I was hoping for a Canucks win and a Sharks loss last night so that the Sharks wouldn't have to face the Blues (who swept the Sharks this season, eek) and it seemed like things were going "well" going into the third period, but then the Kings did that thing they do around the Sharks and lost the game in OT.
Either way, Canucks or Blues, I'm anticipating a first round exit, but I just wanted more interesting games. Not that I think there's something wrong with the Blues, but the way the Sharks play against them is kind of tiresome. :P
Playoff picks! This is possibly the first time I'm picking against the Sharks.
Senators/Rangers: The Senators having won their season series against the Rangers makes this pick a little more interesting to think about, but it's hard to predict these things when you haven't watched the teams play for an extended period of time. Craig Anderson has the ability to steal a series, but the Rangers have Lundqvist. Both teams had stretches where they were very good but haven't been that hot at the end of the season. I guess the safe pick is the Rangers. More interesting to me is how crazy early_afternoon and crankygeek will get during this series. :D
Capitals/Bruins: The Caps have been flailypants pretty much all season, so as much as it pains me, I'm going to go with the Bruins.
Devils /Panthers: It's nice that the Panthers are finally back in the playoffs (or something) but I'm looking at the point totals and the Devils have 8 more. How weird and 2001 is it for Petr and Patty and Brodeur to be playing for the Devils in the playoffs? Guess I'll pick the Devils for the "upset".
Flyers /Penguins: Sure, this year the Pens have Crosby and Malkin, but the Flyers have... Simmer!!! Normally I could just say, okay the Pens have Fleury and the Flyers have some crappy goalie, but Bryzgalov could turn on crazy Russian mode or something. I dunno. Mario picks the Penguins.
Kings/Canucks: I think the reason the Kings lost to the Sharks three times in overtime last playoffs was that they got used to depending on Quick to keep things close in games and then maybe scoring just the goals they needed to win or letting it go to OT and SO. They went to SO 12 times, lost in OT 4 times and won in OT 1 time. So out of 17 chances, they won oncein OT. They never got used to learning how to win in OT and just ended up in the shootout and... yeah, no shootouts in playoff games. The team is very different this season, so you can't make the same comparisons, especially after the deadline trade. They score more goals, but they're also poorer defensively and that could be a problem against the Canucks who can completely light you up, with or without Daniel Sedin. You never know what's going to happen with the Canucks, but they should win this series.
Sharks/Blues: The Blues swept the Sharks in the season series and I wouldn't say they were close games. The Sharks just had problems scoring against them. I've heard that they played their best games against the Sharks, but is that just coincidence or is it just one of those things where they play their best against a certain team? They tailed off a bit towards the end of the regular season, but the playoffs tend to get teams focused again. I can see an upset if the Blues flip out from being in the playoffs and being young and having pressure on them, and if the Sharks really play solid hockey, but history isn't looking good, so I'm going with the Blues.
Blackhawks/Coyotes:The Coyotes are going into the playoffs really hot, especially the play of Mike Smith. As long as they aren't, "Whee, we won the division we can take a break now! Oh wait, we have to play playoff games?" and sustain their play, they should be able to hang on to win the series. Mike Smith has also been in the playoffs before, so he probably won't freak out. Say, will Toews be playing? Coyotes
Red Wings/Predators: The Wings have been able to handle the Preds before in previous seasons, but this year they're the most wounded and vulnerable I've ever seen them while the Preds continue to be gross. I don't know. The Wings could win by playing possum? Maybe all of those games their players missed towards the end of the season will be good rest for them? I dunno, maybe I'll just pick the Red Wings so I have an upset in the west too. :P