The NHL playoffs start tonight and as usual, I will try to predict the outcome of each matchup. Last year, I had 12 good predictions out of 15 (80%) and it was easily my best year so far. I'll try to be as good this year!
In the east, the Boston Bruins will square off against the Detroit Red Wings. The B's will prevail in this one, but it might be closer than expected for the President's trophy winner. The Red Wings have many key injuries but they always have surprise players to pick up the available ice time. When all is said and done, the Bruins physicality and depth will have made the difference.
Tampa Bay will have to face the most glorious franchises of them all, the Montreal Canadiens. Everybody seem to think that Ben Bishop is a huge lost since Anders Lindback is raw. I believe that Lindback won't be an issue: he's had a very hot last regular season week and also had good numbers last year when he had more regular starts. However, I believe that the Canadiens will win this one. Carey Price will steal one or two games and the very young Lightning players will have too much pressure to retaliate.
The Pittsburgh Penguins will face a relative unknown of the playoffs, the Columbus Blue Jackets. Marc-Andre Fleury will have a ton of pressure after his big struggle in last year's playoffs. The Blue Jackets will work hard in this one but they don't have the firepower to win a 7 game series. It will be longer than expected, but the superstars packed Penguins will advance.
In a much anticipated matchup, the New York Rangers will have to face the Philadelphia Flyers. That's the series I will match the most closely in the east this year. Both teams have forces and weaknesses and are pretty much equally matched. They also both have playoff like players. Even if the Rangers have the home-ice advantage, I think that the Flyers will win one game at the Madison Square Garden and take the momentum. The Flyers should win this one.
In the west, the Avalanche took the opportunity that they had to finish first in their division and face the much more available Minnesota Wild. However, that won't be an easy task. The Wild have key elements (Parise, Koivu, Suter, Granlund and so on) that will make things difficult for the Avs. I like the forward depth of Colorado and they should not have a problem in net. I'll take the Avalanche to win this one, but that will be a long series.
The fact that the St-Louis Blues and the Chicago Blackhawks meet in the first round is a testament about the parity that exist in this league. Both teams are amongst the favorites to win the Stanley Cup yet only one will go to the next round. The Blues had a pretty rough end of the regular season, to say the least. The Blackhawks had very good success in the last couple of years and they should be able to come on top. Once again, I think it will be a good and long series and the winner of this one will be tired for the second round.
It's good to see the Dallas Stars back in the playoff picture. However, they will have to face a very good team in the Anaheim Ducks. The Ducks have a lot of key players and their dynamic duo of Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf could make a huge difference. Even if Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin can be equally good, the depth of the Anaheim Ducks will be the major difference.
In an all Californian matchup, the Los Angeles Kings will face the San Jose Sharks. I repeat myself each and every year but I believe that the Los Angeles Kings have a playoff based team. Their players thrive under these circumstances. The Sharks on the other end always have good team but disappoint more often than not. Even if San Jose has the home-ice advantage, my pick goes to the Los Angeles.
Boston vs Detroit
Tampa Bay vs Montreal
Pittsburgh vs Columbus
New York vs Philadelphia
Colorado vs Minnesota
St-Louis vs Chicago
Anaheim vs Dallas
San Jose vs Los Angeles
Un exemple de surcouche législative et étatique est survenu dans les derniers jours au Québec.
Pour mettre en contexte, la Régie des alcools, des courses et des jeux légifère sur les concours se déroulant en sol québécois depuis 1978. Cette loi, dans un contexte de mondialisation de plus en plus poussée, prive de nombreux Québécois de concours pouvant survenir à une plus grande échelle que celle de notre État.
National Geographic a organisé un concours mondial de photos et le Québec en est exclu en raison des règles superflues que le Québec impose à tout organisateur d'un concours. À la base, cette loi visait à protéger les participants pour qu'ils soient assurés d'obtenir le prix publicisé, mais dans les faits, plusieurs organisateurs excluent tout simplement le Québec afin de ne pas devoir accumuler une paperasse administrative inutile.
Le plus troublant, c'est la réaction de la porte-parole de la Régie des alcools, des courses et des jeux:
«Ce concours n'était pas soumis à nos règles. Malheureusement, ils ont décidé d'exclure le Québec sans vérifier les faits parce qu'ils avaient peur de devoir payer. [...] C'est un peu triste. Mais c'est National Geographic qui en a décidé ainsi, parce qu'ils n'auraient rien eu à payer.»
À mon avis, ce qui est triste, c'est que le Québec soit associé à des listes d'exclusion comme l'est Cuba, l'Iran et la Corée du Nord. Évidemment, comme le Québec est meilleur que les autres provinces canadiennes, elle est la seule à avoir de telles règles surprotectrices et empêche, par extension, des millions de Québécois de pouvoir participer à des concours intéressants.
L'attitude de la Régie des alcools, des courses et des jeux est aussi répréhensible. Au lieu de voir le tout comme un problème, on accuse les organisateurs d'avoir peur de nos règles superflues. Il faut comprendre que même si c'était simple pour les organisateurs d'inclure le Québec, nous ne sommes qu'une petite partie du monde. Le simple fait d'avoir une loi qui régit tous les concours fait en sorte que la perception laissée aux organisateurs est qu'au Québec, c'est compliqué.
Comme le dit le proverbe, pourquoi faire simple quand on peut faire compliqué ? Ça semble être la devise de notre gouvernement hautement étatique du Québec.
I correctly predicted the two winners of the conference finals so my stats are now at 12 good predictions out of 14 rounds (85,71%). That will easily be my best score since I started to make predictions of the NHL playoffs.
For the Stanley Cup finals, I must go with the Boston Bruins. They proved in the earlier rounds that nobody can match their physicality, two-way play and goaltending prowess. The Maple Leafs gave them quite a ride but the Bruins got better and better afterwards. A sweep of the Pittsburgh Penguins is no easy feat and they did it almost without a sweat. I also like the Chicago Blackhawks and that original six matchup will be a joy to watch. However, the Hawks do have holes in their play and they will be exposed against a well coached Claude Julien's team. My final choice goes with the bears in six.
Chicago vs Boston
With 4 good predictions out of 4 in the second round, I now sit at a good 83,33% ratio. The West and East finals will be epic. They involve the last 4 Stanley Cup champions.
In the East, the Pittsburgh Penguins are obviously where they belong. They have an outstanding hockey club with an even more impressive firepower upfront. On the other side of the spectrum, you have a well balanced Boston Bruins team that roll 4 lines night in and night out. I think that the Penguins are the favorites but my choice is with the Bruins. I like their physical play, they have players that know their roles and they have the better goaltender in my mind.
In the West, I'm torn between the well oiled LA Kings and the good defensive team that are the Chicago Blackhawks. Mike Richards, Dustin Brown and Drew Doughty are real warriors for the Kings. However, I believe that the Blackhawks will use their home-ice advantage quite well and win in 7.
Pittsburgh vs Boston
Chicago vs Los Angeles
It's time for my 2nd round predictions. In the 1st round, I had 6 good predictions out of 8 (75%). It's the exact same result as last year. I'm on pace to beat the 50% mark, but it's obviously not done.
The 2nd round is tougher to predict. You have to look at the surprises, the number of matches each team played to come trough, the injuries and how each team played in their first matchup. I'll do my best, as always!
In the East, we have David vs Goliath in it's purest form. The Pittsburgh Penguins should easily beat the Ottawa Senators. However, the Sens surprised everyone this year and were able to beat the number two seed in the East. Craig Anderson did miracles against Montreal. On the other end, Pittsburgh had all the difficulties in the world to beat a young New York Islanders squad. Tomas Vokoun stabilised the situation in net when Marc-André Fleury was clearly not in his zone for the start of the series. The Cinderella story behind the Sens will end in this round but it will probably be longer than expected.
We have the chance to have two Original-6 matchups in the 2nd round this year. Both the Boston Bruins and New York Rangers played 7 games in the first round. However, the Rangers victory was a lot more surprising than the Bruins one. I think that the Bruins will face a much better defensive core and goaltender this time around. Even if it will be tougher for the Bruins, they do have a playoff type of team and their late comeback against the Leafs will give them the momentum to take the lead in the first match and never look back after that.
In the West, the Chicago Blackhawks will square off against the Detroit Red Wings. The Hawks are more rested than the Wings. It might bite them tought, since the Wings had to play very well to beat the Ducks while the Blackhawks had it relatively easy. I believe the Red Wings could win the first match but the Blackhawks will come back in the series and win it. Jonathan Toews must provide more offense for it to happen however.
Finally in an all Californian matchup, the Los Angeles King will meet the San Jose Sharks. Even if the Kings are the number 5 seed, they will have home-ice advantage since three surprises came off the West this year. That might be the difference in the end. I love the Kings dynamic and overall toughness. The Sharks are well rested but as always, they might disappoint.
Pittsburgh vs Ottawa
Boston vs New York Rangers
Chicago vs Detroit
Los Angeles vs San Jose