Playoff Picks And Changes For Capitals
By Stephen London
Welcome to one of the last editions of NHL picks. These playoffs have been full of nailbiters, with numerous games going into overtime and series going to Game 7. Now it's down to the conference finals, and the winners will face off during the Stanley Cup Finals.
No. 8 Los Angeles Kings at No. 3 Phoenix Coyotes
Not many people picked these two teams to be the last ones standing in the Western Conference. The Los Angeles Kings -- who currently lead the series, 1-0 -- have a young and fast roster. The Kings picked up two ex-teammates and veterans in Mike Richards, before the season started, and Jeff Carter, at the trade deadline. Perhaps acquiring those two forwards gave Los Angeles the veteran leadership it needed to win their first Stanley Cup.
The Phoenix Coyotes, on the other hand, have a squad of players that skate as hard as they can to every puck. In order for the Coyotes to beat Jon Quick, the talented Kings goaltender, they might have to rely on individual efforts as well as creative passing plays.
The Coyotes will also have to keep up with the talented offense of the Kings. Dustin Brown has eight points during the last five games and Richards has six during that span. Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith will have to play well to get his team a series win, and Phoenix needs to find secondary scoring to equalize Los Angeles' potent offense.
Pick: 1U on Kings to win the series -360 ... risking 3.6U
Coyotes Players To Watch: Radim Vrbata, Shane Doan, Gilbert Brule, Ray Whitney
Kings Players To Watch: Richards, Brown, Anze Kopitar, Carter
No. 6 New Jersey Devils at No. 1 New York Rangers
The rivalry between the New Jersey Devils and the New York Rangers is one of the biggest rivalries in all of the NHL. The Devils advanced to the Eastern Conference finals by beating the heavily favored Philadelphia Flyers.
The Rangers had a tough series win against the Washington Capitals, but that has not seemed to take any energy out of the players, considering their 3-0 win against the Devils during Game 1. The Rangers defense has been more than sound, and their forwards have been following the beat of Brad Richards' drum. Richards has scored countless key goals during the postseason thus far, including the first goal of Game 7 against the Capitals.
This series features two future Hall of Fame goaltenders, Henrik Lundqvist and Martin Brodeur. Brodeur is a decade older than 30-year old Lundqvist, but Brodeur looked as if he were in his prime during Game 1. If Brodeur can keep the Devils within striking distance for most of the games, the Devils could have a shot at eliminating their archrivals from the playoffs. But the Rangers are playing too well on defense to pick against them.
Pick: 2U on Rangers for the series -140 ... risking 2.8U
Devils Players To Watch: Zach Parise, Ilya Kovalchuk, David Clarkson, Patrick Elias
Rangers Players To Watch: Richards, Dan Girardi, Marian Gaborik, Artem Anisimov
Happy Trails: Dale Hunter And Alex Semin
Washington Capitals head coach Dale Hunter has already announced that he will not be returning for the 2012-2013 season, choosing instead to return home to his family in Ontario, Canada. Now, general manager George McPhee not only has to try and find the right pieces for the Capitals system, but he has to find a coach to install that system.
Hunter is not the only one reporting his intention not to return to the nation's capital. Alex Semin has been the subject of trade talks throughout the last two years, and his representatives announced his unwillingness to return for another season as a Capital.
Posted May 15, 2012