Hanzal. He's so hot right now.
Since the Blues clinched the Central Division, I’ve been thinking of all potential first round matchups. Nashville coach Barry Trotz once said that looking at the standings at this time of year is pointless. After all, that would require taking his eyes off the Waffle House menu long enough to check the standings, and that obviously isn’t happening.
But another reason checking the standings is pointless? The bottom 6 seeds in the West are more wide open than Jon Casey’s five hole. A lot of shuffling can still happen. This uncertainty means I can’t start making fun of whatever city/team/fan base we’ll be opposing in the first round until the last game of the season.
So, instead of waiting that long, I thought I’d simply cover all my bases and berate…I mean, analyze all potential first round matchups.
Matchups are ranked in likely order of finish. We’re assuming the Hawks, Preds and Wings are too far ahead for any incompetent bottom feeder teams to catch. For each team, I have included a prognosis and fake analysis from American patriot/dog rescuer David Backes.
The Kings are a scary draw for the Blues. Every game against the Kings would be close, and the cardiac effect would likely take years off my life. I’m rooting for the Kings to win the Pacific Division so they have to face Chicago in the first round. The Pacific is so crappy that any other opponent would practically be a first round bye for the Hawks, who are praying to God they stay in 6th to avoid Nashville and Detroit. If the Hawks only play 4 games, do you know how much free time that leaves them? They could ride around shirtless in a limo with numerous unattractive women. Or crash their jacked out car into multiple poles. We can’t allow this to happen. Please win the Pacific, Los Angeles, for the safety of cab drivers everywhere.
Prognosis: Not good. This is the last team of the bunch I want to see.
Captain’s take: "Kings are un-American. I will destroy your feifdom."
The Blues dominated the Sharks all year. Ever see the special on Shark Week where a shark gets beat up by a fucking dolphin? Me neither. I completely made it up to illustrate my point that sharks are wuss bags who get beat up by dolphins.
Prognosis: Fantastic. Man, I want to play the Sharks. Yeah, we destroyed them in the regular season series, but if there was ever a team that could outchoke the Blues in a playoff series, it’s Patrick Marleau and the San Jose Sharks.
Captain’s take: "I once rescued a litter of puppies from shark infested waters."
Dave Tippet has done such a phenomenal job leading the Nordiques to respectability. Quebec is building a $500 million hockey arena, and the Nords are out to prove they are worth the investment. Mike Smith has had a phenomenal year, and Keith Yandle is a really good d-man (according to all the experts who check the boxscore on the game because they fell asleep during the West Coast games.)
Prognosis: If this is the Blues first round opponent, I’m going to the dollar store to buy one of those little toy brooms.
Captain’s take: "So, where are these Coyotes that were stranded in the desert? I literally flew in some extra kennels to bring them home."
The Stars are overall pretty boring to watch. Even fans in Dallas agree, as evident by the number of people in the stands. Kari Lehtonen is very good until he pulls a groin…so by Game 3, he’ll be out of the equation. His backup is Richard Backman, who is best known for sharing Steven King’s pen name.
Prognosis: Good. We can beat the Stars.
Captain’s Take: "The Stars’ chances of beating us are equal to the odds of Michael Vick hosting a "David’s Dogs" charity event."
Another scary draw for the Blues. The Avs always have played the Blues tight, even before The Trade that swapped promising, young defenseman and third line forwards. This season, because of the stupid overtime point, the Blues are 2-1-1 against the Avs, and the Avs are 2-1-1 against the Blues. The Avs could still make the playoffs, in the sense that a few teams ahead of the Avalanche could be quarantined for 3 months with some infectious disease, preventing them from playing in the playoffs. But I still pray the Avalanche don’t make it, because this is exactly the unsuspecting team that could fire a GWG from center ice in Game 7.
Prognosis: Guarded. Cautious, but we should win, right?
Captain’s take: "One time, I stopped an avalanche by giving it the evil eye."
To the surprise of no one (besides GM Jay Feaster), the Flames will not be in the playoffs. I had a whole paragraph planned out for the Flames, but they're so bad, they were eliminated by the time I finished writing the last sentence.
I included them to point out that Ken Hitchcock got this sorry group of bastards into the playoffs three years ago. Screw the Jack Addams. We should see if he can turn water into wine.