2010 NHL playoffs: Conference finals predictions

We’ve already proven
just how useless making predictions in the playoffs can be
, but
since we’re gluttons for punishment we thought we’d go ahead and keep at
it anyway. That the conference finals are so evenly matched for each
series will likely mean that we’re nowhere close on our predictions, but
here they are nonetheless.

Eastern Conference Finals

7)
Philadelphia Flyers vs. 8) Montreal Canadiens

James: I’m just
as conflicted with this
series as I am with Chicago-San Jose. Montreal has the best goalie of
the playoffs, a decent group of forwards masquerading as an incredible
group of forwards and a sharp defensive system that rarely springs a
leak. (They allow a lot of shots, but not a lot of quality chances) On
the other hand, Philadelphia has plenty of firepower and some big, mean
forwards. It could go either way. Ultimately, my motto is: when it
doubt, go with the team that has Chris Pronger. Philadelphia in 6.

Joe:
No, I’m not trying to do some reverse jinx stuff after picking the
Habs
to get bounced in six games in the previous two series. What I’m saying
is that I’m now a believer and I think they’ll find things to be a
little easier going against the Flyers. The Flyers haven’t played a team
this dedicated to defense yet, which is stunning since they’ve already
beaten the Devils. It won’t be pretty to watch regardless of who does
win but I think the Habs continue to work miracles. Montreal in 6.

Brandon:
This is going to be one heck of an interesting series to watch, as
these are two teams seemingly riding the wave of “destiny” on their road
to deep in the playoffs. Someone’s luck will run out and one team will
find their energy and edge gone after a month straight of overcoming the
odds. You also have to think, especially with two teams so evenly
matched, that the goaltending will truly make the difference. Jaroslav
Halak has proven so far that he’s the goalie to beat, and Michael
Leighton is still struggling to get his game together. Montreal in 7.

Western
Conference Finals

1) San Jose Sharks vs. 2) Chicago
Blackhawks

James: Every once in a while, a
pre-season prediction will have its advantages. Like, say, when you
don’t really know which team will win a playoff series. I picked the San
Jose Sharks to win the Stanley Cup last summer, so I’ll stick with them
until I’m wrong. Thank goodness for this default choice, though,
because I have no idea who I actually think will win.
San Jose in
6.

Joe:
I’ll be honest here, I really have no solid idea as to who will win
this
series. Both teams are playing great, both teams are showing tremendous
killer instinct and both teams have other-worldly talent. Saying this
one goes seven games is my way of saying this is a toss-up that goes
either way. I’m siding with the Sharks because I believe that this is
their time and that all the nagging labels they’ve had on them before
they’ve shaken off. Of course Chicago can still win this and make me a
huge liar. San Jose in 7.

Brandon: Is this finally
the year for the Sharks? Or will the Blackhawks take advantage of
perhaps their best and final shot to get this far before the salary cap
comes down upon their head this summer? Like Joe, there’s literally no
way to tell how this series will go because I honestly have no clue how
the Sharks will react after finally getting to the Conference finals
after four years of disappointment. I blindly throw a dart against the
wall. Chicago in 7.

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    Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

    Ilya Mikheyev
    Bob Frid/USA TODAY Sports
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    VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Vancouver Canucks right wing Ilya Mikheyev is set to have season-ending surgery on his left knee.

    Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said Friday night the 28-year-old Russian forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the team’s first preseason game Sept. 25. Mikheyev will undergo surgery next week and is expected to be ready for training camp in the fall.

    Mikheyev was originally listed as week-to-week with the injury and played 45 regular-season games, finishing with 13 goals and 15 assists. He scored in his final appearance Friday night, a 5-2 home victory over Columbus.

    Mikheyev signed a four-year, $19 million contract as a free agent last summer.

    Maple Leafs’ Matthews out at least 3 weeks with knee injury

    austonmatthews
    Nick Turchiaro/USA TODAY Sports
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    Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee.

    The team announced the reigning MVP’s anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto’s victory against the New York Rangers.

    Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup.

    After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced Aleskander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews’ place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster.

    Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy last season after leading the NHL with 60 goals, has 53 points in 47 games this season.

    Caufield opted for surgery with Habs out of playoff race

    caufield surgery
    David Kirouac/USA TODAY Sports
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    MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield said Friday he wouldn’t be having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder if the team were in playoff contention.

    But with the Canadiens near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 22-year-old Caufield said he decided to have the surgery to protect his long-term health. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.

    “I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”

    Caufield, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games, had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before concluding that his season was over.

    “I think they’ve seen a lot more than I have and they know the differences and what they like or don’t like about it,” he said about the medical opinions. “Long term, I think this is what’s best but for sure it was tough to sit out that game against Toronto on Saturday night.”

    Caufield initially felt the injury in an awkward fall during Montreal’s 4-2 loss at Dallas on Dec. 23. He said his right shoulder popped, and he replaced it himself.

    Caufield felt it again in the Habs’ 4-3 loss at Nashville on Jan. 12. The club announced on Jan. 21 that Caufield would miss the rest of the season.

    Caufield is nearing the end of his three-year, entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.

    All-Star Matty Beniers to miss next 2 games for Kraken

    matty beniers
    Joe Nicholson/USA TODAY Sports
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    SEATTLE — Seattle Kraken rookie All-Star Matty Beniers will miss the team’s final two games before the All-Star break after taking a big hit from Vancouver’s Tyler Myers earlier this week.

    Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said after morning skate Friday that Beniers would not play Friday night against Calgary or Saturday against Columbus. Hakstol did not speculate on Beniers’ availability for next weekend’s All-Star Game in Florida.

    The team has not specified what kind of injury Beniers sustained from the hit. He was barreled over by Myers away from the play early in the second period in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over Vancouver. Myers was penalized for interference on the play. Beniers returned briefly for one shift later in the period but did not play in the third period.

    Beniers is Seattle’s lone All-Star selection this season. He leads all rookies in goals (17) and points (36), and is fifth in total ice time for rookies.

    Seattle also placed defenseman Justin Schultz on injured reserve and recalled forward Max McCormick from Coachella Valley of the AHL. Hakstol said Schultz is improving but there’s no timeline on his return.