Over the weekend, I posted the picks Cindy and I made for the first round of the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs. Now that all 8 matchups have at least played 2 games in their respective series, I thought I’d recap how well we’re doing with our teams and highlight a few surprises.
Surprise in the West
The Western Conference has perhaps the biggest surprise of this year’s playoffs so far, with the Ducks winning the first 2 games on the road in San Jose. Remember that the Sharks are not only the top team in the West, but they won the Presidents Cup trophy for the best record in the league during the regular season. They also managed only 5 regulation losses at home during the season, so how could they be down the first two games at the Shark Tank, to the Ducks no less, with the lowest season point total of all 16 teams in the post season? Everyone seems to be giving kudos to the young Anaheim netminder Jonas Hiller, but whatever the reason, the Sharks are in the precarious position of becoming the next victim of the Presidents Cup curse that bit the Red Wings in recent memory.
While both Cindy and I chose SJ to come out on top of ANA in round one, we’re not at all against the latest Duck, and most recent ex-Hawk, James Wisniewski advancing to the second round. Our hearts go out to Jeremy Roenick, a childhood idle of mine, as his post season hopes grow dim in the process. From a Hawks perspective, should we advance to the next round, we’d wanna see the Ducks advance over the Sharks anyway.
Rest of the West
The rest of the Western Conference seems about par with what we expected. Our hometown Hawks pulled off two HUGE wins at the UC, although the series turned more interesting after a loss in Calgary. One more game (Game 5) at the UC couldn’t hurt. :)
Detroit makes the trip down south to Columbus for game 3 tonight leading the series 2-0. Not the start that the Blue Jackets wanted for their franchise post season debut, but it is what it is. Vancouver also looks to be the first team to advance in this first round, and can do so with a W over the Blues tonight in St. Louis.
We’ve always been more focused on the Western Conference, but I’ll run down the East for completeness. Boston and Montreal have been slugging it out in the only Original Six matchup in Round One. Boston has not surprised anyone by jumping to a 3-0 series lead at the expense of the Canadiens’ young goaltender Carey Price. They shoot for the sweep tomorrow at the Forum.
We picked the Capitals in their race against the Rangers, who in turn had their own plans. Whether we like it or not, Sean Avery has been making an impact for NYR as well as playoff veteran Scott Gomez. The Caps lost both of their home games, but took one back from the Rangers last night to cut the series deficit in half. Pittsburgh has the advantage against Philly in the battle of Pennsylvania, which is probably the best first round rivalry (next to BOS and MON). We just wish we’d been able to see more of those games thus far.
Wrapping up the Eastern Conference is the one series that Cindy and I didn’t agree on, the Devils and the Hurricanes. So far, Cindy’s Devils are up 2 games to 1 over my Canes, but there’s plenty of hockey left in this one. Of all the matchups, I think this one has the best chance of going to a game 7. Although, if Carolina doesn’t even the series tonight, I think they’re in a heap of trouble.
5 Games Tonight
While our Hawks regroup in Calgary for Game 4 tomorrow, there are 5 other games tonight. Only the Canucks have a chance to sweep tonight, but both San Jose and Columbus are in virtual must-win situations if they want to keep their post season hopes alive. It should be a great night of hockey, and will be interesting to see where everyone stands this time tomorrow.
Enjoy the games tonight, and GO HAWKS!!!