It's the most wonderful time of the year!
It's the Playoffs Predictions and Previews for 2011. How we love this time of year. We get into arguments with grown men over the merits of Patrice Bergeron and why the Ducks can win it all again. This is the time of year when we don't have to shave our legs if we don't want to. It's called supporting the boys, jeez.
We are going back to the old way we would do the previews with who sucks and who doesn't, the player that will take them to the promised land or the S Factor as we like to call it.
And we are throwing in our predictions based on who we think should win. They may not be based in facts but we can still hope that the Hawks bring on the upset of the century.
This feels like 2009 all over again with these match-ups. The only one that is different is the Penguins/Lightning match-up. The seedings may have changed or the players may be different but fans do not forget.
Let's get this show on the road, bitches!
#1 Washington Capitals / #8 New York Rangers
The last week of the season was up and down between the Flyers and the Capitals for the first seed. They were battling it out to the end although the Flyers had the first seed for pretty much the whole season.
With this new defensive style that the Capitals are playing, it is going to be interesting to see how they play in the play offs. We are used to seeing them score 10 goals and give up 9, but they would win of course.
X-Factor - Michal Neuvirth
If he can see the puck he will stop it. It is up to him to carry this team to the Finals, it is up to him to be the last line of defense. With the loss of Dennis Wideman and Mike Green not playing up to par, it is all Neuvirth.
And the Rangers, wow, as Penguins fans we would not want to play them. They have great goaltending, an aggressive forecheck and a never give up attitude. They're going to be a tough team to play against, especially Marc Staal and Dan Girardi.
The Rangers do rely heavily on Henrik Lundqvist and that is a problem sometimes because if he fails, so do they. The man is a machine at stopping pucks and he is the whole reason the Rangers are even in the play offs.
X-Factor - Brandon Dubinsky
With the loss of Ryan Callahan, there is a hole left open in the offense and the defense of the Rangers. He is helpful in both ends of the rink and without him, the Rangers need Dubinsky to step it up and take over Callahan's role.
Henrik: Rangers, duh, it's actually insulting that you would feel the need to ask me and make sure that you put that in the prediction
Noodles: as much as I hate to say it, Capitals because I don't think any team can man-handle them like the Pens do
LeTude: Rangers, two words Henrik Lundqvist and their overall team-defense will overcome the one-trick pony Capitals
#2 Philadelphia Flyers / #7 Buffalo Sabres
Oh the Flyers, hmm, what good can we say? Just kidding. They had a short off-season but came back roaring into the season and pretty much had the top spot down until the Capitals snuck in and stole it.
What impresses the most about the Flyers is the way that they quietly ran up the standings and took over almost quietly. It's like no one noticed their complete dominance in the East. We did and we're watching...
X-Factor - Andrej Meszaros
He is offensive enough to be a threat and has finally learned that defense is important when you're a defenseman. He will be a factor against the smaller Sabres offense if he plays like we think he will. The Flyers defense is deep and he's an important part of it.
The Sabres are probably one of the most surprising teams this season. They came out of nowhere fifteenth place or something like that and made it to seventh. We would not count them out, hell no. The Sabres are a tough team to play against and they have solid team defense.
One thing we are afraid of is the offense failing the Sabres. With the loss of Derek Roy for a little bit more and the injury to Ryan Miller, it's gonna be tough. But we think that the trade to get Brad Boyes was one of the smartest things Buffalo did and he should help in the offense part.
X-Factor - Stafford/Ennis/Boyes line
If they step up like they have since the trade deadline then we have confidence that they will prevail over the Flyers. It is their combined offense that will carry the Sabres into the next round. If they don't show up then, well, hello 18-holes.
Henrik: Flyers because of Claude Giroux
Noodles: Sabres, I just think that their stifling defense will get them to at least the second round
LeTude: Sabres! Drew Stafford will dominate.
#3 Boston Bruins / #6 Montreal Canadiens
We are going to do a combined effort on this and just laugh the whole time. Seriously, this again? It's the 33rd time the two teams have played against each other in their Original Six years. So many times and so many rivalries.
This series has the potential to be bloody, messy and high-scoring. Actually, scratch that last word because it'll probably be a bunch of 1-0 games in double overtime or something ridiculous like that.
As you should know, one of our favorite jokes is the burning couches and riots that Habs fans held when they won against the Bruins and when they failed against the Bruins. Either way, it was a good time to be a non-Habs fan.
Habs fans are passionate and insane and we love them. Bruins fans are mouthy and crazy and we love them. We can't wait to watch these games.
X-Factor - Nathan Horton
Is he primary scoring or secondary? We don't know. But he's got to step it up in the play offs if the Bruins want to beat the Habs. Horton will be relied on to play on the power play and to score the goals that will out the final nail on the Habs coffin.
X-Factor - Carey Price
If the bitch that had eight shutouts and a .923 save percentage shows up then the Habs will be okay. If the bitch that played last season shows up then, well, say hello to khaki shorts and polo shirts.
Henrik: Bruins, this time around
Noodles: Bruins with an epic Carey Price meltdown ala 2009 because that was an amazing series
LeTude: Bruins because Tim Thomas has been on fire this season and his defense in front of his is amazing, and by defense we mean Chara
#4 Pittsburgh Penguins / #5 Tampa Bay Lightning
Ah, the Penguins. It is amazing how without Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin the Penguins play as a cohesive whole and get 106 points to clinch home-ice. As Penguins fans, we are extremely proud of this team.
One thing we are worried about is the letdown of getting into the play offs and then thinking that they don't have to play against the Lightning. The Bolts are a pretty dangerous team and the Pens have to play like they're desperate.
X-Factor - Tyler Kennedy and Jordan Staal
We picked both because the Penguins need TK to keep up this torrid pace of breaking personal records and scoring a will and they need the defensive prowess of Jordan Staal combined with his offensive skills.
The Lightning are a surprising mix of defense, offense and the trap. Guy Boucher says it's not the trap but we know the difference. We aren't stupid and we know what 1-2-2 or 1-3-1 or whatever you want to call it is so don't try to lie to us, Mister.
Goaltending has always been an issue for the Lightning since the departure of Nikolai Khabibulin but Bolts fans have their hopes riding on Dwayne Roloson. But which Roloson will show up: the forty-year-old man or the man who took the Oilers to the Finals in '06.
X-Factor - Vincent Lecavalier
He's been a scoring machine since Steve Stamkos had a little bit of a let down in the offensive side of life. We're scared of him and we don't want to see what he's capable of against the Penguins.
Henrik: Penguins, yet again, how dare you ask me that?
Noodles: Penguins because of James Neal (bold statement, I know)
LeTude: Penguins, can we honestly say who the goaltenders are in this series, Dwayne Roloson vs Marc-Andre Fleury, who are you picking?
Later on we will have the Western Conference previews and predictions up.
Let's get this on.