09 April 2007

Minnesota Wild and the Stanley Cup Playoffs

UPDATE: James Mirtle is a genius, and he makes me feel much better about my picks (see below).

The Wild have qualified for the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time since 2003, and they will open against the very team that defeated them lo those many years ago, the Anaheim (no longer Mighty) Ducks.

The two teams finished with very similar records (both with 48 wins), the difference being Minnesota fared better in OT and shootouts. Anaheim extended more of their losses to overtime than Minnesota and so finished with 110 points to Minnesota's 104. Eliminating shootouts (and converting them to ties) gives Anaheim-44-24-14 (102) and Minnesota-38-27-17 (93).

All of this appears to favor Anaheim in this series, but I like the Wild's chances. Since Gaborik came back from his injury, the Wild have been one of the best, if not the best team in the conference. I assume Gaborik made the postseason roster, so with him on board, I expect the Wild team to pack a lot more scoring punch than the last playoff series they played (1 goal in 4 games). This is a team that had five 20 goal scorers (and Parrish had 19). This is by far the most the Wild have ever had, the most in a previous season was two. With that scoring punch and a plethora of options in net, the Wild are definitely capable of winning this series.

The bold prediction of your fearless narrator: Wild in 6 (you're shocked, I know).

The other matchups are as follows (my picks in parentheses):

Eastern Conference:

(1)-Buffalo + (8)-NY Islanders (Buffalo in 5)
(2)-New Jersey + (7)-Tampa Bay (New Jersey in 4)
(3)-Atlanta + (6)-NY Rangers (New York in 6)
(4)-Ottawa + (5)-Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh in 7)

Western Conference:
(1)-Detroit + (8)-Calgary (Calgary in 6)
(2)-Anaheim + (7)-Minnesota (Minnesota in 6)
(3)-Vancouver + (6)-Dallas (Dallas in 5)
(4)-Nashville + (5)-San Jose (Nashville in 5)

I have Buffalo beating Pittsburgh and Minnesota over Calgary in the conference finals. And, what the hell, clearly I'm letting my heart make these predictions, so we'll take Minnesota in 6 to win the Stanley Cup.

Go Wild, and thanks for reading.

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