NHL Play-offs 2009: Predictions for the Stanley Cup Finals 2009

Obviously I am two days late to this blog post, but I tweeted the essentials before game 1, so I think this should still count.

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And here are my three reasons for picking the Wings:

1. Goaltending
I actually think that Osgood, despite being 36, really grew this season and all his previous mistakes will no longer matter in his playing. He seems to be very calm and in good state of mind to stop any puck coming his way.

2. Defense
Offense wins games, defense wins championships. It’s a cliché proverb but when one team’s d shuts down the other teams offense, that’s more than half you need. I am surprised that Brad Stuart is only penciled in as #4, but in any case, Lidstrom, Kronwall, Rafalski, Stuart are as good as it gets and the 3rd pair, Ericsson and Lebda would easily be 3 and 4 on a lesser stacked team, not to forget mentor/teacher Chris Chelios on the bench. All the big winning teams of the past featured at least 3, often 4 world-class d-men. And in this years case, Crosby and Malkin have to step it up big time.

3. Experience
44 rings on the Wings vs. 5 on the Penguins. 5 Detroit players eyeing #5, meaning they were around for repeat #1 in 1998. Most likely, at least Maltby and Draper will have the Ray Bourque-like motivation, one last time before the journey ends. It means experience and previous big time goals on the 3rd and 4th line, something the Penguins don’t have. It means a great core of players that can assimilate newcomers onto message, buying into the goal.

Sure, everything John Buccigross wrote is true, but two super stars just cannot carry the Pens against this Detroit team in a seven game series. Not, when the opponent isn’t bad either.

Addendum: I was 2/4 on the second round and obviously forgot to write down the Conference Finals (but I would have been 2/2 there!). The first two games look good for Detroit but look for the Pens to put up a huge effort and win game 3 clearly. Or not and they can go play golf by the end of the week…

NHL Play-offs 2009: my predictions for round 2

Well, well, well. 1 round tips were ok. Not grand, but ok, I think. 5 of 8, 2 with the right score, 3 almost.Here is round 2:

Penguins – Capitals: 4-2
The games against the Rangers have shown a bit that the Caps need to fire on all cylinders to be effective. When one of their players was not up to 100% they had trouble converting. I think Pittsburgh has too much offensively. But defensively they hold the edge es well, so the road ends here for the Caps.

Hurricanes – Bruins: 3-4
Home ice advantage will win the series ultimately for the Bruins, their fans’ passion prove to be the deciding factor.

Ducks – Red Wings: 1-4
The Ducks overachieved to beat the Sharks. They should have been a better team during the regular season but weren’t. The Wings are better on defense and guys like Hossa, Zetterberg or Datsyuk haven’t even started yet.

Blackhawks – Canucks: 3-4
I haven’t seen anything of these two teams this year at all, so it is the hardest to call for me. I am guessing that the Canucks have the edge, getting healthy bodies back in the line-up, the (slightly) better goalie and the enigmatic play-off wild card Mats Sundin. He may just show up this once…

We’ll see. Watching on ESPN360 rocks, though I was asking myself whether the package on NHL.com might have been the better experience. Saw it too late though.

NHL Play-offs 2009: my predictions for round 1

In case you care: the following are the tipps I just entered in the eishockey.com online pool, for the 10th year in a row I think…

Ducks – Sharks: 2-4
A Scott Niedermeyer on a roll is not enough, the Sharks just have too much against it.

Blue Jackets – Red Wings: 0-4
Let’s call a spade a spade. Maybe this is wishful thinking on my part, but the Blue Jackets are first-timers and just not as good. Hard games, one-goal games. But still.

Blues – Canucks: 1-4
See above, but I think the Mason will steal one for the Blues. I am not a big Sundin fan but it will be Luongo carrying this team to the next round.

Flames – Blackhawks: 4-2
Upset, because the Bulin Wall won’t be enough. Maybe they go down 0-1 and 1-2, but in the end experience should persevere.

Canadiens – Bruins: 1-4
Just a feeling. No 5th gear the Habs can shift into.

Rangers – Capitals: 2-4
How I wish the Rangers would win this, but Gomez was never a superstar and Drury didn’t carry the teams on his own. He came through, but I think this is too hard. The dead line acquisitions, I don’t know. Maybe it does work. But the Caps are really strong, payed their dues last year and are destined for more.

Hurricanes – Devils: 2-4
Again, I wish Shanahan would get another shot, but he chose location over chances. Normally I don’t bet against Brodeur, but I think the long pause might have hurt his play.

Flyers – Penguins: 2-4
I see the problem in Philly’s goal and the strength in Pittsburgh’s middle. Defensively, both are no Red Wings defense.