O'Callahan: Predictions O'Plenty
Wednesday, 04.15.2009 / 3:37 PM CT / Feature
By Seamus O'Callahan - Hockey Historian
The only problem? The one team I missed on was our Dallas Stars (I didn’t have St. Louis in the top eight). Oh well, what can you do?
Even without our beloved Stars in the post-season, tonight is still a great night to turn on the tele and watch some compelling action. The beginning of the greatest playoffs in sports begins tonight with four games to kick off the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
So it’s naturally time to post some playoff predictions. Here are mine:
In the East, the two series that catch my eye are New Jersey vs. Carolina and Pittsburgh vs. Philly. I really like the Hurricanes and the way they finished the season, and I want to pick them so bad to win this series. But I’ll take the Devils in seven. Pittsburgh has done a good job in climbing the ladder late in the season, but I’m taking the Flyers to win this one in six.
Boston should take care of the Habs in five games and I’ll take Ovechkin and the Caps to take out Avery’s Rangers in six games.
The West is tricky. I think there are at least four teams that are capable of making it to the Stanley Cup Finals (on paper) and they may beat each other up in the process. Obviously any of the eight teams can win the conference (see Edmonton in 2006).
San Jose, Detroit, Vancouver, Chicago and even Calgary all have the stuff needed to make a deep run. But then there’s St. Louis, a team that finished the season with a record of 25-8-7 over their last 40 games (tops in the league). You think the Canucks are happy to face them in round one?
San Jose vs. Anaheim is the first-ever playoff match-up between two teams in California. It’s about time. This will be good for the Golden State and should be fun to watch. Anytime you get two division foes in a playoff series, it is usually a tight series. Give me the Sharks in seven.
I am rooting for the Columbus Blue Jackets with every fiber of my being. It will be very exciting for the Jackets’ fans – seeing playoff hockey for the first time. As much as I want Columbus to win, give me Detroit in six.
Back to the Canucks-Blues series. Looking at St. Louis, the main reason they have been so good in the second half has been phenomenal goaltending. That alone will win you a playoff series. But I’ll take my chances with Roberto Luongo. Canucks in seven.
It is very good for the league to have the Chicago Blackhawks back in the playoffs. They will face a Flames team that looked to be a favorite on paper after the trade deadline. But Calgary did not finish the season strong and were beaten out for the division by the Canucks. Not many are predicting the Flames to go far in the playoffs and you can include me in that camp. Hawks in six.
For Conference Finals participants, I’ll take the Sharks to face off against the Canucks, with Vancouver winning the Campbell Bowl for the Western Conference. In the East, I like the Devils to face the Bruins, with Boston coming out on top.
The Stanley Cup will return to Canada for the first time since 1992, with Vancouver defeating Boston in seven games.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Enjoy the playoffs everyone – even without our Stars in the tournament.