I'm looking like Nostradamus for picking the Rangers to sweep the Thrashers now, but let me quickly explain why I thought that.
-The Thrashers play in a lousy division. Besides the Lightning, they played the Hurricanes, Capitals,and Panthers 8 times each. Their records against each team:
Hurricanes: 4 wins 4 losses
Capitals: 5 wins 3 losses
Panthers: 6 wins and 2 losses
There's 30 points right there. It counts.
-Last time I checked, Tkachuk, Kovalchuk, Hossa and Kozlov were not team leaders. The point totals for each of those players:
Tkachuk: 1 goal 3 assists.
Kovalchuk: 1 goal 1 assist, 1 fight with his gloves on.
Hossa: 1 assist. Is it pretty unanimous that it's better to have Heatley than Hossa?
Kozlov: nothing. zip.
The Thrashers will need to add a character guy or 2 like a Shanahan-type, because, like Mike Chen had mentioned, Bobby Holik is not going to use any of his experience to lead the team, even though he had more shots on goal than any other Thrasher in the series (a putrid 10). Scott Mellanby is about to retire.
-I really didn't think that Kari Lehtonen would shit the bed that badly though.
The Rangers have heaps of character
Speaking of Shanahan: the Rangers brass looks like a bunch of geniuses for signing him now. It's also the acquisitions of guys like Sean Avery, Matt Cullen, and Paul Mara that have added a toughness to a team that was ousted easily in Round 1 last year because it was Team Czech and had no playoff heart.
How about the younger Rangers stepping it up in the playoffs? Ryan Callahan has 2 goals and 1 assist. Fedor Tyutin has 5 assists.
Jaromir Jagr is a damned menace out there now. He had 2 goals and 5 assists in the series.
Henrik Lundqvist improved his play a few weeks prior to the playoffs and hasn't looked back.
The Rangers are everything that the Thrashers aren't. And you have to think that Thrashers management will learn a valuable lesson from their first post season experience and make the right adjustments in the summer.
Anyway, for every bold prediction, there is a dumb one. My dumb one may turn out to be my 'Flames beat the Wings in 5' prediction.
No one is perfect!
T Tags: Rangers Thrashers Czechs Shanahan Zanstorm+Genius