Friday, April 2, 2010

Western Conference Odds to win Stanley Cup

San Jose Sharks 5/1

It's no secret that playoffs have not been kind to San Jose in recent years. Last season the Sharks won the Presidents trophy for the best

record in the league and were knocked out by Anaheim in the first round. Perhaps Dany Heatley is the missing ingredient for playoff success, but the Sharks still seem to be weak on defense after Boyle, Murray, and Vlasic, and still depend too much on the Thornton line for offense. Evgeni Nabokov was not great in the playoff series for Anaheim and will need to be on his best game for the Sharks to go deep in the playoffs. Overall, we're not thrilled with the Sharks depth on the third and fourth lines, and also their second and third defense pairings.

Prediction: They are very strong at the Shark Tank and on talent alone should get by the first round and perhaps can make it to the Western Finals if they meet the right opponent. We still think the Sharks have holes, and have a hug obstacle mentally to get over the playoff letdowns of years past.

Chicago Blackhawks 3/1

The Blackhawks have struggled in the month of March posting a 6-7-2 record. Very young and skilled team that has one major hole. Goaltending. Cristobal Huet and Antti Niemi have solid numbers, but have struggled at times this season and still have to prove themselves in the playoffs. Niemi will probably be the guy and he does have seven shutouts this season, so he is capable. Offensively, Chicago is loaded with Kane, Toews, Sharp, Brouwer, Hossa, and Versteeg. They also have important role players such as John Madden, Ben Eager, Dustin Byfuglien, and Andrew Ladd. No team has more overall balance upfront and can skate like the Blackhawks. The defense is very solid, although the loss of Brian Campbell will hurt. It all comes down to if you trust their goaltending.

Prediction: Will be playing in the Western Conference finals.

Vancouver Canucks

This is the most impressive team I have seen this season in my opinion. The Sedin's have been brilliant this year. The Canucks are finally getting secondary scoring from players such as Mason Raymond, Ryan Kesler, and Alex Burrows. They are a physical team that is quick, and is big and solid on defense. Who would think that the biggest worry Canuck fans have is Roberto Luongo in goal? He has struggled since winning the gold medal for Canada, but should get it together by the playoffs.

Prediction: Western finals at least and could win the Cup.

Phoenix Coyotes

The Cinderella team of the NHL thus far, has two strengths that are key to winning the cup; Goaltending and defense. Phoenix has allowed the least amount of goals in the league thanks to Illya Bryzgalov in net who leads the NHL in shutouts. Head coach Dave Tippet has had playoff success with Dallas, and they also have veteran defensemen with playoff experience. Phoenix can role out four quality lines and is fast and scrappy.

Prediction: 30-1 seems very high for one of the hottest teams in the league. They have just as good of a chance as any team to reach the Stanley Cup because of their goaltending. May not be as talented as Chicago, Vancouver, San Jose and Detroit, but should advance to the 2nd round.

Nashville Predators

Barry Trotz is one of our favorite coaches as he has done a masterful job with the low budget Predators once again. This is another team that has tremendous defense and goaltending. Shea Weber is perhaps the most underrated defensemen in the league as well as Dan Hamhuis and Ryan Suter which form one of the leagues best defense. Pekka Rinne is on par with any of the goalies in the NHL but has never played in the playoffs. As usual they don't score often but do have a 30 goal scorer in Patric Hornqvist and solid veterans such as Jason Arnott, Steve Sullivan, and JP Dumont. They can skate with any team in the league and will out work teams also. Nashville may not be talented enough to go deep in the playoffs, but they will make things difficult for whoever their opponent is.

Prediction: Nashville impresses us every year, but it would be a surprise if they get past the first round.

Detroit Red Wings

The Red Wings are the leagues hottest team after the Olympic break posting a 13-2-1 record. Nobody wants to face the experienced Detroit Red Wings in the playoffs. Injuries were a key factor as to why they struggled most of the season. Unfortunately for the rest of league, players such as Johan Franzen, Valtteri Flippula, Tomas Holmstrom, Niklas Kronwall, and Dan Cleary, who were injured earlier this season are healthy and making immediate contributions. The MVP of the Red Wings has been goalie Jimmy Howard , who is a candidate for the Calder trophy and even the Vezina trophy. He has started every game since Jan. 27th and is among the league leaders in GAA, and save percentage. This team has won before, and is peaking at the right time.

Prediction: People will jumping on the Wings bandwagon as the wise guy pick. However, as great as Howard has been he is still unproven in the playoffs. Last season the Wings were on the verge of winning the Cup but should signs of fatigue against Pittsburgh in the finals. They are still a relatively old team, especially on defense. Depending on who they play, they could be out in the first round or make it to the second, but to us they are a notch below the leagues elite.

Los Angeles Kings

One of the dark horse teams on the verge of punching a ticket to the playoffs for the first time since 2002. Not the fastest team in the league, but excellent at cycling the puck in the other teams zone, and they have players such as Ryan Smyth, Dustin Brown, and Michal Handzus, who create havoc in front of the net and score the garbage goals which are needed in the playoffs. The Kings have a balanced attack on offense with seven players who have scored more than 15 goals thus far and are one of league's best on face offs. Defensively they are led by Drew Doughty who in his second year is being considered for the Norris trophy. They may be weak in their third defense pairing and goaltender Jonathan Quick, as well as most of the team, has never appeared in the playoffs. The Kings goal this season was to just make the playoffs as this team on the rise may be another year away from seriously contending for the Stanley Cup.

Prediction: They will be a tough out in the first round and could pull of an upset, but more than likely will be out in the first round.

Calgary Flames

Big win tonight over Colorado moves the Flames into a tie with the Avalanche for the 8th seed. Calgary's strength is defense and goaltending, but struggles so often scoring goals. The Flames don't have the depth offensively to be a serious threat, if they even make the playoffs. Miikka Kiprusoff is capable of stealing a game in the Calgary net, and they will play a physical game, but the lack of scoring makes it hard pressed for them to make any impact in the playoffs.

Prediction: Should they make the playoffs, they will be out in the first round.

Avalanche 35/1

The surprising Avalanche are in a freefall at the wrong time and are in danger of missing the playoffs. This is a very young team with tremendous upside for the future that would be thrilled just to make the postseason. Goalie Craig Anderson, who has been terrific most of the season is struggling like the rest of the team. Chris Stewart, Matt Duchene, and Paul Stasny, lead the Av's offense which is solid but isn't overly explosive. The Av's are relying on so many young players, it would be difficult for them to be a threat to anyone in the post season.

Prediction: Head coach Joe Sacco has done a tremendous job getting this team to where they are at. The Av's are headed in the right direction, but if they do make the playoffs they will be a quick out.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the breakdown guys.I disagree with a few predictions,but your analysis made sense.Great read.