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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs - Conference Quarterfinals

Once again, I'll offer predictions for the Stanley Cup playoffs, the finest professional sports postseason there is. The usual caveat -- other than the Flyers, my fountain of knowledge of teams is limited at best, so if you're looking for "expert" analysis you won't find much here. And as I'm writing this two or three of the series-opening games have already started, but I only know one partial score and it's not affecting my pick for that series. I've been watching the Phillies anyway, since the Flyers don't begin until tomorrow night.

By the way, did you know that there are three teams based in California in the playoffs, but only two from our hockey-crazed neighbors to the north? Woe, Canada...


(1) Washington Capitals vs. (8) New York Rangers - The Rangers made a late run, then kind of backed into the playoffs at the end. Capitals in 5.
(2) Philadelphia Flyers vs. (7) Buffalo Sabres - see below. Yes, I'm being a tease again.
(3) Boston Bruins vs. (6) Montreal Canadiens - This should be a war. Bruins in 7.
(4) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. (5) Tampa Bay Lightning - Penguins in 6, although it worries me that they're still playing without Sidney Crosby.


(1) Vancouver Canucks vs. (8) Chicago Blackhawks - This should be great even though the defending Cup champs backed in (even moreso than did the Rangers) on the last day of the season. Canucks in 7.
(2) San Jose Sharks vs. (7) Los Angeles Kings - Thanks to some of their employees (on- and off-ice) who used to work here, the Kings are kind of like Flyers West, so I wouldn't be sad to see them make a run, but they have some injury issues (just like Flyers East often has!) and the Sharks are better anyway. Sharks in 6.
(3) Detroit Red Wings vs. (6) Phoenix Coyotes - Please, dear (insert your preferred deity/deities here), get that team out of Phoenix once and for all, please? Red Wings in 5.
(4) Anaheim Ducks vs. (5) Nashville Predators - I can honestly say I know very little about either of these teams. However, I read that Flyers color analyst/Versus studio cohost Keith Jones says the Predators are going to be in the Stanley Cup finals, and that just seems ludicrous, so...Ducks in 6.

And now, the moment you've been waiting for...my Flyers-Sabres pick!

The Sabres got off to a bad start and made a serious second-half run to get into the playoffs. The Flyers stumbled down the stretch, coughing up the overall East lead and nearly throwing away the division title. Between the Chris Pronger injury (he's reportedly doubtful for Game 1) and lackadaisical play the last few weeks, I think this is the big first-round upset this year. The Flyers are relying on last year's experience, but I don't think teams can turn it on that easily. I hate to say it, but...Sabres in 6.

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