Well, my regular season predictions were just like the title of it indicated - the worst! Phoenix ... I don't get them, but they still finished ahead of the 'Hawks and made the playoffs with was 8 positions higher than what I gave them (14th). I also had the Blues in the playoffs. Gah. Moving right along ...
The skinny: Not Boudreau. The Capitals were an offence that went from explosive to anemic in one season. 219 GF is not what the Capitals are used to looking like and that numbers dwindles when to remove the 12 EN goals and the 2 PS goals as well and were shutout 11 times ... the same number of shutouts that Lunqvist had this season. The Rangers also boast a slightly better offence as well with a little more balance.
Something to watch: Lundqvist vs. the myriad of goaltending - Varlamov, Neuvirth, Holtby.
Prediction: NYRangers in 6. I'm not loving the new style that everyone seems to be enamoured with in the D.C. and it's "indicative" of what happens come playoff time. The NYRangers are a more balanced of an offensive attack and have the much better defence corps and goaltending. Done. Goodbye Boudreau enjoy the KFC.
The skinny: Not Pronger's wife. No Pronger spells deep issues for last season's Cinderella Story, that and having Boucher as the guy going in ... against Ryan Miller. Combine that with the probability that Hartnell and Leino won't recreate their offensive magic as the playoffs before and you may have an upset. Oh, and the Flyers play down the stretch should have anyone jumping up and down either. Ryan Miller has had an up-and-down season that seen his play improve over the final quarter which is also bad news to everyone in the East.
Something to watch: Pronger's health.
Prediction: This is one that can go either way, but I like the Sabres to pull this one out in 6. Ryan Miller vs. Bobrovsky or Boucher .... that's enough for me.
The skinny: Carey Price has had a rocky relationship with the fans of les bleu, blanc, et rouge and that could get worse if he doesn't recreate the greatness that was Jaroslav Halak of last year. Unfortunately for him, it's the Bruins he see's in the first round and not the Capitals ... and they want blood after vomiting a 3-0 lead to the Flyers last season. The Habs have historically owned the Bruins, but the Bruins do have a much better and balanced team than in recent seasons.
Something to watch: Kaberle to Chara for the one-timer on the PP.
Prediction: Bruins in 6. Bigger, stronger, and more hungrier than the Habs. Combine that with, most likely, Vezina winner in Tim Thomas and that enough for me to chomp on.
The skinny: Dan Byslma is a genius for getting out of the this what he did without the services of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin to the point where they almost won the division. Incredible. Also incredible was the coaching job of Guy Boucher who finally got the Lightning to play a defensive game that complimented their offensive talents to make them a much more dangerous team. Stamkos cooled off at the end, but still had a wonderful year altogether.
Something to watch: How many status updates we get about Sidney Crosby's health. I'm going about 10 per game.
Prediction: Lightning in 6. Too many offensive weapons at Boucher's disposal and combine that with 2 teams that play disciplined defensively the PP could be a determining factor and Tampa's is far more explosive. Roloson vs. Fleury should be a good match-up.