NHL Playoff time. I remember I did a podcast a couple of years back picking games. Blogging is easier so I’ll try that this year. Plus allowed me to have a guest pick against me. I will be facing off against Natalie Thomas from The Weather Network. Natalie also has been part of Guelph Storm home games for the last 2 seasons. As the host in the arena who gives out prizes and such.
Also on the sports side she’s played more competitive sports than I have, and most likely 98% of people reading this. You ever play college basketball in the U.S.? Probably not. From her newly redesigned website. [I’m getting around to a touch up of the blog here eventually.]
In her last year of high school, Natalie received a full scholarship to play basketball at Appalachian State University. It’s an NCAA Division 1 school in Boone, North Carolina. Natalie spent her four years playing basketball and studying Broadcasting in the Communications Department.
“It’s really hard to describe playing college ball. Unless you’ve done it, you can’t imagine how awful and awesome it can be at the same time. I loved my teammates, and still love them to this day. And the whole experience definitely makes you a stronger person. But no part of me would want to relive the workouts!”
Natalie says the conditioning, weight lifting and practices could be a nightmare. “The pre-season and post-season workouts were the worst! One day, when one of our teammates missed class so the whole team had an hour ab workout as punishment. Half way through we were all crying. The girls still remember that as being our worst day!”
Once in college I ran out of snacks during a football game and had to run to the store….. I was a bit winded. I pulled through with my own grit and determination. 🙂
Onto the picks, hockey is the hardest sport to pick playoff winners. You will see the example of President’s Trophy winners later in the post. If you are 1st overall, you would think those teams must get far in the playoffs. Not so much for the most part lately.
I will first put Natalie’s picks, then I will ramble on about mine. Quiet night at work so I had some time on my hands.
(1) Washington Capitals vs. (8) New York Rangers
Natalie picks the Capitals.
Last year President’s Trophy winners the Capitals are 1st in Eastern Conference again. How did last year’s 1st overall team do? Eliminated in Round 1 by Montreal. Another 1st place seed in the East against a team with a goalie who could steal some games. Uh oh, deja vu. Rangers in 7.
(2) Philadelphia Flyers vs. (7) Buffalo Sabres
Natalie is going with the Sabres.
Flyers after appearing in the Cup finals a Number 2 seed and could have a long run like 2010. After coming back from 3-0 against Boston they are a stubborn group. Flyers in 6.
(3) Boston Bruins vs. (6) Montreal Canadiens
Natalie and I agree on the Bruins.
Boston-Montreal XXXIII, ‘The Search for More Money’. Rivalry that’s always big. Money and ratings talk. It’s already pushed the French TV Debate to another night. In New England Red Sox games are being moved to the secondary cable station. Wow, that’s saying a lot. Meanwhile in New York City a meaningless Knicks game is on MSG and Rangers playoff game is on MSG Plus. Shows how popular the Bruins/Habs matchup is compared to other cities.
Talked to a Habs fan about this series for about 5 minutes. Chara’s hit didn’t come up once, that’s how deep the history is. Sure some people think it adds something to the series. I don’t. Last time Montreal beat Boston in Round 1 a few years ago they rioted which made CNN. After a Round 1 win! That a series that needed help to get eyeballs? Is there anyone at home who was not going to watch Boston/Montreal but the Chara hit is going to make them watch? No.
Bruins in 7.
(4) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. (5) Tampa Bay Lightning
Natalie picks the Penguins.
Now this series could’ve used something to pump it up. 2 franchises who have never played each other in the playoffs. Now if Crosby/Malkin were playing interest would be higher, they’re both out. Amazing the Penguins are a 4 seed with Crosby missing in action and Malkin’s injury problems early and late in the year. Though I think this long year will catch up to them. Tampa is healthier and haven’t had such a grinding season. Getting a win over a recent Cup champion is something I’m sure Tampa would like to have, even against a depleted Penguins team. Lightning in 6.
Move to the Western Conference.
(1) Vancouver Canucks vs. (8) Chicago Blackhawks
Natalie picks the Blackhawks, same as me.
Ah yes, this year’s 1st place team, the Canucks. You might think “well the Caps thing was a fluke with being 1st overall” last season. Wrong, that’s the norm for President Trophy’s winners since the lockout.
2006 had Detroit facing the 8th seed from Edmonton. That was the Oilers amazing run to the Finals. Red Wings out in Round 1. Nice seeing you, bye-bye.
2007 Buffalo Sabres had better luck than most of the Trophy winners. Advanced to the Conference Finals. However Ottawa knocked them out.
2008 version of Detroit avenged their earlier mistake and handled their business with advancing to the Finals and winning the Cup. Only team since the lockout to do so.
2009 San Jose Sharks, out in Round 1 against Anaheim. Aforementioned Caps out in Round 1 last year against Montreal. So 3 out of the 5 teams that claimed the President’s Trophy couldn’t get to Round 2. Crazy.
Add to that the fact that Canucks were knocked out by Chicago the last 2 seasons. Who you think I’m going to pick? Chicago in 6.
Some teams just have another one’s number. Need I mention the Leafs/Sens playoff encounters. Ottawa could never beat them. Heck, I lived in Ottawa during 2 of those series. I went for the Leafs by the way each time. Senators were too vanilla for my liking. And when push came to shove they didn’t show up.
(2) San Jose Sharks vs. (7) LA Kings
Natalie predicts a win from the Sharks.
2 California teams so I can’t come up with much for this. Neither team has travel concerns for once in a playoff series. Not even leaving the state let alone their own time zone. Kings in 7.
(3) Detroit Red Wings vs. (6) Phoenix Coyotes
Natalie picks the Red Wings, we agree.
Coyotes in the playoffs again even with all the crazy behind the scenes stuff going on. In a market no one cares about. And Toronto misses the post-season. Phoenix getting there is a good story but they can’t beat Detroit. Red Wings in 5.
(4) Anaheim Ducks vs. (5) Nashville Predators
Natalie picks the Ducks.
4 vs 5 are never fun to pick. 5 seed winning is not an upset especially in this case. Ducks, Predators and Coyotes all had 99 points. 4th to 8th place separated by 2 points out West. So betting on the lower seeds might be the smart thing to do. Two teams with 99 points, I flipped a coin and went with Nashville in 6.
Natalie’s usually anchoring on the weekends, but to keep up to date you can check out her on Twitter and Facebook. She can be doing other shifts during the week as well. We both work holidays on long weekends. Probably the few people who are at work at 5am on a long weekend Monday. Some of us have to do it. 😉
U2 reference in the title is since we’re both big U2 fans. If I had more time I could’ve come up with a song title for each series. Bruins/Habs ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’ is almost too easy isn’t it?