With several key DobberHockey members out of office, I had the opportunity to "John Gibson" my way into the rotating line up. Let's get started.
When I look back at the second round, I think about the article by Sean McIndoe where he showcased the idea of a repeat final four. At the time of release, it was hard to argue that possibility, since Pittsburgh was up three games to one, while both Los Angeles and Chicago were up two to none in their respective series. The only bracket that appeared up in the air was Boston/Montreal, when the Habs were up a game after three.
With the above in mind, how many of you were ready to make it rain? Well, shucks! That is the beauty of playoff hockey, folks. Eventually, every series tied up, with three of them pushing game seven. Both Eastern teams moved on, upsetting their respective opponents. Chicago held their ground, and we await the verdict in California.
With round three upon us, both of my DobberHockey panel picks are still present, therefore I guess should advocate those picks… who am I kidding? Of course I am going to back those picks!
To be clear, I participated in two playoff brackets and somehow managed to put my eggs in the same Western basket – the Chicago Blackhawks. From the start, I felt that the winner between St. Louis and Chicago would be the team representing the West in the Stanley Cup Final. I struggled with this match-up. I could have easily hedged my bets, selecting one of each to go the distance in either pool. Stubborn as I am, I decided to lock in the defending Blackhawks on the fact that St. Louis was not only coming in hurt, but also entering the playoffs on a nasty losing streak. Thankfully, it has worked in my favor thus far. As seen in the round two upsets above, however, there is still one final Western opponent before the big dance. I do not want to get caught chirping early, so knock on wood!
The East was a crapshoot with most of the opposition flocking towards Boston. Why shouldn't they? It was a sexy pick. But, I preferred to play the odds.
For DobberHockey, I selected Montreal to meet Chicago. Why? Under the assumption that Carey Price would pull off a Jonathan Toews circa 2010 and receive the Gold medal/Conn Smyth duo (or perhaps even a Stanley Cup trio!). Beyond that silly stance, I felt that 1) they were fully able to beat Tampa without Ben Bishop, 2) If any team could, the history against Boston would work in Montreal's favour, and 3) the momentum gained against Boston would eventually carry the Habs past the team representing the Metropolitan Division in the Eastern Conference Final (now known to be the Rangers).
Despite my confidence in Montreal, I chose an underdog in the Eastern conference for my work bracket. There was an abundance of Boston, Pittsburgh and Montreal selections among my coworkers, leaving the Rangers out in the cold. Therefore, the Blue Shirts were free game (zero support). I couldn't resist. Who doesn't enjoy a nice risk/reward option? While I still picked Chicago to win it all, I have that Rangers runner up trump card in my back pocket. Since this pool has the potential to net me some coin, I am not opposed to a Big Apple win.
Thoughts on the Eastern Conference Final?
Staying true to my gut pick, I am going with the Habs to come out on top. From Tuukka Rask to Henrik Lundqvist, it will be another elite goaltender showdown. Both teams match up well on paper, especially with the goals-by-committee approach. The X-factors will come in the form of Rick Nash (will he finally show up?) or a nice breakout performance by Max Pacioretty. Also, a little more help from Andrei Markov would go a long way as well. Since New York has a habit of going to seven games, why break that trend?
Habs in seven. Price beats out Lundqvist to a montage of the Gold medal game in Sochi.
Damn, that Olympic flashback made me feel a little nostalgic. What better way to quench that feeling, than by throwing down a classic Studs and Duds!