

New Jersey Devils

Right now there is a chance they could play one of about five teams in the first round. Those teams are: Boston, Philadelphia, Buffalo, Florida and Washington.

Washington getting into the playoffs would be a great story wouldn't it? Also, of the five teams listed there, I think New Jersey might have a small collective accident should the Caps get in.

Here's why, Cristobal Huet and Alexander Ovechkin. Do I really even need to explain this? Huet has been a wall since being traded to the Caps and Ovechkin is the current NHL points leader.

In case you've been under a rock for the last couple years and haven't seen what Ovechkin is capable of, here you go:



New Jersey will fall to a team who can control the pace of the game and get them out of their trap defensive scheme. If the game becomes an end to end game, the Devils cannot and will not prevail. They win games by playing lockdown defense and scoring goals off turnovers in the neutral zone.

Philadelphia, Boston, Buffalo and Florida should they make it stand no chance. There's not much explanation needed here.

Buffalo has lost three defensemen in the last week.

Boston has some serioulsy shaky goaltenders though Auld has played well lately.

Florida's hopes would solely rest on the shoulders of Vokoun.

Montreal Canadiens

Who would give the Canadiens fits int he first round you say? How about a fellow Original 6 team? The New York Rangers.

If there is a team in the playoffs right now who should be able to put up 5 goals a game, it's the Rangers. Not to mention Henrik Lundqvist has proven that he can be an absolute machine in net and can take over any given game.

There's a reason he's got the nickname of King Henrik. Here's just a sample of his jaw dropping ability.



I know I keep harping on this point, but Montreal has an inexperienced goalie in 20-year-old Carey Price. If he falters even a little bit, how long will the Habs stick with him before going to Jaroslav Halak?

The Rangers have guys that would have no problem getting into his kitchen and trying to rattle the young guy. I wouldn't be surprised at all to see Sean Avery camped in his crease and taking extra hacks after the whistle every chance he gets.

Carolina Hurricanes

Picking this one proved rather difficult as I don't believe the Canes should even be a 3-seed. See my earlier post on how I'd restructure how teams qualify for the playoffs for further details.

Sorry Canes fans, but I'm taking the field on this one. Take your pick of teams to finish as the 6-seed, doesn't matter.

Calling this now. Whoever plays the Canes in the first round is moving on. Period. Both of the other divisions in the East are top to bottom better than the teams in the Southeast division.

I couldn't come up with any snazzy highlight video for this one, so here's one of my all-time favorite clips and since I work in news here you go:



When will the NHL wake up and stop rewarding mediocrity? I for one hope it's soon.

So to recap, Carolina's nightmare is making the playoffs.

Gopher's reaction to the above is simply this: "The nightmare isn't just making the playoffs, but also missing out on a lottery miracle."

Pittsburgh Penguins

This may sound a little unorthodox here, but I'm going to draw on my personal experience of growing up near Boston and seeing the Penguins play roughly a dozen times over the years in person up there.

The Pens have a serious mental block against the Bruins. It seems like they cannot beat them. Ever. Especially in Boston. I think my career record in Boston is 1-10 when in attendance for a game between these two. That one win came last March. I'm still in awe that it actually happened.

I had to watch these highlights again just to be sure it actually happened. Side note, when I was doing my worst announcers post I entirely forgot about this crew. Consider them No. 6 on the list.



Are the Pens a better overall team than Boston? Yes. Do I think the Pens would probably prevail given the recent injuries and shaky play of Tim Thomas? Yes. Would I literally have a heart attack during this series? You can put money on it.

You may all be thinking that Ottawa would be a worse nightmare in the first round, but I really think the Pens could avenge last year's early dispatching despite being 1-3 against the Senators this season. We were 3-1 against them last year and were gone in five games against them in the first round.

It's pretty simple right now in why the Pens would beat the Senators.

Martin Gerber.

Gerber has been playing very well lately, but no one can keep up that kind of pace. Just look at how Ty Conklin has done over his last few games. When Gerber returns to Earth, he will be a slightly above average goalie. He has yet to show the Gerber that got the Hurricanes into the playoffs where Cam Ward took over and won the Cup since coming to Ottawa.

Not to mention, Ray Emery may be the unofficial biggest headcase in the NHL.

Anyway, if my theory about Pitt being unable to win in Boston for whatever reason, the Bruins would only have to win one of four potential games at the Igloo.

So there you have it, the Western Conference nightmares will be up next. Check back tomorrow and thanks for reading.

7 comments:

George said...

now look what you've done... im gonna be up all night watching ovechkin highlights because of you!

George
http://sportstsar.com/

be cynical said...

Any chance of a monetary wager regarding the Canes? Carolina and Washington are peaking at the right time, and are, along with New Jersey, the best of the East. The Canes would have no problem with Pittsburgh, Boston, Ottawa, Montreal or the Rangers. Washington is the team I'm afraid of.

WufPirate said...

What cynical ^ said, ditto. Do you really think that Toronto or the Isles are better than Carolina?

Matt said...

Its not a matter of the Isles or Toronto being able to take out the Canes because they aren't going to make it. Its the fact that other 4 of 5 teams, that get to the 6th seed, whether its the Rangers, Caps, Sabres, Bruins, or Flyers would kill the Canes. The combination of a low PP% with a poor PK Kill% is going to do this team in. Based on the current points, Carolina is the 6th or 7th best team in the conference and will be facing a team with more points in the 6 seed.

Apryl DeLancey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Apryl DeLancey said...

Nice touch with the "news clip"...all I have to say is watch out for the Los Angeles Kings in the west next year...or maybe the year after...or...well...

Stevens8204 said...

Excellent work there. Though the New Jersey nightmare scenario frightens me greatly. Check out The NHL Arena and the blog sometime.