Stanley Cup 2013, II: Thoughts on the First Round, Guesses for the Second

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I missed the last day of the first round because I was having a night to remember with Sara Bareilles.  I regret nothing of course, but damn, how I wish I could have seen those last five minutes of that Leafs/Bruins series while I was waiting for the show to start.  It’s weird to say, but I was actually kinda pulling for the Leafs.  Still, with the Bruins’ win, my team prognostications for the playoffs have finished the first round with an astounding 62.5% accuracy!  Wow, so high!

predictions2Of the five series I got right, I got three of them extremely right, calling the number of games and all.  However, of the other three I got wrong, I got them very wrong.  Hoo boy, my conference finals could look better.  (1 seeds all the way!)  All in all, my predictions put me in the 64th percentile on NHL.com and in 51585th place!  Making my way up!  Let’s recap:

Blackhawks vs. Wild:  Blackhawks win.  Obviously.  I was in Chicago during Games 3 and 4 so I was right in the center of the storm, even though the games were in Minnesota.  Chicago really is a hockey town.  At the hotel bar during Game 4, it was every TV showing the Hawks and it was awesome.  A lot more about my time in Chicago is coming in a post later.  I’ve got a lot to write about in the next few days.

Ducks vs. Red Wings:  I picked the Red Wings to win in a long series, but I was rooting for the Ducks the whole time.  Oh well, at least the Wings/Hawks series should be great to watch.

Canucks vs. Sharks:  Poor Canucks.  I said the series could go either way and I did mention San Jose could dominate, but I never wanted that to happen.  It’s the end of an era in Vancouver, and big changes are coming this summer.

Blues vs. Kings:  After game two, I tweeted this: “My gut is looking pretty good right now. #Blues #Kings”  Well… it was looking good, but like I said, it was a dumb pick.  Still, this was easily the most entertaining and fun series to watch in the first round.  Despite their “collapse,” the Blues are still an incredibly strong team and their future remains bright.

Penguins vs. Islanders:  The Penguins won, but not in the way many picked.  The Islanders fought hard, exposing Marc-Andre Fleury as swiss cheese in the playoffs once again and nearly took the series to seven.  It was a lot more fun than I imagined it would have been and major kudos to the Isles for that.  It’s hard to say if this year was a fluke, but the future might also be quite bright on Long Island.

Canadiens vs. Sénateurs:  To Montreal/Ottawa.  I missed a lot of this series.  I hear there was some bloodshed and lost teeth and line brawls.  Also an epic Montreal collapse.  The all-Canadian series don’t get a lot of love here in the states, but from what I’ve read this one may have just created a bitter rivalry in the new “Northeast” division.

Capitals vs. Rangers:  As far as New York/Washington goes, I didn’t really care.  Washington got trounced in Game 7 and they’re now out playing golf as I predicted.  Perhaps this is the Rangers finding their form and getting set to go on a long run.

Bruins vs. Maple Leafs:  Finally, Leafs/Bruins.  I don’t know why I picked this one to go to seven, but here we are.  I still can’t believe what happened last night as I was frantically checking my dying phone for updates.  Twitter exploded and it was amazing.  I still hate the Bruins though, and I really wish they could have lost.  Would have been sweet justice after the lockout.

Overall, a very fun very tight first round.  Holy overtime, Batman.  17 games is an NHL record, and I don’t believe any games made it to 2OT or beyond.

So, that brings me to another round of predictions, this one not quite based on my bracket due since I only got one of the second-round series correct.  Let’s take a spin of the wheel, shall we?

Chicago Blackhawks  Detroit Red Wings

1. Chicago Blackhawks vs 7. Detroit Red Wings:  The Hawks’ quest to knock out the West’s lowest seeds continues.  I’ve got Chicago winning the Cup and as long as they’re in, that will be my pick.  Detroit showed in the last round that they are just not the same playoff powerhouse that dominated the last decade and thus I think this series will be short.  Chicago is rested and I doubt they have any rust from their time off.  I see them going to six at most, but I say Hawks in five.

Los Angeles Kings  San Jose Sharks

5. Los Angeles Kings vs 6. San Jose Sharks:  The defending champs obviously moved on, and here they now face the other standing team from California.  I predicted all of the Golden State’s teams to fail, and I went 1 for 3!… That’s not good.  As usual, I decided I don’t want the defending champions to have the chance at a repeat, and since I do live a half-hour from San Jose, I will be rooting for the Sharks.  They’ve had a bit of time off since making quick (eh? eh? anyone?) work of the Canucks and I think they’re just rounding into playoff form now.  Their window is closing and I think they’ll make the most of it.  That’s what I want.  My prediction?  Kings in six.  Sorry Sharks, but I just don’t see the dominance of the Kings stopping any time soon.  Ideally, though, Sharks in seven for the entertainment value.

Pittsburgh Penguins  Ottawa Senators

1. Pittsburgh Penguins vs 7. Ottawa Senators:  Oh look, another 1/7 series!  Those pesky Sens surprised the Canadiens and the Penguins nearly went the distance with the Islanders.  The Penguins should be scared and even before the series begins, I feel that the Senators have momentum.  It is hard to deny the abundance of talent on Pittsburgh though, and with their goaltending problems solved with Tomas Vokoun (?), I’ve got them coming out of this series.  Penguins in six is the safe bet to me, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this was an upset.  Ottawa is a healthy team again (cue Spezza laugh) and their offense is kicking it, but I just can’t find it in myself to commit to them.  Sorry Sens.  And holy crap, watch Matt Cooke score the series winning goal.  That would be hilarious.

Boston Bruins  New York Rangers

4. Boston Bruins vs 6. New York Rangers:  Oh boy, I have no idea how this will go.  The Bruins nearly collapsed to the Leafs.  The Leafs!  The Rangers came out on top of a Capitals team that dominated the last weeks of the regular season, though as was shown this morning on Puck Daddy, had just 10 wins against playoff teams in their last 28 games.  Yikes.  So, for this one I’m just going to go with what I want.  Which is actually what I don’t want least and that would be the Rangers advancing in, let’s say, four.  Bold I know.  Why not, eh?

And that brings me to my updated and ever-living homemade playoff bracket.  I received a few suggestions from the last one I posted and got some new ideas from elsewhere.  Check out my new completed first-round playoff bracket, all set for round two!

Playoffs 2013 - Round 2Here’s to an entertaining second round.  As always it will be hard to top the opening round, but who knows what will happen.  Anything is possible!

…I might even stop saying that, too.

(Late edit: I just remembered that I also made new team logo blocks to replace those seen above and in the bracket.  I might use them in my next bracket… or maybe I’ll wait until next year.)

(Late late edit: If you’re reading this after May 29th, all of the logo blocks have been updated.  Hooray, revisionist history!)

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