PHT predicts the 2010-2011 Stanley Cup playoffs


Earlier we told you about how we thought the regular season was going to play out and now it’s time to look at how we think the playoffs will go.

Joe says:

Eastern Conference quarterfinals

Washington over Tampa Bay
New Jersey over Montreal
Philadelphia over Buffalo
Pittsburgh over Boston

Eastern Conference semifinals

Washington over Philadelphia
New Jersey over Pittsburgh

Eastern Conference finals

New Jersey over Washington


James says:

Eastern Conference quarterfinals

Washington over Carolina
New Jersey over Tampa Bay
Philadelphia over Boston
Pittsburgh over Buffalo

Eastern Conference semifinals

Washington over Philadelphia
New Jersey over Pittsburgh

Eastern Conference finals

Washington over New Jersey

In the Western Conference, things shake out a bit differently for your two favorite writers at PHT. Never mind that we’re the only ones here, that’s besides the point.

Joe says:

Western Conference quarterfinals

Vancouver over St. Louis
Nashville over San Jose
Detroit over Los Angeles
Chicago over Phoenix

Western Conference semifinals

Vancouver over Nashville
Detroit over Chicago

Western Conference finals

Vancouver over Detroit


James says:

Western Conference quarterfinals

Vancouver over St. Louis
Chicago over Phoenix
San Jose over Nashville
Detroit over Los Angeles

Western Conference semifinals

Detroit over Vancouver
Chicago over San Jose

Western Conference finals

Detroit over Chicago

Finally, for the Stanley Cup finals, we shake things down and get our love out for all things Western Conference.

Joe says:  Vancouver over New Jersey

I fully admit, I’m drinking a lot of blue and green Kool-Aid this year. I like too much what they’ve added on defense, the Sedins are the real deal and just getting better and with a more competent defense playing in front of Luongo, he’ll get the monkey off his back. Also note I had Vancouver avoiding Chicago in the playoffs. That would help out.

As for New Jersey, I can’t shake the feeling that the mix of home-grown players and old-school throwbacks will put it all together with John MacLean coaching them over the first round playoff hump once again. Running into an old school mirror image team like Vancouver in the finals will be too much to overcome after getting run around by the wild Capitals in the East final. Vancouver will celebrate their 40th year in the NHL by finally getting to have that parade they so sloppily and publicly plan each year.

James says: Detroit over Washington

Detroit’s goalies might be a tad bit better than Washington’s (certainly from an experience stand point in Chris Osgood, who won a Cup in relief of Dominik Hasek). Mike Green is no Lidstrom. Zetterberg or Datsyuk might not be able to shut down Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin completely, but I think they can match or maybe even out-play the two elite forwards. Johan Franzen and Alex Semin would probably be the X-factors in this series and I have much more confidence throwing my imaginary vote to Franzen.

I feel weird choosing Detroit because I feel like they’re an aging team with questionable forward depth, but I’m going with my bulbous gut on this one. Feel free to mock me as an old and decrepit Red Wings team doesn’t even make the playoffs this season…

The Panthers are healthy scratching Bolland, and he is their highest-paid forward, but they insist they’re not sending a message

Dave Bolland, Derek Nansen
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It feels like there’s a story brewing in Florida, where Dave Bolland — the team’s most-expensive forward, at $5.5 million a season — has been a healthy scratch for three consecutive games.

But according to head coach Gerard Gallant, there’s nothing to see here. Move along.

“There’s nothing to talk about,” Gallant said, per the Miami Herald. “He sat out, our team is playing well. There’s nothing more than that. We have to sit two guys and I like the way we’re playing. The next game is a different game. We may change something up, who knows.”

Bolland had just one goal and five points in 18 games prior to getting parked in the press box. Well, technically he got dropped to the fourth line before hitting the press box, but you get the idea. He’s not exactly in Gallant’s good graces.

Not helping Bolland’s case is the fact that, as Gallant pointed out, the club is playing pretty well without him. The Panthers have rebounded from a rough start to November by winning back-to-back games against the Islanders and Red Wings, which set them up nicely for the remainder of this current five-game road swing.

Florida has games still to play in St. Louis, Nashville, Columbus and New Jersey. It’ll be interesting to see when — or, if — he draws back into the lineup.

In closing, a reminder that Bolland’s in the second of a five-year, $27.5 million deal.

Canucks rookie Virtanen exits with upper-body injury, won’t return


After sitting out Friday’s game in Dallas, Vancouver’s Jake Virtanen had to be excited at drawing back in for tonight’s game against the Ducks.

Unfortunately, the excitement didn’t last long.

Virtanen suffered an upper-body injury after playing just 1:45 in the opening frame, and was ruled out of the contest during the intermission. It’s unclear exactly what happened, but it looks like Virtanen was injured on a hit by Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf.

Virtanen didn’t take another shift following the incident, and Getzlaf was given a minor penalty on the play.

While we don’t know what the injury is or it’s severity, losing Virtanen for any length of time would have ramifications for the Canucks and this year’s Canadian entry at the World Juniors. There has been talk of Virtanen possibly being released by the Canucks to participate in the tournament; last year, he was part of the team that captured gold in Montreal and Toronto.

Virtanen has played in 18 games for the Canucks this year, scoring one goal and four points while averaging 10:17 TOI per night.

McLellan sounds off on Oilers after shutout loss in Toronto

Todd McLellan

Edmonton lost for the fourth time in five games on Monday, a 3-0 defeat in Toronto that marked the second time in a week the Oilers have been shut out.

Needless to say, the head coach wasn’t happy.

In a fairly blunt and harsh assessment aimed at a variety of players, Todd McLellan had some choice words for what he called a “disappointing” effort.

Some of the more choice quotes:

“I didn’t think we were a very hard team. I didn’t think we stood over a lot of pucks. I didn’t think we won a lot of battles along the boards. I didn’t think we were competitive enough in a lot of areas.”

“When I look at the trip as a whole, we had some key, key people really under-perform on the trip. Significant minus numbers, not hitting the score sheet. It can’t always be the [Leon DraisaitlTaylor Hall line] that provides that.”

It’s fair to suggest that last one was directed at Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle.

Nugent-Hopkins has just two points and zero goals in his last five games, with a minus-8 rating. Eberle is pointless entirely, and also at minus-8 over the same stretch.

They’re hardly the only Oilers not pulling their weight at the moment, however. Edmonton has lost 15 times in its first 25 games, a figure that suggests there are more problems that just a couple of underachieving forwards.

Just ask McLellan, who all but admitted his team has issues matching up.

“We’re not where we need to be,” he said. “We’ve got work to do as a team, work to do as an organization to get bigger, stronger, harder, and physically win more battles than we lose.”

Roy: Avs ‘need, expect more’ from Varlamov


The tough times continue for Semyon Varlamov.

After another unsuccessful outing on Monday — allowing four goals on 27 shots in a loss to the Islanders — Varlamov was subjected to a familiar refrain: Patrick Roy saying the Avs need more from their No. 1 netminder.


You can hear all of the head coach’s comments in the video above but, for brevity’s sake, here’s the Varlamov stuff:

“It’s not easy for him. Obviously we need that extra save and we didn’t get it on the road. It’s hard to win if you’re giving four goals on the road.

“We just need more from him. He’s our No. 1 guy and we’re behind him, but we need, we expect more from him.”

There has to be serious concern about Varlamov right now, if there wasn’t already.

His save percentage through seven games in November (.891) is marginally better than it was through seven games in October (.889), and that’s not the only alarming stat. Varlamov’s yet to record a shutout this year, yet to record back-to-back victories and has given up at least three goals in six of his last seven starts.

Not good.

Compounding things for Colorado are the standings. The Avs are now 9-14-1 and mired in the Central Division basement, meaning that — if they have any hope of going on a tear and getting back into playoff content — they’ll need to do it soon.

Which means they might not have the time, or the patience, for Varlamov to find his game.