With the playoffs half over and three-quarters of the qualifiers now on vacation (Does that math seem weird to anyone else?), it’s time to take a second look at my predictions from the eve of the post-season — and I’ll throw in a few of my colleagues’ as well, to prove there actually are experts around the THN offices and for some comic relief.
I predicted just two of the four conference final teams. I was on the money with Detroit and Pittsburgh, but went with the two No.1 seeds, San Jose and Boston, the former being my Stanley Cup pick.
Not sure what I was thinking going with San Jose - if there’s any team that defies the “You have to lose before you win” tenet, it’s the Sharks. But I’m somewhat buoyed by the fact only two THN staffers didn’t have the West’s No. 1 seed making the conference final; and fully two-thirds of us had the Sharks winning it all.
After two rounds I’m looking pretty good with my choice of Sidney Crosby to lead the playoffs in scoring - at his current pace he is also on track to best the playoff record of 19 goals set by Reggie Leach in 1976 and matched by Jari Kurri nine years later.
But hold on there, Johnny; don’t get too full of yourself, those toothless Sharks are still lurking. I had Joe Thornton winning the Conn Smythe Trophy and Jonathan Cheechoo regaining something resembling his Rocket Richard Trophy form as my ‘out of nowhere’ player. Obviously those two didn’t pan out; the pair had two goals combined during San Jose’s Round 1 loss.
I was right that Carolina would upset New Jersey in the first round, but also said St. Louis could be this year’s Cinderella squad; the Blues, although plucky, went on to play the role of the ugly stepsisters in being swept by Vancouver.
So if you’re keeping score at home, I’m three-for-nine so far with a chance to make it four correct predictions if Crosby keeps putting points on the board for two more rounds. Not very expert of me, I know. But I’ve never professed to having prognosticating prowess.
Meanwhile, around the office, few THNers are sitting pretty with their picks - San Jose’s flame out really dampened the prediction race. Rory Boylen, Ryan Kennedy and video producer Ted Cooper all have Carolina making it to the Cup final. But Boylen and Kennedy had the Canes playing the Canucks (Cooper had the Sharks), with Boylen going way out on a limb by predicting Rod Brind’Amour would lead the scoring race. Ah, not so much.
‘Big Bri the Alberta Guy’ Costello has the best chance to take home the THN Prediction Pool winner’s plaque. He has Detroit besting Pittsburgh in a repeat of last year’s Cup final and correctly predicted Carolina over New Jersey in Round 1. Unfortunately he also had Pavel Datsyuk leading the post-season in scoring and winning the Conn Smythe Trophy. The latter is still possible, but the former looks out of reach.
So there you have it. With Boston - a lot of us (58 percent) picked them to reach the conference final, too - and San Jose both losing much earlier than expected, we THNers aren’t looking very prescient these days, although I doubt many pundits are.
Luckily for everyone, these have been the best playoffs in years, definitely in my memory. With a first round that included two seven-game series, titanic battles between Calgary and Chicago and in Pennsylvania, and an eight seed beating a one seed in Round 1; then a second round with three more seven-gamers, including the classic Crosby-Ovechkin faceoff, there is little more to be asked of the 2009 post-season.
Although the Sharks winning it all, Thornton winning playoff MVP and Cheechoo scoring a boatload of goals would have been nice. At least for me…around the office.
Show off your hockey knowledge by entering The Hockey News’ FREE Playoff Challenge!
THN.com's Playoff Blogs, featuring analysis and opinion on the action from the night before, with insight on what happened and what it all means going forward, will appear daily throughout the NHL playoffs. Read more entries HERE.
For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazines.