Wednesday, May 5, 2010

WHL14 Playoff Predictions

The Rink Rats’ fate has been sealed as they take on the Las Vegas Bulls in the first round of this year’s WHL Playoffs. The Rink Rats haven’t had much luck against the Bulls this season going 0-5-1 and being outscored 37-18 in those contests the last of which was a 3-3 tie. That doesn’t worry this Minnesota team however as they head in to take on this first placed Bulls team with two strong MVP candidates in Daymond Langkow & Brent Burns, a leading Norris Trophy candidate (Burns) and one of the best goaltenders in the league in Ryan Miller. Miller has a reputation for coming up big and will need to have the series of his life in order to beat the Bulls.

Head Coach Barry Melrose will also have to be prepared for a good series as many have criticized Melrose for his efforts down the stretch for not capitalizing on key opportunities and moving his team up in the standings. There were many opportunities to gain ground down the stretch but the team failed to do so against some of the weaker WHL teams like the Orcas (2 losses) and the Dynamite. It leaves some wondering if Melrose is on the hot seat heading into the playoffs if the Rink Rats don’t perform. “I can’t worry about that right now,” stated Melrose. “We have a job to do against a team that has a lot of talent. We’re going in focused and hungry for a playoff win. This team is a lot more talented then last year’s so don’t expect us to roll over and give them the series.”

Minnesota really surprised a lot of teams this season going from a last placed squad earlier in the season to a notable competitor and playoff team. This will be the squad’s second WHL Playoffs under new management which took over a last placed club half way through the season before last. This squad is a much more talented team then last year’s which gives many in Minnesota hope.

Now a look at our conference predictions:


Corinths vs. Lunatics – The Lunatics hobbled into the WHL Playoffs with a
notably different squad then before the trade deadline. Many of the team’s top
players were dealt leaving the team with Mike Comrie & Mathieu Schneider to
rely on.

That won’t be enough to beat one of the WHL’s most storied and strongest clubs
in the Corinthians. The Corinths are top-notch in every area so expect them to
get some rest before round two ... Corinths in 4

Icedogs vs. Cougars – Many expected more from the Cougars this season. They
were busy in the offseason making many considerable moves to improve their
squad. The team hasn’t lived up to expectations and find themselves facing off
against the Icedogs, a team that’s playing really well with strong talent. The
Icedogs are likely heading to the Conference finals so expect them to paw away
at the Cougars … Icedogs in 5

Sparrows vs. Demons – This one will be a battle. The Sparrows finished the
regular season in 3rd place but the Demons have a lot of talent on their
roster and will really challenge to pull off the upset. Expect Malkin &
Thornton to play big for the Demons to pull off the upset … Demons in 7

Stallions vs. Saints – The Saints boast an improved roster from last season
and have 64 goal scorer Dany Heatley on their roster. Goaltending will be the
Saints’ question mark but Bryzgalov could very likely step up. The Stallions’
1-2 duo of Crosby & Sakic will need to make a strong impact in this series
which is likely one of the best in the 1st round … Saints in 7

Bulls vs. Rink Rats – The Bulls are defending Cup champions and boast one of
the most talented rosters in the WHL. With some of the league’s best scorers
in Zach Parise, Marek Svatos, Patrick Elias and others the Rink Rats will
likely have their paws full. There is a chance the Rink Rats could surprise
the Bulls with an improved roster, but the team hasn’t had much luck against
Las Vegas and doesn’t play well on the road. The Rink Rats will really have to
have all 3 lines contribute in order to pull off an upset … Bulls in 6

Fighting Irish vs. Dropkicks – The Dropkicks have long been considered a team
that doesn’t play well in the playoffs and after dishing off talent to stay
below the cap this season had to be more disappointing then most. The Fighting
Irish’s Nathan Horton has really stepped up his game this season and has
plenty of help from others. The acquisition of Dion Phaneuf is working out
really well and Ales Kotalik’s 41 goals have to be a welcomed surprise …

Express vs. Voodoo – The Express’s veteran club knows how to get it done.
They’ve been one of the WHL’s best for many years and don’t have too many
chances left to win the Cup. The Voodoo have some solid scorers and one the
WHL’s best goaltenders in Martin Brodeur. Vanek will have to play better then
his 14 goals and 16 assists during the regular season if the Voodoo wants to
win. Expect big things out of the veterans in Edmonton … Express in 6

Dugouts vs. Timberjacks – The Dugouts were on top of the league for much of
the season, much to the surprise of other teams. They weren’t expected to be
as successful but the acquisitions of Robert Lang & Anze Kopitar really worked
out. The Dugouts’ have gone with a two goaltender approach throughout the
majority of the regular season and will have to rely solely on one goaltender
to get the job done now.

The Timberjacks look like an improved club since new management took over half
way through the season. Their improved identity must rely on Alex Ovechkin to
get the job done and come up big. Down the middle the TJacks are strong with
the likes of Getzlaf, Horcoff, Arnott & Legwand leading the way. Look for the
TJacks to pull off a slight upset … TJacks in 6

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