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April 13, 2011

NHL Playoffs Start Tonight!

by Rev. A. J. Iovine

The one complaint I have heard over and over again (including this morning here at the cancer center) is that the National Hockey League's playoff season lasts just about as long as their regular season. I always remind these whiners that the NBA's postseason lasts just as long. But I realize that people's weak attempt at hockey humor comes from people who do not truly follow the sport. I mean, does the NHL play 82 games just to eliminate the New York Islanders? Of course not. You just can't tell that to the uneducated hockey person.

But tonight, the Stanley Cup Season kicks off and this year, my New York Rangers are set to take part. Now, my oncologist made a horrific joke on Monday about the Rangers chances — I asked her how my treatment was going and she responded by saying I have a better chance at beating cancer than the Rangers have in beating the Washington Capitals — and while my Blueshirt heart is aching, I can't say I disagree with her over the Rangers chances.

A guy who walked in with me this morning said that he, being a season ticket holder for the Rangers for the past several decades, thought the same about the Rangers in the playoffs against a good Capitals' team. He thinks the Rangers are a year or two away from really contending. We agreed that with too many young kids and without Ryan Callahan, goal tender Henrik Lundquist is going to have to play amazing for the locals to have a chance.

My playoff predictions, which haven't been so hot these past couple of years:

Washington over the Rangers (five games)
Pittsburgh over Tampa Bay (six games)
Boston over Montreal (six games)
Philadelphia over Buffalo (seven games)

Phoenix over Detroit (six games)
Vancouver over Chicago (five games)
Nashville over Anaheim (seven games)
San Jose over LA (five games)

My Western Conference predictions are upset heavy. There isn't a particular reason, but after watching a lot of Western Conference hockey this past season, I just have a feeling that if there are going to be a rash of upsets, they are going to come in the West. All of these teams are solid. I could even see the Blakchawks taking out the Canucks in Round 1. Yes, I have the Red Wings going out in Round 1, simply because I like the hockey the Coyotes have played. And the Predators, they are my "I Think Someone Spiked My Morning Cereal" pick, but I did this for Mike. 

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