Tag Archives: playoffs

My NHL playoff predictions

Tonight is the start of the NHL playoffs.

Orlandkurtenbach photo, via Wikimedia Commons

If the puck is behind Roberto Luongo, you know he's in playoff form.

Before I get on to my series picks, I thought it would be fun to have some bold predictions.

So here are 10 slightly-off-the-wall predictions:

There will be at least three goaltending controversies

I figure there are five teams that could see fans start screaming for the backup: Vancouver, St. Louis, Philadelphia, Boston and Washington, and all for different reasons.

St. Louis, for example, has two number one goalies. So if one struggles and the Blues are down two games in a series, I could see fans yelling for the other goalie.

In Philly, I could see Ilya Bryzgalov pitching two shutouts in the first two games. I could also see him being pulled after allowing 11 goals on 45 shots.

In Vancouver, there’s already speculation about Cory Schneider getting some playing time.

Last year, there was a small bit of talk about Tukka Rask being the starter for game three after Boston lost the first two games on home ice to Montreal, even though it wasn’t Tim Thomas’ fault.

And in Washington, I don’t even know who the #1 goalie is.

The seeds are already planted for at least three of those teams will have a goalie controversy.

No player will get more than 30 points

I understand with so many superstars in the playoffs, most people think 30 points is easily available. I’m less sure.

With so many good goalies and defensive teams, goals will be harder to come back. You’ll see more third- and fourth-liners winning games than the top two lines. That means scoring will be more spread out, and less points for the top players.

There will be no sweeps in the first round

I think the Blues-Sharks has the best chance for one, but I think every team wins at least one game.

There will be at least one major upset (7 or 8 seed winning)

I’m looking at Washington for this one. But I could easily see Ottawa beating the Rangers. But I don’t think the top two seeds will lose in the western conference.

Ilya Kovalchuk will not score in the first round

I think the Devils advance, but I think he’ll be snakebitten for the first round for some odd reason.

One team will not score a powerplay goal in the first round

This goes back to my earlier point about the defensive teams being so strong this year. New Jersey’s penalty kill is dynamite, so I think they’ll be the ones to do it.

Roberto Luongo will have a game where he lets in at least seven goals

Okay, so this one isn’t so off the wall, as he seems to do it every year.

There will be two suspensions in the first round

Pittsburgh and Philly, I’m looking to you guys to help me out on this one.

Nick Backstrom will lead the league in points after round one

Last year, the leading point-getter was Michael Cammalleri. So while Crosby, Malkin, Giroux, Sedin, etc. may be the top picks by a lot of people, I expect Backstrom to get at least eight points.

There will be one four-overtime game

We haven’t had one in a while. Last year, there were hardly any double-OT games. I think we’re due.

As for my series predictions:

Rangers over Senators in six

Capitals over Bruins in seven (upset special!)

Devils over Panthers in five

Penguins over Flyers in six

Canucks over Kings in six

Blues over Sharks in five

Blackhawks over Coyotes in six

Red Wings over Predators in six

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Stanley Cup final predictions

Because of life becoming busy (my sister-in-law was married on the weekend, of which I was the MC), I haven’t had a chance to make my predictions on the Stanley Cup finals.

So I figured I should make a quick pick before Game 2 begins tonight.

Originally when the playoffs began, I figured the Blackhawks would battle hard to get to the finals, only to lose because of the Marian Hossa jinx.

But as they playoffs have gone on, Chicago has gotten better and better. They seemed more in danger of losing to Nashville in the first round then they did versus the Sharks in the third round. Part of that has to do with matchups (one of the reasons why Montreal did so well this postseason was a favourable matchup against the Penguins and Capitals). But Chicago seems to be getting stronger as they go along. They’ve had no injuries to key guys, all the lines are rolling, the goaltending is solid enough and the defence is playing exceptionally well.

The Flyers have been a different story. They’ve had some key injuries (Brian Boucher, Simon Gagne and Jeff Carter missed some time), their lines aren’t as strong (there are quite a few nights when it’s only one line playing well), the goaltending has been great (though injury-prone), and the defence has been excellent as well (if only they could find someway to have Chris Pronger play 60 minutes a game).

But in the end, the Blackhawks are too strong a team. I expect them to pull out a series that will be great, but short.

Chicago in five.

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Round three NHL picks

Before I get into my picks, I just want to do a quick recap of how my hockey pool and previous picks are going.

Hockey pool update

So it looks like I’ll be winning a Playstation 3. Since I couldn’t get enough people together for a hockey pool, my wife had the idea that just me and her would one, and choose three teams each. We would call them different names, and if that team won, then the other had to buy whatever that gift was.

So for one of my teams, I chose PS3. If that team wins, my wife has to buy me one. She chose more chore based things, such as me painting the house.

But my PS3 team, I chose six Montreal, five Chicago and three Buffalo. So I still have 11 players left, so odds are pretty good that team will win. The next closest has five players left, but is 10 points back right now (that team has two Philly and three San Jose though, so there’s still a shot for me to lose).

Round two recap

In Round two, I went 2-for-4. Not bad, but not great either. I correctly predicted the Habs-Pens series, and the Blackhawks-Canucks, and even got the amount of games right.

Round three picks

The best way to do these picks are to look back a month. In my top 10 playoff predictions, this is what I said:

Look for the Blackhawks to get to the finals, but they’re not quite ready to win it all yet, leaving Hossa to lose in the finals for the third year in the row.

So I predicted Chicago to make it to the finals. So far, so good. Did I predict who they were going to meet? Of course I did. Under the heading, ‘Expect an underdog team to make it to the finals’, I wrote:

Every Olympic year has seen an underdog Eastern conference team make to the finals. This year, I choose Montreal to be that team.

So at the beginning of the playoffs, I chose Montreal to beat Chicago in the finals.

So I’m going to continue with that prediction here.

Montreal over Philadelphia in six games

Chicago over San Jose in six games

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Round two predictions

I know I’m a couple of days late on my second round predictions, but that doesn’t matter.

First round winners were 3-5 in the first game of the series. That shows that losing the first game isn’t really that big of a deal, and teams are able to come back from an early deficit. So I’m not worried if a couple of my picks are already down in the series.

I did pretty well in the first round. I got six series correct, missing on only the Canucks-Kings and Sabres-Bruins. I correctly predicted the Habs and Flyers upsets (one of the most frustrating things of reading “expert” picks is that they rarely predict upsets, instead of going with the easy picks), and even correctly predicted the amount of games for the Wings-Coyotes and Sharks-Avalanche.

Here are my picks for round 2:

Montreal Canadiens vs Pittsburgh Penguins: I realize a lot of people don’t like Pierre McGuire, but I would give almost anything to be able to listen to him on TSN again instead of the guys on CBC. The CBC guys are brutal. Garry Galley is such a Sens homer that he can’t get excited for anyone else. Bob Cole seems to be five seconds behind the play. And Glen Healy doesn’t add anything from ice level. The worst is that the three guys seem to interrupt each other frequently, and we never get updates. On TSN, they’ll keep updating us on shots, blocks, hits, etc. For the CBC, I need to keep track of those things by logging onto my laptop and going to NHL.com. Not a good sign.

The other problem is that at some point in Game 1, Montreal thought they had scored. A Habs player was pointing into the net, but instead of acknowlding a possible goal, we were treated to a discussion about how great Sidney Crosby is on the faceoffs.

The analysis is bad, and we don’t actually learn anything. Please TSN, I’m begging you. Bring back the Habs if you can. Offer CBC the Hockey Night in Canada theme song. Make a trade where CBC gets Jennifer Hedger. Anything. But don’t let me listen to a long series of Cole, Healy and Galley.

Anyways, my pick is Habs in seven.

Philadelphia Flyers vs Boston Bruins: Forget for a minute the whole Marc Savard coming back and being an inspirational story. It’s the Flyers injuries that are the problem.

First, Jeff Carter is out for quite a while. That’s only 33 goals this season and 46 goals last year gone from the lineup. Simon Gagne is injured (lather, rinse and repeat), meaning a fast-skating scoring threat is gone. And Ian Laperriere is also done with after blocking a shot with his face. For Laperriere it’s not the goal-scoring they’ll miss, but the grit he brings to the ice.

And the worst thing for the Flyers is that Daniel Carcillo is still playing. He was in the penalty box when Boston made it 3-1 in game 1. He tries to be like Claude Lemieux, but he’s not as smart and doesn’t get away with as much stuff as Lemieux did. It’s going to end up costing the Flyers a game.

I think it would be great if Zdeno Chara and Chris Pronger got involved in some sort of on-ice altercation, but that doesn’t generally happen, since their opponents won’t be small enough for them to want to do something.

My pick is Bruins in six.

Detroit Red Wings vs San Jose Sharks: Let’s see: It’s playoff hockey, and Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Dany Heatley aren’t doing much. They had an easy team in the first round, but are now playing someone tougher. And there are questions about their heart.

Yup, sounds like the annual Sharks postseason. Yes, they won the first game of the series, but Detroit was tired, after playing a game 7 against the Phoenix Coyotes. And even then, it was a close game. I expect the Red Wings to bounce back in a big way.

My pick is Wings in six.

Vancouver Canucks vs Chicago Blackhawks: When I made my top 10 playoff predictions a few weeks back, one of them was that Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo would have a game where he lets in at least seven goals.

I was thinking of this series when I made that prediction. In game six last year in a series between these two teams, he let in seven goals. Against the L.A. Kings in the first round, he got pulled in a game after allowing four goals on 16 shots in about half a game.

The Blackhawks have a much better offensive team, and can ring up the goals no problem. I expect the Blackhawks to get better as the series goes along.

My pick is Chicago in six.

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NFL picks, Week 2 playoffs

After a disappointing 2-2 record last week, I’m determined to get at least three right this week.

Just a couple of notes on why I’m picking who I am.

Baltimore Ravens at Tennessee Titans: Baltimore has more playoff experience. Their defence is tough, and they have a solid running game. Their only downside is they have a rookie quarterback (Joe Flacco) playing on the road. Still, I think their defensive experience will pull this game out for them.

Arizona Cardinals at Carolina Panthers: Arizona is brutal on the road. They were 3-5 on the road, but their three wins were all against non-playoff teams. Carolina was 8-0 at home, and has the benefit of not playing last week. Carolina is too tough and has too many weapons. Despite the big spread, Carolina to win.

Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants: The Giants are Superbowl champs, have confidence and home field advantage. The Eagles have momentum and a win in New York a few weeks back. But the Giants have had an extra week to prepare, and will be ready for the Eagles this week. Giants to win.

San Diego Chargers at Pittsburgh Steelers: As you can tell, I’m a big fan of the home team winning this week. Except for the Ravens, I expect the home team to win all these games, and Pittsburgh is no exception. I’m a little concerned about the spread and the fact Ben Roethlisberger is coming off a concussion. But I think the Chargers peaked last week, and will experience an emotional letdown this week. I think the Steelers win pretty easily.

 

NFL Week 19: tommco’s Picks
Game Spread Pick
Baltimore at Tennessee Line: Titans by 2 1/2 Ravens
Arizona at Carolina Line: Panthers by 9 1/2 Panthers
Philadelphia at New York Line: Giants by 4 1/2 Giants
San Diego at Pittsburgh Line: Steelers by 6 1/2 Steelers

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NFL playoffs, round 1 picks

So we’re now in the playoffs for the NFL. Lots of tough games this week. Every matchup is within a field goal, so the people who set the lines must be expecting some pretty good games.

Anyways, on to the picks.

Game Spread Pick
Atlanta at Arizona Line: Falcons by 2 1/2 Cardinals
Indianapolis at San Diego Line: Colts by 1 1/2 Colts
Baltimore at Miami Line: Ravens by 2 1/2 Ravens
Philadelphia at Minnesota Line: Eagles by 2 1/2 Vikings

 

Arizona at home is better than Atlanta on the road.

The Colts will kill the Chargers. San Diego had to beat a lot of bad teams to make the playoffs at 8-8. Indianapolis beat a lot of good teams to make the playoffs. Indy will continue their streak.

Miami is probably the feel-good story, and had some good games this season. But Baltimore killed them earlier this season. Miami is overmatched.

Philadelphia is the one team I haven’t been able to figure out. When I think they’re winning, they lose. When I stop believing in the team, they start winning. But I think Adrian Peterson and the Vikings will be too much. Plus, Minnesota’s defence is great against the run, which can help negate Brian Westbrook.

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Week 17 football predictions

So we’re down to the final regular season week of the NFL. A lot of tough games to predict this week because you don’t know what teams will do. Will they rest their starters? For how long? If a team has a chance for the playoffs, but is playing at 4 p.m., and becomes eliminated before they play, will they come out flat? For teams eliminated, do they try dressing second-line players to get an idea if they deserve a starting job next season? And so on.

Throw in the fact there are six games where the spread is more than a touchdown, and it makes for a difficult week in predictions.

Anyways, on to the picks:

Game Spread Pick
St.Louis at Atlanta Line: Falcons by 14 1/2 Falcons
Chicago at Houston Line: Texans by 2 1/2 Bears
New York at Minnesota Line: Vikings by 6 1/2 Giants
Carolina at New Orleans Line: Panthers by 2 1/2 Panthers
Cleveland at Pittsburgh Line: Steelers by 10 1/2 Steelers
Oakland at Tampa Bay Line: Buccaneers by 12 1/2 Raiders
Tennessee at Indianapolis Line: Titans by 2 1/2 Titans
Detroit at Green Bay Line: Packers by 9 1/2 Packers
New England at Buffalo Line: Patriots by 6 1/2 Patriots
Kansas City at Cincinnati Line: Bengals by 2 1/2 Bengals
Jacksonville at Baltimore Line: Ravens by 12 1/2 Ravens
Miami at New York Line: Jets by 2 1/2 Dolphins
Seattle at Arizona Line: Cardinals by 5 1/2 Cardinals
Washington at San Francisco Line: 49ers by 2 1/2 Redskins
Dallas at Philadelphia Line: Eagles by 1 1/2 Cowboys
Denver at San Diego Line: Chargers by 8 1/2 Broncos

Some thoughts on some of the games:

New York Giants against Minnesota Vikings, Minnesota by 6 1/2: This is way too big a spread. I know the Vikings are going for a playoff spot, and they’ve won four of their last five, but I think the Giants are too difficult a team for them to beat. Remember week 17 last year, the Giants kept all their starters in against the 15-0 New England Patriots. They didn’t win, but they kept it close, and gave them momentum for the playoffs. It wouldn’t surprise me if they do the same thing, as they haven’t looked good the last few weeks. My pick: Giants.

Tennessee Titans at Indianapolis Colts, Tennessee by 2 1/2: Both teams are in the playoffs, both are sitting comfortably where they are, and can’t move up or down. So it will be interesting to see how fired up this game is. Peyton Manning will play probably the first quarter, and that would be it. I think the Titans starters will play longer, giving them the slight advantage in this matchup. My pick: Titans.

Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers, Green Bay by 9 1/2:  Green Bay is 5-10 this season, but one of those wins was a 48-25 thumping of the Lions in Detroit. The Lions will have a lot to play for: pride, and ummmm….. I guess that’s about it. But the Packers have nothing to play for, except for the distinction of not getting beat by the worst team in the history of football. I still don’t think the Lions can pull it off, and will finish the season 0-16. My pick: Packers.

Miami Dolphins at New York Jets, Jets favoured by 2 1/2: A lot on the line in this game. The Jets have looked ugly the last four weeks, their only win coming because of a bad Buffalo Bills team screwing things up in a game they had won. Brett Favre is getting worse as the season wears on. The Dolphins though, have been more impressive, winning eight of their last nine games. I think a game like this, you have to go with the team with the confidence and momentum. My pick: Dolphins.

Denver Broncos at San Diego Chargers, San Diego favoured by 8 1/2: First off, this spread is way too big for a game with such huge implications (the winning team makes the playoffs, the losing team is out). The Broncos are 5-1 in games decided by four points or less, whereas the Chargers are 2-4 (and those two wins are both one-point victories against the Kansas City Chiefs where they had no business winning). I think this stays a close game because both teams have so much to play for, and since it’s the Sunday night national game, it’s on an even bigger stage. I think not only does Denver cover, but they win the game outright. My pick: Broncos.

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5 favourite Sens moments

I know I make fun of the Ottawa Senators a lot (with good reason). But I thought I would start the NHL season off this year with an olive branch to Sens fans.

They did go to the finals two years ago. They do have a great first line. They have made an effort to get rid of some of the problems they had last year.

It’s not right to hate on a team so much. So with that being said, here were my top five favourite Ottawa Senators moments of the 2007-2008 season.

5) Chris Neil takes on Donald Brashear in a game on

3) We’re coming back!

The Sens are down 2-0 halfway through the third period against the always great Montreal Canadiens. That’s when a Sens fan decides to cheer his team on with his prediction of a Sens comeback. Montreal scores three seconds later, and go on to a 3-0 win, and clinch the division title.

Good on the fans though, for never giving up and always supporting your team, even if it makes you sound silly.

2) Another comeback

Montreal took a 7-1 lead after two periods, and took the third period off. Ottawa came back to make it 7-5. Good on them for finally showing up for the period Montreal took off. Most teams would have licked their wounds and waited for another night. But not the Sens. They decided to make a lopsided loss look more like a decent loss. Good for them.

1) Meet the Spartan

Good for Ottawa to try and get fans engaged in the playoffs, even though they didn’t show up for the first two games in Pittsburgh and were down 2-0 in the series. Glad to see them try to get the fans going, even though most fans were, 1) confused, and 2) decidedly more calm after the introductions. Nothing says Ottawa Senators more than something screwing up.

 

So there’s my olive branch, Sens fans. I hope you accept it. It would be better if we were friends. I would hate for us to be bitter with one another when the Habs are hoisiting the Stanley Cup in June. We might even let you hold it, but just for a minute.

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Women Against Fantasy Sports

Apparently some women hate fantasy sports.

Who knew?

Luckily, my wife is understanding enough to allow me to continue playing. Although she gets bored when the actual draft happens, she’s very supportive the rest of the time. If I ask her for the computer on Sunday morning so I can make sure my fantasy football roster is up to date, she’s cool with it. In fact, she’ll ask how it looks and what my chances are, even though she doesn’t follow football.

That’s why I was surprised to read about the website, Women Against Fantasy Sports. On the site, women can talk about stories about their husbands and their fantasy sports (such as a woman whose husband waited until the end of a baseball draft before realizing she was going into labour, or the woman’s husband who delayed their evacuation during a hurricane so he could update his lineup).

There’s even a section devoted on how to ruin his draft.

It’s a fun website. I don’t take it too seriously, because I know even though I love fantasy sports, I’m not over the top.

In fact, I encourage most women to check it out, because then your husband won’t seem as bad.

But I find the best way around fantasy sports is to have your partner involved. A few years ago, I convinced my wife to participate in her first NHL hockey pool, and it happened to be the playoffs. For the first two rounds afterwards, this would be our conversation:

Me: Hi honey, what do you want to do tonight?

Wife: There’s a double-header of hockey on. We’re staying in to watch the games.

Me: I love you!

My wife loved it. She checked the pool stats several times a day, learned who the players were, and we had a special bond between us.

As well, at one point, she won three hockey pools in a row, which always helps.

Only 20 more days until this year’s draft!

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