Looking Back: Mix’s Picks Part I
Surprising opening round series headline playoff picture
There’s a certain degree of humility involved with this, but because some of my picks were downright atrocious, I figured mid-week would be an ideal time to reflect on the first round of Stanley Cup playoff predictions that were offered here last week.
And honestly, most of these series and early results have come as a surprise to more than just me. Who had the Flyers jumping out to a commanding 3-0 series lead and making the Penguins look average (and scoring eight goals in a game twice already)? Definitely not this guy. Nor did I see the Los Angeles Kings taking hold of their 1 vs. 8 matchup with the Vancouver Canucks and winning the first three games of that series.
I mentioned it when I first made the pick: NHL Network analyst Paul Maurice said if we see Cory Schneider in this series, the Canucks are in trouble. What do you know? Schneider started Game 3, the Canucks have a goaltending issue on their hands and they need to run the table to advance.
Got all that? Ok, let’s delve into just how miserable my picks were (but admittedly, some were not all that bad).
#4 PITTSBURGH PENGUINS VS. #5 PHILADELPHIA FLYERS
MIXER’S PREDICTION: Penguins in six games.
LOOKING BACK: I know I’m not the only one to completely miss on this pick. Now that it’s impossible for the Penguins to win in six games, let’s look at why this series has turned upside down. The Flyers were supposed to be the short-tempered group ready to lose its lid at any sign of turbulence. Instead, that team has been the Penguins. They are clearly frustrated, their star players have not played well and the goaltending has been poor. You had to figure the Flyers top-ranked offense would have a hand in the outcome, but 16 goals in the last two games? Flat-out ridiculous. Philadelphia has a lock on this series, regardless if the Penguins manage to win a game on home ice tonight.
#4 NASHVILLE PREDATORS VS. #5 DETROIT RED WINGS
MIXER’S PREDICTION: Red Wings in seven games.
LOOKING BACK: While the end result of my prediction is still possible (and leave it to the Red Wings to come back from 3-1 down), it appears the Predators are in firm control of this series. I expected Detroit to score more goals and defend better, and the lack of secondary scoring has really hampered the Red Wings so far. Where has Valtteri Filppula been? The only contribution from Johan Franzen has been a Brad Stuart shot that hit him in the leg and caromed in. Detroit can no longer rely on solely on Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg for offense, and it’s showing in spades in this series. Nashville deserves credit for not affording the Red Wings time and space in the offensive zone and capitalizing on their scoring chances – while Detroit needs another “star” to show up, and soon.
#1 VANCOUVER CANUCKS VS. #8 LOS ANGELES KINGS
MIXER’S PREDICTION: Canucks sweep.
LOOKING BACK: I’d clearly like a mulligan here, but my concerns about the Kings were valid and followed them throughout the season. Los Angeles had trouble scoring goals all season and finished 29th in the league in offense per game (they only leapfrogged Minnesota due to a late-season surge). How far could Jonathan Quick carry them, and how much would they miss Jack Johnson’s minutes on the back end? Well, it has been the Dustin Brown show so far – and to think the Kings were rumored to be looking at trading their captain! He’s been a scoring threat shorthanded and on the power play and has delivered some of his trademark hits along the way. The Canucks have not been able to match Los Angeles’ competitive level and as a result, we’re talking about Vancouver’s goaltenders yet again in the playoffs.
Editor’s note: Rob will check back in later this week with another edition of “Looking Back” at Mix’s Picks. Were your picks as bad as his? Let him know on Twitter at @RobMixer, and always be sure to follow @BlueJacketsNHL for the latest on YOUR team.