Monday, March 28, 2011
Here's a look at the East. I refuse to post the West because to be honest, there are just too many "what if" scenarios over there. Shit be crazy.
Your usual culprits at the top of the standings. But we as hockey fans know that we have the best post season tournament in sports. And one of the main reasons is because it is unpredictable. Any team can win Cup. It's not a 1 vs 16 seed in the first round. It's 1 vs 8. Best of 7. And the drop off between the teams is usually not too great. See one Capitals, Washington circa 2010 vs the Montreal Canadians.
Every year though, there is that one team in each Conference that you just pray your team won't have to face. Up until this weekend, everyone in the East feared the Devils. And for good reason, they went on an unbelievable run to push for the playoffs, but in the end, the hole proved to be too deep.
The East playoff picture is pretty much set, and when I look at it, there is one team that I'd want nothing to do with, especially in the first round, and it's all because of this man:
He's just so dashing!
In all honesty though, the New York Rangers had, and probably glad they did, been lost in the shuffle due to New Jersey's ridiculous streak. But now that the Devils know they'll be hitting the links in April, the Rangers emerge from the fog as one of the NHL's hottest teams.
The Rangers are 8-1-1 in their last 10. I know they've been up and down all season, but the scary part is that Lundqvist has been carrying the team for most of the 2nd half of the season, and he just now seems to be hitting his stride. He recorded 3 of his NHL leading 11 shutouts in the Month of March. He's 4th in Save % (.924) and 5th in GAA (2.24). For a team plagued with inconsistent play all season, now is as good a time as ever to really mesh as a team. I'm too lazy to look past the last 2 seasons, but think about the Flyers and Penguins and their Cup runs. The Penguins had to go on crazy run to just make the playoffs and ended up winning the Cup. The Flyers needed a shootout victory over the Rangers last year to even make the playoffs, and they rode that momentum all the way to the Cup finals. It's all about which team is playing the best...and what team is housing the hottest goaltender when the playoffs start.
Let's assume the East stays the way it is right now, which I think it will. We'll be left with:
(1)Flyers vs (8)Sabres
(2)Caps vs (7)Rangers
(3)Bruins vs (6)Habs
(4)Pens vs (5)Lightning
Boy, for a Capitals team that has been struggling to find the back of the net all season, a first round match up against the Rangers would be mighty tough. Not saying...just saying.
What's the point of this article? I don't know. Basically I'm just saying that the Rangers scare the shit out of me as a potential first round opponent, and I'd want nothing to do with them based on their goaltending and recent play as a team.
Honorable Mention: Gotta represent Vance's Sabres here too. I think we all know that Ryan Miller can win a series on his own just based on his Olympic resume. And that little midget Gerbe is pretty shifty. Connolly sucks.