Days of punditry as experts make playoff picks

Four different networks are gearing up to broadcast the NHL playoffs to the masses starting Wednesday and their assortment of experts are already busy making their opinions known.

Joe Louis Arena building manager Al Sabotka rolls a NHL hockey Stanley Cup Playoffs logo in the ice for the upcoming NHL playoffs in Detroit.

TORONTO — Four different networks are gearing up to broadcast the NHL playoffs to the masses starting Wednesday and their assortment of experts are already busy making their opinions known.

The San Jose Sharks and Boston Bruins are popular picks to meet in the Stanley Cup final. The Detroit Red Wings and Philadelphia Flyers also get some love.

No one is under more pressure this post-season than Sharks centre Joe Thornton, the experts say. And no Canadian team is going to last longer than the Vancouver Canucks, who open up at home Wednesday against the streaking St. Louis Blues (CBC, 10 p.m. ET).

“I’m not saying I want them to,” Hockey Night in Canada’s Don Cherry said on a conference call Monday, “because I really like the way they play in Calgary. And I don’t know whether (goalie Miikka) Kiprusoff is too tired or not, but the odds are Vancouver, I’ll say they’ll go the longest.”

The CBC can only hope Cherry is right on that count. The public broadcaster is also carrying the Montreal-Boston series — the Bruins host Game 1 Thursday (CBC, 7 p.m. ET) — and few expect the Canadiens to last long in that series.

TSN has the only other series featuring a Canadian team — Calgary opens at the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday (TSN, 7:30 p.m. ET) — and the injury-riddled Flames also face an uphill climb to escape the first round.

“The only thing that makes me pause about Calgary is just the injury situation going in,” said Ed Olczyk of American broadcasters NBC and Versus. “Having watched Chicago a fair bit now and having been at their game (Sunday), they’ve just got a lot of good stuff going on.

“It’s going to be a very tough series for Calgary. But if they were healthy I’d probably say them.”

While Olczyk likes the Flyers to survive the East — they open at the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday (CBC, 7 p.m. ET) — Cherry, Pierre McGuire of TSN and NBC, and Mike Milbury of CBC and NBC pick the Bruins to make it all the way to the final. The Eastern Conference champions boast the stingiest goaltending tandem in the league, a balanced scoring attack and start off with a Habs team that just squeaked into the playoffs.

Yet Cherry says that can sometimes be a dangerous mix.

“I always hated when I was a first place club playing a team that snuck into the playoffs because they’re going to be loosey-goosey, and you’ve got a gun to your head,” he said. “When you’re a first place club, those first series are always the toughest. But I’m taking Boston in five, possibly six.”

Cherry, Milbury and Olczyk are picking the Sharks — who host the Anaheim Ducks in Game 1 Thursday (CBC, 10:30 p.m. ET) — to emerge from the Western Conference. McGuire expects the defending Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings — who start play at home versus the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday (TSN, 7 p.m. ET) — to play for the title again.

All were confident in their choice, although the Canucks are a team that makes Cherry worry.

“Vancouver with (goalie Roberto) Luongo, I wouldn’t bet against them, either,” he said. “I just like that Luongo, I think he’s going to come on strong. But I’m going to go with San Jose. I think this year they have a good coach behind the bench.”

Todd McLellan led the Sharks to a 53-18-11 record and a league-high 117 points.

Just Posted

PHOTOS: Red Deer College Queens host third annual Pink in the Rink game

The RDC Queens picked up an extra special victory on home ice… Continue reading

PHOTOS: The Mustard Seed CEO speaks at Seeds of Hope Gala in Red Deer

The first-ever Seeds of Hope Gala was held at the Red Deer… Continue reading

PHOTO: Renewable Energy Fair at Red Deer College

The Renewable Energy Fair and Workshops event was held at Red Deer… Continue reading

Person airlifted to hospital after collision near Innisfail

One person was airlifted to hospital after a serious collision west of… Continue reading

WATCH: Make-A-Wish grants Star Wars loving teen’s wish

The Make-A-Wish Foundation granted Anakin Suerink’s wish in Red Deer Saturday afternoon

‘Stupid’ law preventing Canada’s re-engagement with Iran: retired envoy

OTTAWA — The real reason the Liberal government hasn’t been able to… Continue reading

Voters head to polls for BC municipal elections today

VANCOUVER — Voters in British Columbia will head to the polls today… Continue reading

All sharks tagged in N.S. expedition can now be tracked on Ocearch website

HALIFAX — All six of the sharks tagged in Nova Scotian waters… Continue reading

Memorial service for former PQ minister Lise Payette today in Montreal

MONTREAL — Mourners will gather to remember former Parti Quebecois cabinet minister… Continue reading

Immunotherapy scores a first win against some breast cancers

For the first time, one of the new immunotherapy drugs has shown… Continue reading

‘Mom I’m in trouble:’ Canadian, Brit face 10 years in jail for alleged graffiti

GRANDE PRAIRIE, Alta. — The mother of a Canadian who was arrested… Continue reading

Coyote on the prowl near Penhold

This coyote was out on the prowl in a field just west… Continue reading

Most Read