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Rocket's Red Glare: Sizing up the NHL playoffs as they stand

Posted by: Michael Rand under Sports Updated: May 5, 2011 - 12:53 PM

Commenter Rocket writes about hockey every week because often we forget to. Rocket?

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In my first round playoff preview I went 8 for 8 on the series winners. Unfortunately, the second round started at an awkward time for this guest post and I was not able to impart my wisdom and clairvoyance in time for those headed to Vegas. As the dedicated “hockey guest poster” it felt like a blatant derogation of my duties.
 
It is under trying circumstances like these that Stu would curl up in the fetal position and listen to Automatic for the People over and over until there were no more tears left. Luckily, I do not have Stu’s mealy constitution, and I decided to turn lemons into a short-term deodorant. Rather than predict who will win a bunch of series that are half over, I will take a snapshot of the playoffs right now and offer the likelihood of each of the remaining teams winning the Cup. They are in order of least to most likely.
 
Washington Capitals
Current Position: Swept 0-4 by the Lightning.
 
Brief Comment: This is a team built for the regular season. Even with their supposed newfound emphasis on defense this year they just do not have the commitment in their own zone or mental makeup to handle the expectations they built by feasting on a bad division in the lesser conference.
 
Likelihood of winning it all: The same as Alex Ovechkin NOT spending the off-season romancing Miss Ukraine while driving 120 on an open stretch of Russian highway.
 
Philadelphia Flyers
Current Position: Down 0-3 to the Bruins.
 
Brief Comment: The Philly faithful undoubtedly are clinging to memories of last year when they became only the third NHL team to come back from an 0-3 series deficit, against this very same team no less. But last year Chris Pronger was healthy and Boston’s goaltending situation was just as shaky as Philly’s.
 
Likelihood of winning it all: About the same as Miss Ukraine returning my increasingly desperate phone calls, emails, and candygrams.
 
Detroit Red Wings
Current Position: Down 0-3 to the Sharks.
 
Brief Comment: Like an aging yet otherwise excellent actress who is miscast as an inexperienced young thing, the Red Wings are now reaching for something they once were. They are still very good, but they cannot keep playing the role of champion any longer.
 
Likelihood of winning it all: About the same as Rockette NOT asking me a bunch of huffy questions about the above Miss Ukraine statement and then staying secretly, and sometimes not-so-secretly, mad at me for the next three weeks or so.
 
Nashville Predators
Current Position: Down 1-2 to the Canucks.
 
Brief Comment: The more I watch this team the more I like them. They fit the Cinderella archetype more than any other team in the playoffs. After all, the most famous member of their organization has to be Carrie Underwood. Still, despite having a collection of nobodies, playing in a non-traditional market, and being forced to wear some seriously hideous jerseys they are consistently successful. Unfortunately, Cinderella pretty much never gets her name engraved on the Cup.
 
Likelihood of winning it all: About the same as me buying a Carrie Underwood album.
 
San Jose Sharks
Current Position: Up 3-0 on the Red Wings.
 
Brief Comment: The Sharks have long held the reputation for being playoff chokers. However, last year they made it to the conference finals. This year, despite playing poorly for the first third or so of the regular season, they look like they’ve pulled it together. If it weren’t for the fact that Vancouver is just a bit better than the Sharks at everything the Sharks do well then I would really like this team.
 
Likelihood of winning it all: Dallas, Tampa, Carolina, and Anaheim all won Cups and, by all news accounts, perdition continues to remain unfrozen. So, I guess it would not completely surprise me.
 
Boston Bruins
Current Position: Up 3-0 on the Flyers.
 
Brief Comment: Since the Red Sox chemically enhanced their way to a couple of recent World Series titles, the Bruins have supplanted them as the Boston team that has been good but not good enough. This year might be different, since Tim Thomas has had a phenomenal season. But the occasional baffling defensive collapse and the negative karma produced by Boston’s inability to handle a decade’s worth of sports success with grace and dignity mean that this probably is not their year.
 
Likelihood of winning it all: If the sports gods were just then the Bruins would not be hoisting the Cup this year. But as we all know, sometimes the sports gods are just and sometimes…
 
Tampa Bay Lightning
Current Position: Swept the Capitals.
 
Brief Comment: Remember when the Minnesota Wild had Dwayne Roloson? Remember that he was pretty good and even made an all-star game but nobody seemed to shed too many tears when he was traded to the Oilers? Well, since then Roloson led the Oilers to the Cup finals and is now looking like the final piece to a team that was already loaded with tremendous talent. Meanwhile the Wild first hitched their wagon to Manny Fernandez and then tied up a lot of cap space in Niklas Backstrom.
 
Likelihood of winning it all: About the same as a Viking getting arrested sometime in the next week.
 
Vancouver Canucks
Current Position: Up 2-1 on the Predators.
 
Brief Comment: If there was a question with this team entering into the playoffs it had to be their mental toughness. The talent is obvious, but collectively these players have won next to nothing in the NHL. While many have pointed out that Roberto Luongo backstopped Team Canada to a gold medal in the last Olympics, anybody who watched that tournament knows he was OK but more or less went along for the ride. Winning game 7 against Chicago in overtime, after nearly blowing a 3-0 series advantage and giving up a shorthanded goal to tie the game very late in the third period, was the final major hurdle they had to overcome. This team has finally shown the necessary toughness.
 
Likelihood of winning it all: About the same as you having already looked up a picture of Miss Ukraine.
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