NHL: The Playoffs

Here are your matchups!


(1) New York Rangers vs. (8) Ottawa Senators

The Rangers are an obvious favourite here but I wouldn’t say this is a gimme. Weak offensive teams don’t have a long history of playoff success, and Ottawa did play well against New York this year. So I’ll pick the Rangers, but there’s upset potential here.

(2) Boston Bruins vs. (7) Washington Capitals

Conversely, I think Boston’s going to rip Washington apart. Even if Alex Ovechkin is hot I really don’t think the Caps have the blueline and goaltending ability to win a series against the Bruins.

(3) Florida Panthers vs. (6) New Jersey Devils

Florida went 38-44, and Washington went 42-40, but Florida is the division champion. God, the consolation point is stupid. Anyway, Florida is really a pretty bad team and are lucky to be in the playoffs, and I fully expect the Devils to wipe the floor with them.

(4) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. (5) Philadelphia Flyers

Oh my God, this is going to be a fantastic series. They hate each other. They’re both really good teams. You’ve got a great mix of styles, speed and skill versus strength and dirty play. They say the first round is often the best, and this is the series that will demonstrate it. I’ll take the Penguins, but I’ll be watching just for the fun of it.

(1) Vancouver Canucks vs. (8) Los Angeles Kings

On the radio today the talking heads were saying this is a potential upset because the Kings have great defence. That’s actually quite true, they do, but the problem is they’re also the second-worst offense in the entire NHL - that’s including the teams that DIDN’T make the playoffs, too. Even if you hold the other team to one goal you still lose if you score zero. Pick: Vancouver.

Oh, and I have to complain again; LA went 40-42. Dallas, playing in the same division, went 42-40 and isn’t in the playoffs. That’s a goddamned joke.

(2) St. Louis Blues vs. (7) San Jose Sharks

Like the Rangers, I’m skeptical of the Blues in that poor-scoring teams, even when they do well in the regular season, rarely sip from the Cup. So I don’t expect St. Louis to go all the way. That said, I don’t expect this to be the round where I’m proven right, if for no other reason than they’re up against Joe “Captain November” Thornton and the Sharks, whose postseason record ain’t dripping with glory. Pickin’ the Blues, but be worried if they lose a home game. They lost only 6 games at home in regulation time ALL YEAR, so winning at home is their thing.

(3) Phoenix Coyotes vs. (6) Chicago Blackhawks

Another weak 3-seed, but the Blackhawks have had a pretty inconsistent season, too. Honestly I don’t know who to pick here but the Blackhawks have the most success in general recently so I guess I’ll go with them.

(4) Nashville Predators vs. (5) Detroit Red Wings

Isn’t this like the fiftieth time these two teams have met in the playoffs? It’ll be a good matchup. Detroit, like St. Louis, is nearly unbeatable at home but was very weak on the road, so Nashville needs to hold serve; the old truism that you’re not in trouble until you lose on home ice is VERY true in this series. Like a lot of people, I admire the plucky, wonderfully coached and managed Predators and I kind of want them to succeed, but my brain says to pick the Red Wings.

In the first round I am looking forward to both of the 4 vs 5 match ups. I hope both LA and San Jose choke on it.

Eastern Conference:

New York Rangers vs. Ottawa Senators: The Rangers have surprised the crap out of me so far this year. Why not pick 'em again? Rangers in five.

Boston Bruins vs. Washington Capitals: The Caps made the playoffs?!? :eek: I’m not sure Boston will go all the way this year, but I can’t see them stumbling against the Caps. Ovie’s gonna have a hissy fit at the end of this year. Bruins in four.

Florida Panthers vs. New Jersey Devils: Speaking of teams I can’t believe made the playoffs. I’m not sure that Panthers fans remember that the playoffs exist. They’ve heard rumors, but… At any rate, they’ll get a couple more games to watch, but not much more. Devils in six.

Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Philadelphia Flyers: As George Takei would say, oh my. After the regular season series that these two teams have had, could this series live up to the hype? A better question will be if Sidney Crosby can survive. Even if he doesn’t, it’s hard to imagine the incredibly dirty Flyers cleaning up their act and playing smart hockey for enough games to win. Pens in five, even if they lose Crosby.

Western Conference:

Vancouver Canucks vs. LA Kings: I’m just gonna pick the Kings for shits and/or giggles. It could also be the lack of sleep. Kings in six.

St. Louis Blues vs. San Jose Sharks: I am thrilled to see Ken Hitchcock returning to the NHL in triumph. Wait. “Thrilled” can’t be put anywhere near a Ken Hitchcock coached hockey team. Allow me to rephrase. I am bored to see Ken Hitchcock returning to the NHL in triumph. I don’t think they’ll make it to the cup, but I think they’ll beat the Sharks. Blues in seven.

Phoenix Coyotes vs. Chicago Blackhawks: It’s simply playoff tradition that the Coyotes go out in the first round. Who am I to stand against it. Blackhawks in five.

Nashville Predators vs. Detroit Red Wings: Feels rather odd to have the Wings starting on the road for the playoffs. As much as I am a Wings fan, I don’t like the hockey they’ve been playing for the last month or so. Injuries be damned. Their playing style has become flat and predictable. Opposing teams are reading their power play (Homer in front. Nobody moves. Shot comes from the blue line) like a book. The Wings are great at home but crap on the road. Bad time to be in the #5 spot. **Preds in five. **

Don’t know enough about hockey teams these days to make any particular picks, but I do share RickJay’s disdain for awarding extra points for losing.

Speaking of fairness, I also wonder about the system for seedings. In the E. conference this year, the best teams (according to point totals, anyway) are all in the same division. Instead of being seeded 1-4 or 1-3 and 5, though (Boston and the Devils are tied in points), they’re seeded 1 (NYR), 4 (Penguins), 5 (Flyers), 6 (NJ). That’s because division winners get 1-2-3 regardless of their record, right?

What that means this year is that the #5-seeded Flyers have to play the #4-seeded Penguins (who had 5 points more than the Flyers during the regular season, along with having the second best point total in the conference, 4th best in the league). That’s reasonable. Meanwhile, the #6-seeded Devils get to play the #3 seeded Panthers (who have 8 points fewer than the Devils, ranking them sixth in the conference and FOURTEENTH in the league). That’s NOT reasonable.

So it seems that finishing fourth in the division (and thereby being seeded sixth) is way preferable to finishing third (and thereby being seeded fifth). Out of curiosity, did the Flyers tank the last couple of games in an effort to get New Jersey to move past them, and if not why not??

Also, I’m not sure how the next round works, but if they do brackets like in the NCAA basketball tournament things would become even worse in the second round, assuming the Flyers and Devils both win: the Flyers would probably have to play the #1 team in the conference, the Rangers, while the Devils would likely match up against the #2 seed, which would be Boston, which had the same point total as they did.

Obviously, if they recalculate the matchups after the first round–and I think somebody does that, but whether it’s the NHL or the NBA I can’t say for sure–then the situation’s not so terrible. But if they use the NCAA system, I’d sure rather get the 6 seed and play, in order, a significantly worse team and a team that’s equally as good as me than get the 5 seed and play, in order, the two best teams in the conference. Anybody know what’s the purpose of this system??


New york
new jersey


st louis

  1. Evidently not, as they won their next-to-last game.

  2. It’s popular to assume this or that team will tank for the advantages of finishing lower but inthe real world it would never happen in the open and probably would never be something the players themselves would do, as it’s just antithetical to the way they think and act.

However, the inherent unfairness of the division-seeding system is clear. It’s kind of hard to come up with a really good solution except to just say “hell with it, let’s have one giant league and just put the top 16 in.” But the problem with that is that it reduces the number of teams in a playoff race and so reduces interest late in the season.

That’s not how it works. The NHL does not have set brackets; you’re reseeded after every around. So if the winners are

  1. New York
  2. Boston
  3. Philadelphia
  4. New Jersey

… you rebracket, and New York plays New Jersey while Boston plays Philadelphia.

You could still have some inherent unfairness if the conference was REALLY unbalanced and both Boston and Florida were very weak teams, or something. But the structure of the regular season schedule makes that so unlikely it will likely never happen.

Interesting. Now I have this vague recollection, going back many years to the early seventies, when the Blackhawks (my home town team) were newly added to the Western division, that the playoff pairings were 1 vs 3 and 2 vs 4 rather than the much more standard 1-4 and 2-3. And that because the Hawks were clearly the class of the division, with St. Louis (?) a very distant second, that one of the two teams jockeying for the last two playoff spots (IIRC Pittsburgh and the Flyers, but don’t bet the rent on it) was accused of trying to lose so as to get the Blues instead of the Hawks in the first round. This ring anybody’s bells?

I sort of get that, but why is it then necessary to give the division winners higher seeds than they’d otherwise deserve?

Glad to hear that!

Thanks for the info.

The idea is to place a high value on the acheivement of winning your division. It assesses great credit to a team that finishes in first place. This year, Florida, for instance, gets to finish third instead of seventh or eighth. And that’s a big deal to them; New Jersey is not an easy opponent but they’re not as tough as New York or Boston, IMHO.

All sports, IIRC, automatically seed a division winner above any team that does not win a division; it’s just that in the NHL with small divisions, there’s a higher likelihood of this year’s scenario playing out, where a pretty mediocre team can be given a third-place berth.

In fairness, it doesn’t usually happen. This is the first really egregiously shitty third-seeded-division-winner scenario since, arguably, 2006-2007, when Atlanta wasn’t great, but even that wasn’t as bad as this.

It’s been suggested here and there that the value of winning a division be reduced a bit - say, you just get an automatic playoff berth, but you’re still seeded according to points. So Florida would have been seeded sixth. But that scenario would effectively remove all value from a division title, beause the likelihood of the weak division winner not having enough points to finish in the top eight is extraordinary low; it has never happened, IIRC, and the possibility of its happening is amazingly remote because with interdivisional games and 8 out of 15 teams making the playoffs, it’s just never going to happen that five teams THAT shitty will all be in one division. You might as well, at that point, just abandon divisions altogether.

The NHL plans to completely turf this system anyway, you might be interested to know. Starting whenever they can get the players’ union to sign off on it - probably the season after next - the plan is to abandon the current system in favour of four conferences, of 7 or 8 teams each. Each conference would give playoff sports to its top four teams and then those four teams would play off within the conference until four conference champions had been decided, and then those four teams would play off for the Cup in two more rounds - whether that would be by seeding or predetermined matchups has not yet been decided, I believe.

I don’t think I’d be a bit surprised to see the Blues bow out early, perhaps even in the first round. As mentioned, it’s hard to win in the playoffs if you can’t score reliably. That said, it’s really nice to see the team relevant again and in the playoffs.

Shouldn’t there be spoiler boxes here. I’ve already bought tickets to Caps vs. Bruins (games 3 and 4) and now you tell me the Bruins are going to sweep. :smack:

Poor Columbus, can’t even suck properly.

For the third year in a row, the Edmonton Oilers will be picking first overall in the NHL Entry Draft in June.

  1. Oilers
  2. Blue Jackets
  3. Canadiens
  4. Islanders
  5. Leafs

Edmonton has more problems on defence than offence, so let the speculation begin about whether or not they will trade that pick. It’s plausible.

I’m still thinking about the playoff matchups - I think I’ll put my predictions in before the first game.

The NFL isn’t immune to those kind of division playoff shenanigans - seems like every other year there’s an 8-8 team getting in over teams with 10 or 11 wins - in 2010, the 7-9 Seahawks got in over two 10 win teams. In fairness, they did win their first round matchup.

I’ll keep my analyses brief

Rangers vs. Senators

Which Senators show up? If it’s with their game faces on, Rangers will have their hands full.

Ottawa in 6.

Boston vs. Washington

Bruins won’t give Caps any room, Tim Thomas will shut the door when needed.

Boston in 6.

Florida vs. New Jersey

Brodeur and the Devils will show everyone how weak the Southeast division really is.
New Jersey in 5.

Pittsburgh vs. Philadelphia

Flyers have shrunk in size lately but will still play a physical series. The Pens will make them pay for any penalties.

Pittsburgh in 7 (with or without Crosby).

Vancouver vs. Los Angeles

Sedin twins and Luongo. KIngs won’t be able to match lines.
Vancouver in 5.

**St. Louis vs. San Jose **

Interesting series here, hard to bet against San Jose’s payroll errr… I mean… talent but I think the Blues eke this one out.

St. Louis in 7.

Phoenix vs. Chicago

Two words. Jonathan Toews, he plays they win.

Chicago in 7.

**Nashville vs.Detroit **

I like Preds but the Wings just have much much more playoff experience.

Detroit in 6.

Vancouver over LA - 6 games
St Louis over San Jose - 6 games
Phoenix over Chicago- 7 games
Nashville over Detroit - 6 games

Rangers over Ottawa - 5 games
Boston over Washington - 5 games
Florida over New Jersey - 7 games
Philadelphia over Pittsburgh - 7 games

Rangers over the Senators in 5
Flyers over the Pens in 6
Devils over Florida in 7
Boston over Washington in 6

Blackhawks over Phoenix in 6
Vancouver over the Kings in 5
Sanm Jose over St. Lois in 7
Nashville over Detroit in 7

On the other hand, Dallas lost 8 more games this season than LA. That’s huge.

I think 1 point should be awarded for a tie, 2 points for an overtime win and three points for a regulation time win. I think they used that system in the World Cup for soccer. Not sure if that would change the NHL standings with regard to these two teams though.

Na na na na, na na na na, hey hey-ey, goodbye !
Go Canucks Go !

Vancouver over LA-6 games

St Louis over San Jose-5 games

Chicago over Phoenix-6 games

Nashville over Detroit- 4 game sweep!
NY Rangers over Ottawa-5 games

Boston over Washington-5 games

Florida over New Jersey- 7 games

Philadelphia over Pittsburgh-7 games

No they didn’t. Dallas lost 40 games, LA lost 42. LA, as it happens, lost way more of their losses in overtime or a shootout. But they still lost. Personally, I don’t believe you should get any credit for that. They don’t give credit to basketball teams that lose in OT, or baseball teams that lose in extra innings. If you lose, you’re the loser.

I have a simpler idea which I think would make it fairer still;

1 point for a win.

That’s it.


Vancouver over LA-6 games

St Louis over San Jose- 6 games

Chicago over Phoenix-7 games

Nashville over Detroit- 6 games

NY Rangers over Ottawa-5 games

Boston over Washington-5 games (though I’m actually hoping Washington sweeps Boston with four consecutive 8-0 wins. On 9 shots per game.)

New Jersey over Florida- 7 games

Pittsburgh over Philadelphia -7 games