Tuesday, April 10, 2007

2007 Playoff Predictions: Minnesota v. Anaheim

Minnesota v. Ducks

If this was a Jeopardy category, my best bet would to be to pull a Claven and respond "Who are two teams I really haven't seen play this season."

Anaheim certainly has the name factor in this series, including the best known 1 - 2 D in hockey (unless that category is overpaid stiffs, where the answer is of course "Who is Toronto?") and could conceivably have one of Pronger or Niedermayer on the ice at all times. But I think the name Lemaire is the one that casts the biggest shadow over this match-up...

Minnesota has the ninth best winning percentage when scoring first, that jumps up to 6th when leading after 1 and they first overall when leading after 2.

This team does not cough up a lead.

On the other side of the ice is a well balanced team with scoring depth that can hurt you on the PP.

It just might come down to Anaheim's 3rd best PP and Selanne's league leading 25 PP goals against the Wild's 2nd best PK (this will be important as the Wild are the 4th most penalized team in the NHL)

If Minnesota can get on the board against the Ducks first, I really like their odds in this match-up, especially if Gaborik is actually healthy.

I think this one has the potential to go seven and could go either way, but if I've got to call it one way or the other I'm going to go with the seeding and not the sleeper- call it Ducks in seven.

The playoffs are all about the beards and George Parros' mustache just might be the deciding factor in the series.

OK, first, how can anyone mention ANYTHING about the Ducks without going on a mini-rant about how ugly their new uniforms are? They look like those Chinese knockoffs of real hockey sweaters they used to sell in the hardware store in my isolated home town in northern British Columbia (You know, the ones with the slogans like "Team Fight Spirit: Hard Work Victory Club")

I have to agree with Mike on the Parros hair comment...dude looks like he just stepped off the set of a pirate-themed porn movie...

As for the hockey series (oh yeah, that...) I like the Ducks, if only because I'd like to think that we're OWED some manner of attractive hockey this time of year. Granted, Jacques Lemaire is probably the best coach in the NHL, he teams are better prepared, more disciplined and more defensively responsible than their opponents nine times out of ten and in this series they'll likely have the better goalie as well...but, as a hockey fan, do you really WANT to watch three more weeks of the Minnesota Wild clogging up the neutral zone?

Me neither.

Ducks in seven.

Well if we're going to focus on just how awful the new uniforms are, I thinkit's only fair you consider them an improvement to what they used to be. I mean raise your hand if you never ever want to see Chris Pronger lumbering around the ice in teal and purple with Disney characters plastered all over him. Really now. (Then again, if keeping the old uniforms would have meant getting to hear Ilya Bryzgalov teach us the history of every animated Disney duck, all of whom are on his old mask, in broken english, that had me convinced he had to do research just to finish the interview again, I'd be sold - it's really too bad whoever youtubed that interview took it down.)

Anyway, Minnesota's held up as a strong, patient, stable team...but nothing particularly stands out as spectacular, either. The Ducks have done nothing all season but show off all their strong points, Selanne, the Pronger/Niedermayer combo, two capable goalies... I think Minnesota will put up a fight but ultimately Anaheim has the bigger guns. I can only hope that Parros' mustache and whatever comes of it inspires the team with regard to their playing (if it spreads in aesthetically I might not be able to get through a game).

One team boring me to tears and the other making me cringe every time I look at their faces...I'm going to say the Ducks can pull it off in 6.

My hockey team actually paid the league registration fee in full and on time this year. In all my years of hockey, I've never seen this happen (most years the convener starts coming into the room in December pestering the team captains for the outstanding balance and all of the guys have to eventually cough up an extra $20 each in March to cover the rest of the fees).

To thank us, the league bought our team a full set of jerseys with a new logos and numbers. Any colour scheme we wanted. We voted for Coyote home jerseys - the dark red ones.

About three weeks into the season, the new jerseys and socks arrive. Oops. Somehow we ended up with Mighty Ducks dark purple and green outfits. Goes nice with our teams bright orange logo. It is hands down the ugliest jersey I have ever seen. If only I had green pants to go with it.

Actually, as sad as the old Anaheim jerseys were (and they were sad), I'd take em over the new ones. Then again, in a race between "Baldfaced attempt to appeal to cartoon-loving pre-teens" and "colour-blind and aesthetically retarded attempt to prove that we're now a serious team for, like, grownups and stuff" the REAL loser is the hockey-loving fan. But no matter.

Would have LOVED to hear the Bryz-terview. Comedy GOLD!

I'll give you that - as awful as the old ones were, I'm certainly not advocating these either. But at least they represent some sort of mild attempt at dignity, if nothing else? (Attempt being very much the keyword.)The interview really was golden, it's a giant shame it's not floating around anymore. "I don't know what this is....I'm not order this. Just....duck!"

Since all of you Eastern fellas were probably sleeping anytime a Wild or Ducks game was on TV, I will to try to fill in the blanks for you guys about these two teams.

First of all, these are the two toughest teams in the league. It will be interesting to see how much Parros - can you believe he went to Princeton? - and Boogaard - I think he went to Prince Albert ...Penitentiary - will play. BTW - Boogaard is the real cave man of this league. He hurts people. I can see a brawl happening at the end of one of these games if one team has a big lead.

Anaheim was the best team in the league for the first half of the year then Pronger got hurt a couple of times (you can see how valuable he is- too bad he couldn't keep his pecker in his pants in Edmonton, actually it is pretty interesting how infidelity has broken up the Oilers twice in the last five years - first Comrie, then Pronger ... but I digress).

Anyways, Anaheim seems to have taken their foot off the gas a bit over the past couple months which I like because we have all seen teams go hard all year and then tank in the playoffs - ie. the Senators, right Keith?

They certainly have all the tools to go for a long run; however, this is not the same Minnesota team from before the lockout. They have probably adapted better to the new NHL than any other team and they do have some goal scorers - Gaborik, Parrish, Demitra, Rolston.

This team got real good when Gaborik returned ...plus Backstrom has been super in net... though back to back shut outs against the AHL Oilers should not count. I really wish these two teams did not meet up in the first round because I like both of them. Plus if the Ducks make the Conference finals the Oilers get the Ducks 1st round pick next year too - Yahooo!!

I think if Backstrom stays hot the Wild have a real chance so I am going out on the limb here with an Upset Special! Wild in 7

That crack at Boogaard had me choking on my coffee. Hey, can we start taking bets on which little Duckling he knocks out of the lineup first an dhow long it'll take? I mean he's going to have to find someone other than Hemsky to pick on, now, after all...

My money on Andy MacDonald. He certainly did not have a problem going after the skill? players on the Oilers - Hemsky twice and Reasoner. Too bad we didn't have Laraque around to settle the score like he did for Phoenix earlier this year.

BTW - isn't it funny how a players career can be such a roller coaster. The Oilers couldn't get rid of Ty Conklin and Laraque fast enough last summer and now both of them are on strong playoff teams this Spring in Buffalo and Pittsburgh.

I hear you Rick, I still can't believe Gary Leeman won the Cup (as a healthy scratch, but still...) with the Habs in '93.

And Conklin looked brutal against Philly on Sunday, I don't know how long he'll be able to hold on in Buffalo...

Ah yes - Gary Leeman, another example of infidelity breaking up a team.I think both of our teams are cursed!

Your team may be cursed, but I'm doubtful they'd be goofy enough to have a reunion in 2029 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Oilers' last cup win.

Nothing like recognizing 40 years of futility in front of a national TV audience...

I thought that was just an excuse to mend fences with Dave Keon!! TheOilers were certainly mesmerized that night...

If Ty Conklin lifts the cup this year I will never stop laughing. Ever. It might be slightly hysterical (though that could probably be attributed to my sheer horror at Buffalo taking the cup in general), a little bitter, vaguely pained, and mostly full of shock...but just how priceless would that be. It is funny how his year ended up though - from the Oilers after that debacle last season, to the Blue Jackets, who didn't even want him after preseason and tossed him down to their AHL affiliate - and now up to the President's Trophy winners? Wow.

Coffee Cup: Minnesota in 6

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