Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Onus: #7 Seeds

Vance -

New York Rangers - Chris Drury

Columbus Blue Jackets - R.J. Umberger
The maligned captain of the Rangers shows up in the biggest of games, in case you didn’t know, Gary Thorne and Bill Clement are sure to tell you each time he touches the puck on NHL 09. The LLWS champ knows how to get it done late, and against the Caps, they may be coming from behind more often than not.This probably won’t be a popular pick but hear me out. Steve Mason has proved nearly unflappable through his rookie season and Rick Nash is flat out talented. Columbus lacks the secondary scoring punch needed to be successful in the playoffs, R.J. and his 3rd line counterparts, Torres and Boll need to produce.
Denson -
New York Rangers - Sean Avery
Columbus Blue Jackets - Steve Mason
Yes everyone hates him, but he probably does his “job” better than anyone else in the NHL right now. The Rangers lacked secondary scoring all season. Antropov has helped in that category. But Rangers still weren’t a very difficult or tough team to play against, so they needed someone to take the focus away from their scorers, allow them time and space, and toughen up the team a bit. Enter Sean Avery. If Avery can do his job without getting suspended or a ridiculous amount of penalty minutes that put his team shorthanded (even though the Rangers PK is an NHL best), then I like their chances of at least upsetting the Capitals.Rookie goaltender Steve Mason has had an unbelievable year and probably single handedly got Columbus into the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. Now comes the hard part. Playoff hockey. All eyes will be on Mason to see how he handles the pressure. Hopefully they aren’t just happy to be here.
JToB -
New York Rangers - Henrik Lundqvist
Columbus Blue Jackets - Rick Nash
The Capitals have an obscene amount of scoring talent. Their powerplay is absolutely absurd. Of all the series, this one seems like it could be the most lopsided. Except in net. Lundqvist is a fabulous goaltender ... possibly the only bright side the Rangers fans have to look on since they're married to a mediocre team full of bad, prison-term contracts. It's hard not to like the guy, which is the exact opposite phrase I'd use for most of his teammates.Most people would probably reflexively say "Steve Mason" but although the rookie's been great, let me remind you: Pascal Leclaire had a asston of shutouts last year. That Ken Hitchcock fellow seems to know a thing or two about coaching, eh? Nope, in this team's first playoff run the burden's on the team's One True Star. For years, people have been pitying Nash for being on a pitiful team. Now he has a chance to shine on the biggest stage he's ever been on, against the best franchise in hockey. Could Nash break the shaky will of Osgood or will Lidstrom jedi mind-trick Nash into oblivion? That might be the series' burning question.
Reed -
New York Rangers - Sean Avery
Columbus - Nash & Steve Mason
We could have chosen Henrik Lundqvist, but really, all eyes are going to be on Avery after last year’s infamous screen. He’s a pest, a chirper, a royal pain in the ass, but pre-Tim Thomas head whacking, he was as calm as a Zen monk. Avery can be a huge distraction on the ice -- that is if he’s not hurting his own team with his antics. Regardless of which Avery shows up to play, he can produce points and get under the coolest players’ skin.Can you really choose either one? On one hand you have a rookie goalie with ten shutouts. Wow. Then you have Rick Nash, the team's point scoring leader and captain. It's the first time in the playoffs for the Blue Jackets and while many might peg them to be an early exit, remember, they play in a division with the Blackhawks and Red Wings. If the Blue Jackets move on past the first round, it's going to be on those two's shoulders, no doubt about it.

And ladies and gentleman, at 5:03 Eastern time this morning, Cycle Like the Sedins emailed me his picks. INSANITY.

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