The playoffs are upon us and the Stanley Cup is up for grabs. It’s surprising when you think about how many teams are legitimate contenders. It used to be that the Sharks and Bruins were huge favorites, but now I am not too sure. That is why we play the game. It’s a fun time to watch.
When you think of the teams in east that could challenge the Bruins, the biggest that comes to mind is the Capitals. They have some guy on their team that is supposed to be really good; his name is on the tip of my tongue . . . oh yeah, Alex Ovechkin, But don’t kid yourself; there is more to this team than Alex. Who, you may ask? Mike Green has 31 goals this season and has a terrific shot. The only downside is the goaltending; but you have to count the Caps as a serious contender this season.
The other contender you have to think about is the Devils, led by the best goalie in the world, Martin Brodeur. He knows how to get it done. The Devils probably have the best Amercian-born player in Zach Parise (in my honest opinion). The major acquisition maybe bringing in Shanny as a free agent. His experience and leadership in the dressing room will prove to be invaluable in the playoffs. The Devils could very well be the East representative come in the spring.
Now, I must of course talk about the first seed, the East the Boston Bruins. Everyone knows about the Bruins’ Chara, Thomas, and Savard , but they have something more dangerous - the depth. Terrific back-up goalie Manny, support in scoring: Kobasew, Kessle, and many more. The Bruins are probably the second-best team in the NHL going into the playoffs; they will be hard to beat.
There are my three top teams in the east. Yeah, I know I am going on the limb there, picking the top three. But when it comes to down to it, I think the Devils will win the East; they have the talent and the best goalie in the League. But it would not surprise me to see the Capitals win the East either.
The West is really wild. It is even hard for me to pick a top three. It could almost be argued that all eight teams are contenders. So the top three I pick up in the West are Van, Det, and the Sharks.
The Sharks are quite obvious, aren’t they? Where do I start? I think it all starts with the defense getting the puck to the forward. The one thing the Sharks needed after Campbell left was a puck-moving defensemen. So with that, they acquired Boyle and signed Blake as a free agent. Now they have puck handlers to get the puck to Thornton and Marleau. The Sharks have the best top 6 forwards in the league. The good thing about them is that you hardly even know who they are, which essentially means they have plenty of cap room. The Sharks are pretty much awesome.
The Wings have to be considered a favorite just because they are good year after year. The normal standouts, Henrik Zetterberg, Marian Hossa, and Pavel Datsyuk lead the way. And that Defenseman named Nicklas Lidstrom seems to be constant top defensemen winner for what seems to be a 25 year ongoing ritual. But the Wings, like the Sharks, have a good supporting cast. In fact, I would say even a stronger one on forwards. Of course, they have players like Johan Franzen and Tomas Holmstrom. The only question is, can Osgood carry the team? He has done it before, why not now?
The Canucks have the best goalie in the West in Roberto Luongo, who can win any series by himself. Combine that with the Sedin twins, and some other Swede. . . oh yeah, Mats. But there is one more Canuck I want to talk about, the one we all love to hate. Alexandre Burrows is having a terrific season. I can hear my Calgary friends putting hexes on me, but numbers don’t lie. He is one of the best pests in the League. He knows his role, and does it well. The Canucks are a serious contender for the playoffs.
I still think the team in the West to beat is the Sharks; they have the overall best talent in the West. That being said, “Go Flames!” and don’t you ever forget it. But in reality, the Stanley Cup could have a touch of teal on it come the spring.
SHOUT OF THE WEEK
Adam Pardy I see he is up for hit of the year on Bell. Pardy has been the most improved Flame this season. Adam is a great guy who loves what he does. I am thrilled to see him get some recognition this season.