As often as I poke fun at John Buccigross in this space, I will admit that his predictions have certainly been a fuck of a lot better than mine so far this NHL season. Looking back to my NHL Regular Season predictions, I find that I got five playoff teams correct in the East, misstepping on the Flyers, Maple Leafs, and Hurricanes, and placing my Penguins second to last in the conference (intentional reverse karma, I swear), though I was the only one in the world who correctly had the Islanders in the playoffs, which I think might have been a joke to amuse myself at the time. I went 6 for 8 in the West, stupidly forgetting that Colorado isn't Colorado anymore and that L.A. is still very much L.A.
Bucci went 6 for 8 in the East, picking up the Rangers and Thrashers, who I missed, and predicting a Philly demise, which I also missed (though have dreamed about for years), but Bucci homered in the awful Bruins at 8th and had the Islanders dead last in the conference, as though they were some sort of joke. He also went 7 for 8 in the West, missing just the Oilers as the 8th seed, giving him 13 playoff teams to my 11.
However, Bucci also spent half of his East preview whining about his "beloved Uncle Kenny," whereas my preview did not mention his stupid dead uncle once. I feel that gives me an additional three points, vaulting me to a 14-13 victory in the regular season standings. Also, he once again used a bunch of dumbass song references in his column, including lyrics by Rascal Flatts and Guster, which is a 10 point deduction. The real score: Dan 14, Buccigross 3.
So, I crushed Bucci in the regular season, but every hockey fan knows, nothing matters til the playoffs, and in the world of predicting things on the internet, this rule is no different. I predicted five first-round series correctly - Buffalo, New Jersey, The Rangers, Detroit, and Vancouver - though I did stupidly go homer and take the Pens over Ottawa, violating my shrewd reverse-prediction from the regular season and costing Pittsburgh the chance to advance. I also made a gutsy Minnesota-over-Anaheim upset pick, and even though Anaheim took it in five games, I feel my boldness earns me one more point. So let's say I got six.
Buccigross got 7 out of 8 series correct, missing just the Penguins over Ottawa. This appears impressive at first glance, except he took Anaheim over Minnesota in seven games, and Anaheim only needed five, so that's pretty much like getting it wrong. He also titled his column "It's my most wonderful time of the (hockey) year," implying that other hockey fans have other more wonderful times of the NHL season than the playoffs; I know my favorite time of the hockey year is January, cause you just can't beat good ol' regular season games 45 through 60! So yeah, really dumb column title, that costs him two more picks. Also, in reference to Pavel Datsyuk, he quotes the entire chorus of "The Real Slim Shady," which docks him two more.
That puts the total playoff score at Dan 6, Buccigross 2. I can't believe he only predicted two series correctly! How does this guy still have a job?
Alright, Bucci, you've got a chance to redeem yourself in Round Two - I see your playoff predictions, and I raise you my (correct) ones!
1) Buffalo vs. 6) NY Rangers
The Sabres are loaded with potential unlikely heroes, but it will be extremely likely hero Chris Drury not-shocking the world and scoring the series clincher in overtime of Game Six. Sabres in 6.
2) New Jersey vs. 4) Ottawa
This is an exact NHL equivalent of Patriots-Colts. I know the Colts won this year, but I also know that if my life depended on one of these matchups, I'd take the Patriots every time. Also, if the Colts had Ray Emery, he would suck, and not just because he doesn't play football. Devils in 6.
1) Detroit vs. 5) San Jose
I've underestimated San Jose all season, and they've proven time and time again that Ron Wilson isn't just some asshole who spews angering sound bytes to the media, that Joe Thornton isn't just some big, glorified Adam Oates who never shoots the puck but the North American media can't help but try to fellate him at every opportunity, and that despite still being known more for inspiring a Starter Jacket than for playing hockey, The Sharks are a viable cup contender. What I'm saying is, why should I stop underestimating them now? Red Wings in 7.
2) Anaheim vs. 3) Vancouver
GM Brian Burke going against his former Vancouver franchise is probably the biggest story in professional sports right now. This series will shock the world when it draws more viewers on Versus than CSI and American Idol combined, and the Ducks, having already beaten the Hawks, Team Iceland, and Varsity in similarly high-pressured situations, are clearly better equipped to handle that kind of pressure. Ducks in 6.