Game 1 is tonight against the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils. Two teams I personally do not care for being an Islander Fan. When I decided to start an NHL blog, I realized I had to be unbiased with my opinions and predictions. Speak with my head rather than my heart. This is going to be a really fun series to watch. I will break down the entire series and give you my prediction of who will win the series. I wish I would have taken my predictions to a sportsbook because in the 2012 playoffs I have been wrong ONCE. The only team I thought would advance past the first round were the Boston Bruins. I did not think they would win the Cup for a second year in a row, in fact I hesitated and knew it was going to a game 7, but I ultimately thought that Tim Thomas would outplay Holtby. Every other series however, I have been spot on… Having said that… it might make this post seem a little more exciting.
Game 1 Advantage: The Rangers will have less than 48 hours of rest before facing the Devils, who have been off for close to a week after upending the Philadelphia Flyers in five games. Advantage:Rangers. Relax relax, I know you are thinking I am nuts, but hear me out. Yes the Devils are more rested than the Rangers but if you have ever played a sport you will understand why the Rangers have an advantage. Coming off an exciting adrenaline rushing game 7 at the Garden, the Rangers are pumped! Not only are they pumped, but the entire Madison Square Garden is going to be ROCKING. The New York Ranger fans whether they are lifelong fans, or your bandwagon, dust off your lady liberty jersey fan, are a frightening bunch. Call them obnoxious (I will), call them annoying (I will), but they are by far, the MVP of the playoffs. Fuhgeddaboud quieting these folks up. They are ready for the Devils.
(The King is pumped about my choice)
Forwards Advantage: Both teams have seen production from all four lines. For the Rangers, the top line of Carl Hagelin, Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik, need to be shut down if the Devils are considering just staying in the game. For the Devils, the biggest surprise has been the play of fourth-line grinders Ryan Carter, Stephen Gionta and Steve Bernier; they have accounted for five goals, 10 points and a plus-7 rating. Ilya Kovalchuk, who has advanced to a conference final for the first time in his career, is the co-leading scorer with five goals and is the team leader with 12 points and three power-play goals. It’s a toss up kiddies, but if I had to pick who has the advantage in offense, I have to go with the Rangers. The explanation being is their speed. When the Rangers have control of the puck in the opposing teams zone, they cycle with finesse. The Devils are a good cycling team as well but the speed in which the Rangers do it is not comparable.
(Brad likes that prediction.)
Defense Advantage: Both teams have a reliable group of guys who will sacrifice their bodies to block shots, and can quickly transition into offensive defensmen. Michael Del Zotto for the New York Rangers is playing more than 22 minutes per game and the most offensively gifted of the rest of the D-Men — he scored what proved to be the series-winning goal against Washington. The Devils have relied on their big three along the blue line in Marek Zidlicky, Andy Greene and Bryce Salvador. Defense in this series is mainly dependent on those two big guys in the net, but the advantage for defensive pairings will go to the Devils only because of the fact that they have a solid group of six defenseman. The Devils also average three to four goals a game so the pressure is not as high as it is for the Rangers. That being said, the Rangers will have the advantage if they can shut down the 5 on 5 play that they have been shaky on. Like I said before, the Devils have been averaging 3 – 4 goals a game so if the Rangers can shut that down early, then they will be fine.
(You hear that Marty? She chose us!)
Goaltending Advantage: We look at the potential Vezina Trophy winner Henrik Lundqvist and the 40 year old, defying all odds Martin Brodeur. Brodeur is a veteran and has been here before and knows what is expected, whereas Lundqvist has literaly had to stand on his head during all of these one goal games the Rangers have been playing. Brodeur has the offensive advantage with three asssists in the playoffs and is notorious for his urgency to get the puck to his forwards while the other team is clearing. Lundqvist has kept his cool in multiple overtime playoff games and heart stopping games that felt like the seconds couldn’t tick off faster. Advantage: If he continues to play like he has been… I have to go with Lundqvist for the simple fact that his team isn’t outscoring opponents by a wide margin so he has to constantly be on his game, which he has been. Brodeur is … well… he is Martin Brodeur… the guy is a brick wall and keeps acrobats in awe with his spinning kicks on his back. You think he is down and out of the play then BAM… here comes that mammoth leg pad. So given the fact that the Rangers have made it out alive in nail biters, kudos goes to the man with the perfect hair.
(I will wash my hair in the stanley cup)
Coaches: Peter DeBoer vs. Henry Winkler… Sorry… I mean John Tortarella. Short and sweet… advantage goes to Tortarella… just because he is such an arrogant asshole… and I envy that. The Islanders coach Jack Capuano needs to find some emotion like Torts has. DeBoer and his coaching staff have done amazing things with the team especially during the series with the Flyers, but I honestly think Tortarella would physically choke a player if they do not follow his game plan.
(Ayyyyyyyy, Yo Mrs. C… The Torts is rockin n rollin… whoa!)
Bottom Line: The series is not going to seven games… in fact… I don’t even think it will go to six. I am looking at a five game series with a 4-1 win by…. drum roll please…. The New York Rangers. They will face the Los Angeles Kings in the finals… where the Kings will carry the cup in a six games series win.