The 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs are upon us, and what a field it is. It doesn't contain the Dallas Stars, true, but we're (sadly) used to that (save us Jim Nill, you're our only hope) and we do like to watch the proceedings. After all, Stars or no Stars, it is by a wide margin the best post-season in sports. A very WIDE margin.
Here are some predictions, meant to be comical as things unfold. (That's what we tell ourselves anyway)
We invite your prognostications in the comments.
Brandon W: Perhaps the great Jonas Brodin can contain the Hawks all by himself. Perhaps not. Hawks in 5.
Josh: The Blackhawks are going to torch the mediocre Wild in 5
Erin: Minnesota has been circling the drain for a bit now, while this year's Hawks are, well, this year's Hawks. Not much more to be said about this one. Hawks in 4.
Taylor: The Blackhawks score an average of 3.10 goals per game to the Wild's 2.46 goals per game. Too many scoring threats for the Wild to contain. Hawks in 5.
Brandon B: The last time these two metropolitan areas took on each other in a playoff series was way back in 1991. As a young Hawks fan back then, it took me four years to fully get over what happened that spring. And unless Jon Casey and Brian Bellows circa 1991 walk through that door, I don't see a repeat for Minnesota hockey fans. Hawks in 5.
Ismael: I'll go with Chicago in 5. All the games will be close though, Minnesota will play a tight checking style while Parise will lead their offensive attack like he did all year. They'll deserve to win more than one game against the Hawks but in the end the tremendous skill throughout the Hawks lineup will previal.
Derek: The Hawks were the NHL's most dominant team all season and won the President's Trophy, so it's no surprise that they are the favorites here. Young, balanced, and highly-skilled, the Hawks are a team without any notable weaknesses that can beat you any way it wants to. Minnesota will need herculean efforts from big-ticket free agents Zach Parise and Ryan Suter if they want to stand any chance. Hawks in 5.
Huw: While the Wild stumbled over the playoff finishing line the Blackhawks have been consistently red hot throughout the season. Chicago is a juggernaut and the Wild will be their first victims. Hawks in 4
Brad: Signing ridiculous contracts doesn't win playoff series. You sign those kinds of deals when you're close to a championship. Not when you're (not really) close to a playoff berth. Talk about hubris.
Brandon W: I watched a hungry Red Wings team fight into the postseason, while I watched the Ducks luck their way in. Detroit in 6.
Josh: Give Mike Babcock a 7 game series to take care of a lucky team and he will. Wings in 5.
Erin: The Red Wings came through in the clutch against some mediocre opponents, but I still don't trust that defense or Jimmy Howard behind it. Anaheim's been riding a bubble all year, but I don't think it pops until next round. Ducks in 6.
Taylor: These two teams seem to be evenly matched up, but I think Anaheim squeaks by (but barely.) Ducks in 6.
Brandon B: The Ducks have gotten by on sheer PDO it seems. And because of that, it wouldn't surprise me in the least if they lost this series. Red Wings in 6.
Ismael: Anaheim in 6. I'm pretty sure they have a younger, more physical roster. The Red Wings barely made the playoffs and while the Ducks didn't play as well down the Stretch they still have a lot of skill and size up front, solid D, and good goaltending. I think Cam Fowler and Bobby Ryan will be the X-factors in the series. If they can play well, the Ducks shouldn't have too much trouble.
Derek: Don't let playoff seeding fool you, as this series will be closer than a normal 2nd seed vs 7th seed. The Ducks exceeded all expectations in the regular season, but outside of core players like Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan, most guys are a little too old or a little too young to be real series-changers. Despite their 7th place finish, the Red Wings are always dangerous, and they come into the series red-hot. Wings in 6.
Huw: The Red Wings are always tough costumers and despite the Ducks led in the standings there has always been a certain amount of short season induced luck behind their success. Red Wings in 7.
Brad: Toughest series of the first round in either conference. Pedigree vs a lucky year. Fasth is the X-factor, and most legit part of the Ducks. Selanne desire to end on a high as well. Give me Ducks in 7, gun to my head. Wings work hard but are fading.
(#3) Unbearable Likeness Of Sedins vs (#6) Perrennial Underachievers Who Sometimes Get Things Lodged In Throats Upon Spring Time
Brandon W: My plan is to not watch a minute of this series. Canucks in 6.
Josh: Common sense tells me to pick San Jose. My opinions of the Sharks tell me to take Vancouver. Canucks in 7 because I hate the Sharks.
Erin: Which team can use its forwards to run more pick plays? The Schneider mystery injury throws a wrench into this one, but the Sharks are a team on the decline. Vancouver in 6.
Taylor: San Jose has the hotter goaltender and Vancouver hasn't been as dominant this season as years past. Both teams have a habit of underwhelming in the playoffs. Canucks in 7.
Brandon B: If ever a playoff series was a coin flip of a series, this is it. No really, I'm flipping a coin to make my pick on this one. And it comes up....Sharks in 7.
Ismael: San Jose- San Jose in 6. Antti Niemi has been dynamite all year and we all know what he can do in the playoffs if he gets hot. On the other side Schneider will be coming back from injury and they may even have to start Luongo at the beginning. Plus the Canucks have been inconsistent all year and the Sharks have shown how dominant they can be down the stretch.
Derek: While they never fail to put up points, the Vancouver Canucks have been shaky in the playoffs the last few years, even including their 2011 Stanley Cup Finals appearance. They have a team that is still under a mountain of pressure, which could easily cause them another first round exit like was seen last year. Speaking of pressure, the constantly-disappointing San Jose Sharks no longer have the pressure of being considered a top contender, and might feed off of some newfound momentum as the underdog. Sharks in 7.
Huw: Both these teams have suffered from playoff problems over the course of their existence. Its going to be a hard slog but I think the Canucks take the series. Canucks in 6.
Brad: A plague upon the both of them. I'll bet on the yearly capitulation of the gups and guess Vancouver in 7.
(#4) St. Louis Blues vs (#5) Synchronized Diving Browns
Brandon W: The Blues are headed to another first round disappointment. Kings in 6.
Josh: St. Louis is a real good team being dealt some sour luck with this match up. The Kings will roll in 5.
Erin: More than the other three, this series will come down to which versions of the team's respective goalies show up. Quick was masterful last year and the biggest part of why LA just rolled through the playoffs. The Blues struggled in that area early but came around late. I think this one goes the distance. LA in 7.
Taylor: The Kings have a lot of their Stanley Cup roster still, and they've been here before. Kings in 5.
Brandon B: All haters of the Kings are going to collectively say, "Oh, here we go, again" with this squad. Kings in 5.
Ismael: St. Louis in 7. I think they have finally woken up and the acquisition of JayBo has helped their D. Elliot will play well, Perron, Oshie, and Berglund will lead the way while the whole team plays its usual tight checking hard hitting style. The LA kings offense is too anemic and I don't think Quick can replicate what he did last year. If the Blues can find a way to shut down Jeff Carter a bit then they will be able to beat the Kings.
Derek: For years the Blues have been slowly and steadily building their roster into a contender, and are very close to the verge of a breakout postseason after making the Western semi-finals last year. The big question is which version of the enigmatic Brian Elliott shows up for them in net. The Kings started 2013 with a whimper, but the defending-champs know what it takes to win, and head into the playoffs on a strong note. The Kings team, full of grit and leadership, is built for playoff hockey, and that will likely give them the edge versus the Blues. Kings in 6.
Huw: The Stanley Cup Champions face a Hitchcock defense team in the Blues. Despite defensive teams success in the regular season the post season is generally a different kettle of fish. The reigning champions will get over this obstacle without much trouble. LA in 5.
Brad: Kings are too much. Should be physical. Puck possession wins out, though. Kings in 6.