I don't do this to you very often, but there are like, I don't know, two or three readers of BS who enjoy hockey. And while I use the BS twitter feed to share my observations on NFL Sundays in the fall, for example, I've spared you all from seeing my hockey-related tweets because they are, uh, a bit on the biased side. (I'm basically a drunk guy in Madison Square Garden swearing at things.) But if you're so inclined, you can find J unplugged at @J_Boilermaker on Twitter. I do a lot of Rangers hockey tweeting.
Also, whether you like hockey or not, try telling me this isn't an awesome commercial:
Last year, I made my Stanley Cup Playoff picks exclusively on Twitter and was told when I picked the LA Kings to go far that I was being silly. Then they won the Stanley Cup. So there. More upsets? Glad you (didn't) ask.
(1) Chicago Blackhawks vs (8) Minnesota Wild -- The 8-seed out west will not advance this year. The Blackhawks were insanely good this year, losing only seven games in regulation over the 48-game shortened season. This will be over early. Blackhawks in 5.
(2) Anaheim Ducks vs (7) Detroit Red Wings -- The Wings haven't missed the playoffs since 1990 but came close this year; however, they've gotten things together and the Ducks seem to have cooled. Upset alert. Red Wings in 7.
(3) Vancouver Canucks vs (6) San Jose Sharks -- Two perennial playoff chokers meet; who survives? I'm going to go upset, mainly because Canucks fans are fooling themselves if they think Cory Schneider is going to lead them to the promised land. Sharks in 7.
(4) St. Louis Blues vs (5) Los Angeles Kings -- The Blues seem overmatched here to me. The defending champ Kings have too much talent and won the Cup from the aforementioned 8-seed last year, so being on the road won't scare them at all. Kings in 6.
(1) Pittsburgh Penguins vs (8) New York Islanders -- The Isles reward for making it back to the playoffs is to face the high-scoring Pens in the first round. I think the Isles will actually give them some trouble, but not enough to pull the upset. However, this is a rare occurrence where I'll be somewhat pulling for the other hockey team that claims New York. Penguins in 6.
(2) Montreal Canadiens vs (7) Ottawa Senators -- I think everyone will be picking Montreal here and I don't think you'd be crazy to do so, obviously. But their goalie Carey Price has been rocky lately, plus the Sens are playing some of their best hockey right now and got a star defenseman back (Erik Karlsson) who had 70% of his Achilles severed in February. Uh, what? Seriously, hockey players are tough. Senators in 7.
(3) Washington Capitals vs (6) New York Rangers -- The Rangers have been my team since I was a wee lad, mainly because they were my father's team. He began bringing to me to the pot-hazed Garden in the early '80s, thus my combative nature at sporting events (I had a broken leg at the 2001 Rose Bowl and Tim probably remembers me wanting to beat a Washington fan with my crutches). Anyway, the Caps are Hank of Railroad Tie fame's team and this is the fourth meeting in five years for these teams. I still like the Rangers even though the Caps have been hot. Rangers in 7.
(4) Boston Bruins vs (5) Toronto Maple Leafs -- The Leafs haven't been in the playoffs in a long time and sort of coasted to the finish line this year. While there are no easy outs in the Cup playoffs, the Leafs might have been the one team others weren't overly worried about facing. While Boston doesn't score many goals, I think they're a better team with better coaching and toughness. Bruins in 6.
Thank you for your indulgence.