The First Round of the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs wrapped up last night with a game seven in the West, so that means it's time to look back and see just how I fared when it came to first round predictions. The scoring is 1 pt. for a correct prediction, and an additional pt. for the correct amount of games predicted.
Buffalo Sabres (1) vs. New York Islanders (8) - Down the stretch the the Islanders defied the odds and managed to pull in an unlikely 8th seed in the East. The first round forecast didn't look great, and even with the return of goaltender Rick DiPietro, the Isles weren't able to hold off the powerhouse that is the Buffalo Sabres. For their part, if the Sabres expect to make it past round two, they'll need to pick up their play.
I had the Sabres, but I predicted the sweep, so only 1 pt.
New Jersey Devils (2) vs. Tampa Bay Lightning (7) - The Devils won the Atlantic Division on the back of Martin Brodeur and his 2.18 Goals Against Average. However it was Zach Praise and Brian Gionta offensive abilities that took center stage against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Praise netted 6 goals, Gionta 5, and the Devils rebounded from a 2-1 series deficit to disposed of the Lightning in 6. The pivotal moment in the series came in game 5, when the teams battled to an extra frame, with the Devils ultimately winning and taking the series momentum.
Add another tally, I called the Devils, but I predicted 5 games.
Atlanta Thrashers (3) vs. New York Rangers (6) - The Blue and Red made quick work of the Southeast Division leading Thrashers, who were making their franchise postseason debut. Atlanta fans just have to wait for another opportunity to pick up that first postseason victory, as the Devils stole both games in Atlanta, and finished off the series sweep in New York. Nylander stepped up to task, with 4 goals and 4 assists. Along with the sweep, it's possible the Thrashers may have also manufactured a goaltending controversy by yanking promising 22 year old starting goaltender Kari Lehtonen after a poor performance.
Put a couple on the board for this one, called Rangers; called the sweep.
Ottawa Senators (4) vs. Pittsburgh Penguins (5) - Despite skepticism amongst Canadian press, the Senators finally kicked their playoffs woes, sending the young Penguins packing in 5 games. Ottawa kept Ray Emery's workload limited, and controlled the flow of play in the neutral zone. Despite a broken foot, league leading scorer Sidney Crosby played well for the Penguins with 3 goals and 2 assists.
You can't blame me for not picking against my team, I had the Penguins in 6.
Detroit Red Wings (1) vs. Calgary Flames (8) - Talk of another postseason disappointment in Detroit began after the Wings squander a 2-0 series lead, dropping games 3 and 4 in Calgary. The Red Wings battled back, taking game 5 by a 5-1 margin. Facing elimination Flames goaltender Mikka Kiprusoff carried Calgary through 2 overtimes, making 53 saves, but it's was not enough against the Detroit attack. Johan Frazen's long shot from the slot beat Kiprusoff and sent the Wings to the second round.
Another correct prediction. Wings. 6 games.
Anaheim Ducks (2) vs. Minnesota Wild (7) - The Wild staved off the sweep with an impressive showing in game 4, but with Giguere starting in place Bryzgalov in game 5 the Anaheim Ducks finished off the series with a 4-1 win. Giguere sat out the first 3 games of the series while he dealt with serious family issues. Questions remain about who will be between the pipes for the second round.
I got this one right as well, Ducks in 5.
Vancouver Canucks (3) vs. Dallas Stars (6) - In what was the most highly contested of the first round series, Roberto Luongo and Martin Turco went head-to-head in a seven game goaltenders duel. Both held Goals Against well under 2, and save percentage over .940. In the end, the Canucks edged by the Stars.
Man, I picked the Stars in 7. But had I known Vancouver was going to break out the vintage jerseys for the home game 7, I wouldn't have made that mistake. How could they possible lose?
Nashville Predators (4) vs. San Jose Sharks (5) - When the Predators made the midseason acquisition of Peter Forsberg, some were too ready to concede the Stanley Cup. But when they finished out of the division lead and pulled the 4th spot they ran head on into the perennial darkhorse, the San Jose Sharks. Game 1 went into 2 overtimes, and when the Sharks notched the game winner they took control of the series. Evgeni Nabokov and Sharks kept the dynamic Nashville offense off the board, winning the series in 5 games.
Perhaps I bought into the Nashville hype too much, I had them in 5.
5-3 with 8 pts.
Overall, a rather mediocre first round on my part. Even if you spot me the Pens series, I went 2 for 4 in the West. I did manage better than Maggie, but I'll have to pick up my game for round 2.