The NHL Playoffs have arrived. The CS staff is pleased to present you with a preview , a couple of keys to the series, and Sean Keenan’s prediction of the winner and MVP of each series.
The this inter-divisional Quarterfinal matchup pairs the second and third place finishers of the Central Division; the second division this year with 4 100+ point teams. These teams play off each others strengths as Nashville ‘Neutral Zone entanglements” face off with Detroit’s vaunted transition game. They also met last season in Round 2 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iwLrLaBzoow[/youtube]
Yes, the Predators play a boring brand of hockey, but it’s proven its effectiveness. Nashville has been to the playoffs in 8 straight seasons, and Barry Trotz keeps on winning despite the lack of talent he has had to work with. This year however, Trotz has been handed a couple of Queens in former KHL star Alexander Radulov, and trade deadline acquisitions Hal Gill, Andrei Kostitsyn, and Paul Gaustad to add to his pocket Aces in Sutter and Webber. The formula hasn’t changed for the Preds though: trap, transition, score two or three, let Rinne stand on his head.
The Wings were in prime position to win the Central Division in February this year, but injuries to superstars Lidstrom and Datsyuk derailed what could have been a Presidents trophy winning team. On the plus side, the calvary has arrived! Datsyuk and Lidstrom have returned in the nick of time for a team that is suddenly struggling offensively. As far as this series, Detroit once again is strong however, they seem more beatable this year than they normally do. On the other hand, they haven’t lost in the first round in ages, they are savvy enough to have saved a gear during the regular season to use in the playoffs, and their goaltending has the ability to bail out some shoddy play.
Rinne. Yes, he’s very good, but can he beat the Wings 4 times in 7 games? Home ice will help…
Special teams. Detroit has to force Nashville into taking penalties, and then it has to convert on their PP opportunities…
Pick: Detroit in 6. I just don’t like Nashville as much as the other pundits do. I think they are a tad bit overrated offensively.
MVP: Franzen. He’s going to park himself in front of Rinne and give him the ol’ stink eye for the duration of the series if Detroit is going to win. Datsyuk and Lidstrom will get the credit for the win, but the unsung hero will be Franzen.