Tuesday, April 22, 2008

NHL Conference Semi-Finals Preview!

I sit here a few hours removed from an embarrassing performance in the SERC A Talent Show in which I played someone else's guitar and messed up many of the riffs I attempted to play. I very much wish that I would have gone up to get my guitar but I decided to fly by the seat of my pants and it cost me. I showed a combination of skill and incompetence in front of about 50 of my fellow residents but despite my nervousness I managed to come in 7th out of the 10 contestants. So, at least I got some pity votes. Needless to say, it is nice to be out of the spotlight and back to something I feel I can do proficiently no matter what the situation: write.

Before I delve into the second round match-ups of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, I'll give a quick movie review of "Forgetting Sarah Marshall," starring Jason Segel, Kristen Bell, and Mila Kunis.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall - Absolutely amazing. With some of the cast from movies like 40-Year-Old-Virgin, Knocked Up, and Superbad, Forgetting Sarah Marshall is beyond hilarious. The last movie I saw in theaters that I loved as much as this one was Wedding Crashers, and even that had a bit of a lull near the end when some of the comedy is lost (those few reflective scenes when Owen Wilson's character goes into his depression spiral). Forgetting Sarah Marshall had no such lull. In fact, one of the reasons I loved this movie so much was because it was a great movie, not just a great comedy. It was laugh-out-loud funny for almost two full hours and completely enjoyable in every way. Final verdict: 6 out of 5 stars. Yes, it was better than I thought possible. Go see it.

The Stanley Cup Playoffs are now in full swing and Barry "The Magic Mullet" Melrose is on ESPN every night analyzing each game. Although there will be fewer games each night now that all of the first round series are finished, I'm proud to say that I was fairly accurate in most of my predictions two weeks ago and I'm excited for what's to come.

In review of my East predictions, I picked Montreal to beat the Bruins in six and they won in seven. I picked Pittsburgh to win in six and they beat Ottawa in four (I thought Ottawa would actually show up to play...apparently I was mistaken). I picked Philadelphia to beat Washington in seven games and after tonight's thrilling contest, they did. The only surprise in the Eastern Conference first round series was New York's victory over New Jersey in five games. If you remember, I picked New Jersey in seven games because Martin Brodeur is a fantastic goaltender. I wasn't very confident in my New Jersey pick two weeks ago, and after watching the very first game of the series, I knew I was going to be wrong. The Devils defensemen played the worst hockey I've ever seen a group of defensemen play. They were atrocious. Anyway, so the Rangers won in five games and I went three for four in the East. As for the West, I picked Detroit over Nashville in five games, and were it not for a fluky victory in game three where the Predators scored two goals in the last four minutes, I would have been right. Detroit still won in six though, so I'm very pleased. I picked San Jose to win in six games and even though they played poorly and inconsistently, they fended off the pesky Flames and won in seven games. I picked Colorado to defeat Minnesota in six games, and they won exactly as I imagined they would. I was wrong in my final prediction however, as I said Anaheim would beat Dallas in seven games when Dallas actually won in six. I did say that if the Stars were to win the series, it would be Marty Turco who won it for them and he certainly did, so I was right in that sense. Turco was beyond stellar and the Stars sent the defending champs home early. So, that makes me three for four in the West and combined with the three for four in the East, I picked six of the eight series correctly. Not bad, not bad at all.

Now that those series are finished, a whole new set begins with the Conference Semi-Finals. Here are the East match-ups and my analyses...

(1) Montreal Canadiens vs. (6) Philadelphia Flyers

This series will be very interesting. Both of these teams played hard fought, seven game series in the first round. Both of these teams blew 3-1 leads but came back to win game seven. Montreal is a very good team with a young but solid goaltender. They have three solid lines but no star players. Philadelphia, on the other hand, is a young, upstart team with an inconsistent goalie and plenty of offensive talent. The Canadiens dispatched a resilient Bruins team, while the Flyers took care of a very impressive Capitals squad. I'm hard-pressed to pick a winner in this series, as I think the other series in the East will decide who goes to the Finals, but I'm going to go with my gut feeling. I think that the Flyers' forwards like Mike Richards and Jeff Fischer will give the Canadiens all they can handle, but Martin Biron, the Flyers' goalie, is just not good enough to take Philly to the Conference Finals. Montreal in six.

(2) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. (5) New York Rangers

Though I'm disappointed that this series won't come later and decide who will face the West in the Stanley Cup Finals, I can't fully express how exciting this series will be. Sidney Crosby. Evgeni Malkin. Marian Hossa. Jaromir Jagr. Brendan Shanahan. Scott Gomez. Chris Drury. Should I go on? The Penguins completely obliterated Ottawa in the first round, sweeping the defending East Champs right onto the golf course. They looked like the most impressive team in the playoffs with a balanced offensive attack and great goaltending from Marc-Andre Fleury. The Rangers though, made the Devils look silly and won three of their four games on the road in New Jersey, which is no easy task. Henrik Lundqvist is a fantastic young goalie and may win the Vezina Trophy this year, but can he stop the unrelenting offense of Sidney Crosby and Company? My guess is that he will help the Rangers push the series to the limit, but the Penguins are just too good. Pittsburgh in seven.

And here are the two Western Conference Semi-Finals...

(1) Detroit Red Wings vs. (6) Colorado Avalanche

Awesome. Awesome, awesome, awesome. Did I mention that this series will be awesome? The return of the Wings-Avs rivalry could bring back some of the casual hockey fans that loved to watch hockey back in the late 90's. With Colorado bringing back Peter Forsberg and Adam Foote, this really is a blast from the past. I have so many memories, both good and bad, of the unbelievable games that these teams played against each other years ago and I can't wait to add this series to those memories. Without Patrick Roy though, this Colorado team will have a lot of trouble staying with the Red Wings for an entire series. Joe Sakic and Peter Forsberg will lead the Avs to at least one victory in the series, maybe two, but the Wings have simply dominated the Avs in every way since the lockout. The Wings looked good against the Predators and Osgood looks great in net. Colorado took care of Minnesota with little difficulty but the difference between the Red Wings and the Wild is a massive one. Detroit in six.

(2) San Jose Sharks vs. (5) Dallas Stars

This is another great series in the making as both teams knocked off very good teams in the first round. San Jose managed to pull away with a game seven victory over Calgary even though they again struggled to play to their potential. The Stars played great hockey to beat the Ducks, and I expect that to continue in this series against the Sharks. Turco has vastly outplayed Nabokov so far and unless the Sharks step up their game, I don't see that changing. San Jose barely beat Calgary and the Stars are a much better team than the Flames, as they've proved in the playoffs by knocking off the defending champion Ducks. The teams split the regular season series and I think this series could easily go the distance. I think that the Sharks looked too weak in their series with Calgary to beat the Stars, but they could certainly turn it around and prove me wrong. Dallas in seven.

The schedule for the second round starts with the Red Wings-Avs and the Canadiens-Flyers hosting their game ones on Thursday night while the other two match-ups begin Friday night. In other news, this weekend is pretty eventful for UNH, as the Dropkick Murphys and State Radio will play Friday night and Patton Oswalt will perform Saturday night. They should both be fun and I'll also try and see the new Harold and Kumar movie sometime if I can...looks hilarious. Until next week, take care and enjoy playoff hockey!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Flyers in 6
Penguins in 5
Redwings in 5
Stars in 7