…but I was wrong.
It has been right about 6½ months since I last put a blog entry on this platform… which is also wrong, but that is not specifically what I am talking about here.
I wrote on October 1 that the Avalanche was done. Finished. Doomed to finish at the bottom of the Western Conference. The Glory Days of the Avalanche were over. Done. Dead. Stick a fork in them.
Now, in this first post here on Martini Hockey since then (I know, it's terrible that I slacked off this much), I now hereby admit that I was wrong.
Not about the beginning of the decline coming with the boneheaded trade by Pierre Lacroix to get Jose Theodore. Not about the over-committing salary to top players after the 2001 Stanley Cup. Not about the “hosing-Granato-for-Quenneville” or the “hosing-Granato-by-openly-pursuing-Patrick-Roy-as-coach” sagas. Not about signing Brad May to the Avs after his involvement in the Bertuzzi-Moore incident. Cetrtainly not about Adam Foote being a jerk for forcing his way out of Columbus via trade.
I’m still right about all those things.
I was wrong about how the Avs would finish. In fact, the Avalanche finished pretty much where I thought Columbus would end up, and Columbus ended up… pretty much where I thought the Avalanche would. And for once, Adam Foote showed up to work in Columbus… just wearing the wrong uniform, and the Avs unceremoniously swept the season series with Columbus. Hell, the last one even cost Ken Hitchcock his job. What a difference 6 ½ months can make.
That having been said, I don’t exactly see the Avs going very far in the Playoffs, but I won’t take a whole lot of pride in it if I’m right.
So there it is. Mea culpa.
In the West, starting with the one that really matters in Denver:
(1) San Jose vs. (8) Colorado
Season Series Winner: San Jose, 2-1-1
I don’t think there were very many people who saw Colorado even contending for the Playoffs. I was one of them. They are young and good. However, like I said, they’re young. They’ll make noise in the future, and they’ll make some noise here.
However, Sharks in 6.
(2) Chicago vs. (7) Nashville
Season Series Winner: Chicago, 4-2
Well, no one even came close to Chicago this season in the Central Division, although Nashville and especially Detroit made it interesting when the ‘Hawks got a little sketchy in March. Their goaltending is their biggest question mark. It’s not that Huet and Niemi weren’t good. It’s just that neither is really Playoff-tested. Expect Nashville to give the ‘Hawks trouble, and I think it will be just a little bit too much. Preds in 7.
(3) Vancouver vs. (6) Los Angeles
Season Series Winner: Vancouver, 3-1
Los Angeles had a really good year this year. They got off to a great start. However, Roberto Luongo has been a beast this year. If it seems like I focus on goaltending a lot in these picks… well, it’s true, I do. Vancouver has a lot of good, offensive weapons to help, though, not the least of which is Ross Trophy winner Henrik Sedin. Watch L.A. get some good shots in, but their stay in the Playoffs will be brief. Canucks in 5.
(4) Phoenix vs. (5) Detroit
Season Series Winner: Detroit, 2-0-2
Phoenix is such a great story. The true upset here, though, is if they win. However, if they can challenge the Red Wings and get them on their heels, I could be very wrong about this series. I hope I am. Seriously. Sorry, Wings in 6.
Now for the Eastern Conference:
(1) Washington vs. (8) Montreal
Season Series Winner: Washington, 2-1-1
Life was not kind to Jose Theodore in the Playoffs last year. A year after getting yanked after one game, then watching Semyon Varlamov save the Caps (and even make life interesting for the Penguins in the second), Theodore is riding a hot streak that has him the winner of 20 in his last 23 games. He has one series in him, though, if the Caps give him a chance. If Montreal challenges early, the Caps might need Varlamov for an encore. They have weapons, but if the Caps don’t get the goaltending they need, they’ll hit the links again. I think they’re done in the second, but here, Caps in 6.
(2) New Jersey vs. (7) Philadelphia
Season Series Winner: Philadelphia, 5-1
I know, Philly won five of six. They could make it interesting, but Martin Brodeur should be money in the Playoffs. Devils in 6.
(3) Buffalo vs. (6) Boston
Season Series Winner: Buffalo, 2-2-2
I so want to see Boston do well here. But they’re hurting, and Buffalo is healthy, and they have a great goaltender in Ryan Miller. The dude didn’t almost win Olympic gold for nothing. Sabres in 5.
(4) Pittsburgh vs. (5) Ottawa
Season Series Winner: Tied 2-2
I pretty much never call sweeps, and I won’t here. I just don’t see this series going beyond five games, though. It won’t even be close. Pens in 5.
Enough of the picks... bring on the pucks. The NHL's Second Season begins now....