Saturday, April 28, 2012

Stanley Cup Preview: Blues vs. Kings*

Both these teams took care of business in the first round in 5 games. The Blues disposed of the Sharks. The Kings eliminated the Canucks. So the Blues and Kings knocked out a pair of perennial playoff chokers. What's the big deal?

Well both teams have outstanding goaltending. Jonathan Quick had a .953 SV% against Vancouver. The Blues have Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott. Halak's ankle is still hurt, so Elliott will start in net for St. Louis. Both teams also have lines capable of shutting down an opponents' top line.

So yeah, there probably won't be much scoring in this series.

So where will the difference be? Maybe the Power Play. The Blues did well against San Jose in this department. While LA struggled against the Canucks. LA has the ability to prevent goals. But they aren't explosive enough to pull ahead in 2-1 or 3-2 games. The Blues are. And I think the Blues are just slightly tougher and will gut out a tough series.

Blues in 8 (because there will be 7 games plus a few OTs).

Series schedule:
1: Saturday 4/28 - 7:30pm - LAK @ STL - NBC Sports
2: Monday 4/30 - 9:00pm - LAK @ STL - CNBC
3: Thursday 5/3 - 10:00pm - STL @ LAK - NBC Sports
4: Sunday 5/6 - 3:00pm - STL @ LAK - NBC
5: Tuesday 5/8 - tba - LAK @ STL - CNBC
6: Thursday 5/10 - tba - STL @ LAK - tba
7: Saturday 5/12 - tba - LAK @ STL - tba

Stanley Cup Preview: Rangers vs. Capitals*

The Capitals beat last year's Champs, a defensive minded team that tried to grind opponents down. The Rangers are a defensive minded team that tries to grind opponents down. So why won't Washington win? Because Henrik Lundqvist is playing out of his mind (1.70 GAA in first round). Because the Rangers have guys like Brad Richards, Ryan Callahan, and Marian Gaborik. And unlike the Bruins, their top players are playing like their top players.

I'm not sold on Braden Holtby. He's good. He's sound. But I think he struggles to smother loose pucks. The Rangers will take advantage of this. The Rangers also scored 5 times on the Power Play against Ottawa.

The Caps played to their maximum potential against the Bruins. But if the B's had done likewise, they would have beaten them in 5 or 6 games. The Rangers are hungry. They're more fundamentally sound than the Bruins, their goaltending is better, their scorers are scoring.

Rangers in 6.

Series schedule:
1: Saturday 4/28 - 3:00pm - WSH @ NYR - NBC
2: Monday 4/30 - 7:30pm - WSH @ NYR - NBC Sports
3: Wednesday 5/2 - 7:30pm - NYR @ WSH - NBC Sports
4: Saturday 5/5 - 12:00pm - NYR @ WSH - NBC
5: Monday 5/7 - 7:30pm - WSH @ NYR - NBC Sports
6: Wednesday 5/9 - tba - NYR @ WSH - tba
7: Saturday 5/12 - tba - WSH @ NYR - tba