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2011 NHL Playoffs – Round 1 – Official

So, last week’s hockey post nailed a lot of the final playoff’s teams.  Just not all of them.   The official 2011 Playoff Teams were finally decided with a lucky last chance addition of the Blackhawks.  Below is the schedule for the first round games, which will take place April 13th27th.

Eastern Conference Quarter Final Matchups

#1 Washington Capitals vs #8 New York Rangers

#2 Philadelphia Flyers vs #7 Buffalo Sabres

#3 Boston Bruins vs #6 Montreal Canadiens

#4 Pittsburgh Penguins vs #5 Tampa Bay Lightning

Western Conference Quarter Final Matchups

#1 Vancouver Canucks vs #8 Chicago Blackhawks

#2 San Jose Sharks vs #7 Los Angeles Kings

#3 Detroit Red Wings vs Phoenix Coyotes

#4 Anaheim Ducks vs #5  Nashville Predators

 

In the Eastern Conference, ESPN thinks that the Capitals are holding court.  Alex Ovechkin and Alexander Semin are the key players for the team.  Not surprisingly, however, while the Caps are sitting pretty, they should fear the Rangers, as they’ve beaten them three times already this season.   Goalie Henrik Lundqvist is the glue and glitter of the team.  Watch out for him.  All in all though, it is expected for the D.C. Capitals to win.

The Flyers are a formidable team with seven 20-goal scorers.  Poor Tyler Myers from the Flyers is going to have to use his large frame to block a lot of shots coming their way.

This is Boston’s first appearance at the conference final since the 91-92 season when they lost the game to the Penguins.  Tim Thomas has been the absolute shining star on the time with his regular season save percentage (.938) and his 35-11-9 record.  Nice job, Thomas!

While the outlook seemed bleak for the Penguins, due to the injuries of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Jordan Stall, Marc Andre Fleury has held the team together admirably and hopefully will continue to do so.  There is still a chance (looking slim though) that Crosby will show up for the playoffs.

The Blackhawks made the playoffs on a hope and prayer.  Jonathan Toews is one of the few survivors from last year’s championship team.  Pretty much the only hope the Blackhawks have to advance is if the Canucks make a lot of mistakes, which has been known to happen.

Joe Thornton is what stands between the Sharks and a championship.  He plays awesome regular season, but once it gets to the playoffs, he flakes out.  If he can get it together, perhaps they have a chance.  Here’s hoping!

Ah, Detroit, so nice to see you in the Playoffs again!  Nick Lidstrom leads his Red Wings in another championship attempt.  There’s no reason to discount this team.  Even the Coyotes 20 goal scorer Shane Doan, shouldn’t shake the Red Wings too much.

The Mighty Ducks!  Everyone seems to discount this team for whatever reason.  Seven guys on the team have Stanley Cup Rings,  reigning Richard trophy winner is on the team and there are two 30 goal scorers.  Corey Perry has 50 goals.

This is going to be an exciting first round of playoffs!

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NHL Playoffs Predictions

HockeyPlayoff season is in the air for NBA, NCAA and NHL.  Today, let’s just focus on hockey.

It’s been a long tiring 82 game regular season for the 16 teams who are playoff bound.  One team will have a 16 game winning streak and bring home the coveted Stanley Cup.

Let’s take a peek at the teams, shall we?

In the Eastern Conference the following teams are nearly surely to be playoff bound:

 Pittsburgh Penguins - The perpetually popular Penguins (say that 3 times fast!) had a bit of a rought start with the losses of top forwards Evgeni Malkin  and youngin’ Sidney Crosby, but remained in the top three seed.  They’re scrappy.

Washington Capitals – Their skill at keeping the goal tended is awesome.

Philadelphia Flyers – The Flyers are powerhouses on the ice due to their impenetrable offense and quick defense and stellar special teams.  They are a force to be reckoned with.

Tampa Bay Lightning – The Lightening’s offense this year has been rock solid and led by Martin St. Louis and emerging titan of the ice, Steven Stamkos

Boston Bruins – Boston is quite the little sports town this year with the Celtics being playoff bound, the Red Sox reigning at the top of the MLB world and now the Bruins.  After losing Marc Savard due to multiple concussions, they have become dependent on likely Vezina Tropy Winner Tim Thomas (goalie).  Their defense is what makes this team formidable.

On the Western Conference, the following teams look likely to head to the playoffs:

Detroit Redwings – Henrik Zetterberg, Nicklas Lidstron and Daniel Cleary have aided this season team through tough injuries on the core of the team.  The Goal is to get Pavel Datrsyuk back to 100% health before the playoff season starts.

Vancouver Canucks – Come on, they’re Canadian! Hockey is in their blood!  The Canucks have been reigning supreme this entire season.    They also have powerful twins playing, Daniel and Henrick Sedin.  It is highly likely that Daniel will lead the NHL in points for the2010-11 season while his brother will take the title for most assists in the league.  Their parents must be so proud!

San Jose Sharks – Two words.  “Anti” and “Niemi”.  Goalie of the century.  Well, maybe not, but he’s pretty amazing.  The Sharks have the 7th highest goals scored in the NHL thanks to Joe Thornton.

Phoenix Coyotes – The Coyotes?  Who would have thought?  Goalie Illya Bryzgalov is the glue of this team and Shane Doan is the rock.  Doan has logged more the 1100 for the team.

Los Angeles Kings – The Postseason looks a little scary for the Kings since power forward Anze Kopitar broke his ankle against the Avalanche recently  and will sit out the entire postseason.  Ouch.  Hopefully Jonathan Quick can fill Kiopitar’s shoes quickly.

Noticeably absent from these lists are the Chicago Blackhawks who are defending their Stanley Cup Championship from last year.  Perhaps the owners shouldn’t have traded away nearly all of the winning team what seems like minutes after they won? Thank goodness top-tier offense in Patrick Kane and  Jonathan Toews are still kicking around, but this team is vastly different from the winning team last year.

Time will tell which of these teams takes home the cup!

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