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Predictions for the first round of the playoffs

By Sean Gallagher

On the message board there is a bit of a "pick 'em" for the playoffs contest going on, but I thought I'd put my "knowledge" on the line and put mine on the front page. Even worse for me, I'm going to go head-to-head with a six year old, the Son of GT.

I already know he's always taking the Sabres, since I found out last year that he likes them because he thinks it's cool that a team named their hockey club after Star Wars' Lightsabers. But I thought it'd be interesting to get his picks and see if I know anything or if I can be destroyed by a pint-sized hockey fan in a Brett Hull jersey.

Anyway, on to the picks. Using the Reverse East Coast Bias, we start in the Western Conference:

(1) Detroit Red Wings vs (8) Calgary Flames

My pick: Can't take the evil empire ever, so it's gotta be the Flames in 6. I bet Datsyuk fails to show up again and I bet the fans pin the upset loss on the goaltending. Again.

Whatever happens in this series, I'll have to take your word for it, because I can't stand to watch even one game of Red Wings hockey.

SoGT pick: Not Detroit. Calgary in 7, probably. Just not Detroit. [See what we do to our children? Already indoctrinated.]

(2) Anaheim Ducks vs (7) Minnesota Wild

My pick: Too much Pronger and Niedermeyer, too much Giguere, too much Selanne and Macdonald. Too, too much. Ducks send the Wild home looking for the plural of "wild" after 6 games.

SoGT pick: Ducks in 6 because they're the better team. [Hard to argue with that.]

(3) Vancouver Canucks vs (6) Dallas Stars

My pick: I have this nagging throught that I should be taking the more experienced Stars, but I just can't get past the Roberto Luongo factor. When the Canucks were struggling, Luongo publicly said that the team was going to the playoffs. He put that team on his back and they won the uber-tough Northwest Division. Luongos in 7.

SoGT pick: Stars because I don't know. In 8 games. [Hurm. An interesting pick for a couple reasons.]

(4) Nashville Predators vs (5) San Jose Sharks

My pick: Nashville has a lot going for them but every time I see the Sharks I'm impressed by them. Plus, I hope they go all the way to the finals so that Jess Knaster, who we wrote about in Game Time because he went to every Sharks game this season, road and home, will have a great story. Then he can write a book, include a tiny paragraph about Game Time, and I can gloat about being in a book for the rest of my life.

Hey, I never said my goals were lofty. Or that my playoff picks were rational. Sharks in 6.

SoGT pick: Sharks in about 6 games. Because of Bill Guerin, my third favorite Blues player after Brett Hull and Bernie Federko. [Hard to argue with HoF guys at the top of his list, but he may end up changing the order of some of his other Blues as the years go on...]

In the East:

(1) Buffalo Lightsabers vs (8)New York Islanders.

My pick: Buffalo and the high-octane offense and great goaltending crush the Isles in just 4 games.

SoGT pick: Sabres. I think they're going to win in 7 games and I think they're going to win the Stanley Cup.

(2) New Jersey Devils vs (7) Tampa Bay Lightning

My pick: Marty Brodeur and about 400 soft-focus puff pieces about him during intermissions knock off the streaky 'Ning in 6 games. Tampa Bay has had goaltending issues for years now. Welcome to our world. At least no one ever shortens our team nickname to something stupid like the 'Ues.

'Ning. Please.

SoGT: Tampa Bay Lightning in probably 5 games. [You can tell that we don't see a lot of Devils games over at the opulent GTHQ, can't you?]

(3) Atlanta Thrashers vs (6) New York Rangers

My pick: Keith Tkachuk is destined to have a huge playoff this summer only to twist the knife in the back of Blues fans who have been waiting for a breakout playoff from him for years now. This also ensures that the Blues will overpay him to bring him back this summer and then be handcuffed to him for three more years where he never repeats his feats as a Thrasher. Thrash in 6.

SoGT: THRASHERS! And I think they're going to win in 4 games. Because of Keith Tkachuk, because he is fourth on my list of favorite Blues players after Bill Guerin.

[Just to close this list out, Son of GT's 5th favorite Blues player is Ryan Johnson. The list goes on for like four to six more players, but his top five are HoF player, HoF player, 61 career games as a Blue, career underachiever in Bluenote, grinder. This makes more sense when you realize he met Federko, Guerin and Johnson this year, saw all the Brett Hull highlights this year because of the jersey retirement and Tkachuk scores like a monster on Playstation 2.]

(4) Ottawa Senators vs (5) Pittsburgh Penguins

My pick: Picking with my head and not my heart, I have to take Ottawa in 6 games. I'd much prefer to see the high-flying Penguins (wait, penguins can't fly, right? Or is that just turkeys?) advance through the playoff rounds, but their defense is non-existant and their goalie is prone to some youthful mistakes still. Such a great team, but I think they're just too young, even with 400-year-old gary Roberts still scoring big goals.

SoGT: Pittsburgh in 6 games. When are we going to pick the Blues?

[Next year, son. Next year.]