AO clearly approves.
Between the Caps and Devils, #2 and #3 seeds respectively, one of these teams are going to lose in the first round. And this isn't so much an educated guess as much as a Champ Kind scientific fact. Both of these teams have loads of talent but both of these teams also have major weaknesses. And more importantly, one of the top 3 seeds ALWAYS loses in the first round, and why should this year be any different? Onto the "analysis"!
#3 Devils vs. #6 Canes
I was all set to pick the Hurricanes in 3 simply based on the fact that the Devils were the best team in the NHL until Marty got his record, whereby they proceeded to suck in every possible facet of the game. But a few reasons give me reason to think that this year could be different than the last three early exits:
-Patrik Elias hasn't played most of the last month with an injury that seemed just serious enough to sideline him for regular season games but not the postseason. Translation: he'll be healthy and ready to go.
-Colin White missed a handful of games as well. Also not gonna help our chances.
-The Devils have won 4 of their last 5. Sure, it's been against a bunch of non-playoff teams, and two of 'em came in overtime, but a win is a win. And lest we forget, the Devils were AWFUL for the last few games of the '00 season. They lost a bunch of games in a row, only winning the final game of the season against Florida in overtime.
-And piggybacking off of that last thought, this Devils team is talented. REAL talented. Like too talented to be as bad as they've been. A month ago, this team was playing as well offensively as they have at any point since the '00 team. I'm not saying that they can flip on the offense, but, well, maybe I am saying that. After all, they did it in '00.
-Lastly, everything I read about this team is that they're conducting business with the quiet, confident calm of a team who has been there before and knows what needs to be done. So maybe they can do it?
But that's not going to happen. And here's why:
-The Devils still suck. They have beaten a few teams, but only one of them (Carolina, ironically) is going to be in the playoffs. More importantly, they haven't looked good for more than 30 minutes in any of these games. And most importantly, their power play and penalty kill have SUCKED.
-Devils good, Devils bad, the Hurricanes own them either way. As good as the Devils' record has been, they were still 1-3 against the Canes this year. And the Devils' only win was a meaningless game against the Canes' backup goalie. Which brings me to my final reason the Devils aren't escaping round 1...
-Cam Ward owns their ass. Canes in 4.5.
#2 Capitals vs. #7 Rangers
The Caps kill me. If they sign Huet last offseason, they become the favorites to win it all, right? Between Ovechkin, Semin, Backstrom, Green and the artist-still-somewhat-known-as Sergei Federov, you have a massive offense that only requires good goaltending to win a Stanley Cup. But instead, the Caps sign Jose Theodore a hit-or-miss goalie. And by hit-or-miss, I'm talking a goalie that is still living off of a fantastic '01-'02 season and has sucked ever since. Point being, Theodore will inevitably end the Caps' playoff run. And it could happen in the first round against proven playoff veterans like Drury and Gomez. But the media talking heads keep saying that this is a matchup which the Capitals were built for. And who am I to go against the advice of a group that counts Colin Cowherd, Barry Melrose, and Skip Bayless as three of their own? Caps in 6.