As of last night the first team has advanced out of round 2 of the playoffs, so it seemed like a good time to take stock. Here goes!
The winner was the Tampa Bay Lightning, who beat the Capitals in a sweep. Even though the Capitals were the number one team in the East, I gave them only a 60% chance of beating the Lightning. Why? Because the NHL playoffs are a crapshoot, and the odds only become crappier as teams become more even. The Lightning will be the away team against whoever they play next, but that hasn’t stopped them so far. Remember: home ice doesn’t matter a lick in the playoffs.
The Boston Bruins are up 3-0 on the Philly Flyers and so should be advancing soon. I have the Bruins as the best team in the East based on goal differential, so this one isn’t a surprise (although the Bruins had less of a chance of advancing than the Caps). The Bruins will be favored over the Lightning.
The Vancouver Canucks are up 2-1 on the Nashville Predators. The Canucks are the favorite, but a 2-1 lead isn’t a sure sign that they’ll make it. All three games have been one-goal affairs, with one game going to overtime and another to double OT. This is why the playoffs are such a crapshoot: in a few games between fairly even teams, an odd bounce at any point can determine the game.
The San Jose Sharks are up 3-0 on my Detroit Red Wings, meaning the Wings will be going home soon. I thought that would be the case, but you always hope that your 43% bet comes through. The Canucks will be favored over the Sharks in the next round.
Moving to the NBA, the Heat are leading the Celtics 2-0. As I feared, the Smackdown participants all picked the same teams to win. That means the only way to make up ground is to get the right number of games. I have the Heat winning in 6 and only one other person picked that number, so if it turns out I’ll get a bit of an edge there. However, the Celtics have yet to show that they have an interest in winning a game. Maybe it’ll change when they get to play in Boston.
The Bulls and Hawks are tied at 1-1. I’m convinced that my (and everyone else’s) Bulls pick will turn out correctly, but my prediction of a sweep has already been eliminated. So it would actually be in my best interest if the Hawks pulled off the upset. No one besides Henry’s mom has it going past 5 games, so a 6 or 7 game Bulls win would also be ok.
The Dallas Mavericks are upsetting the LA Lakers 2-0. Everyone predicted the Lakers winning in a long series except for Hollinger (who took the Lakers in 5), so this series won’t do much to differentiate the pack. Everyone will be completely wrong or pretty much right (three people have the Lakers in 7 and another three plus me have it in 6). I would be perfectly happy to see Kobe booted out of the playoffs though.
Finally, the OKC Thunder and Memphis Grizzlies are tied at 1-1. Both games have been fairly convincing wins, so it’s hard to say from these two games alone who has the edge. Of course, the entire regular season says that the edge goes to the Thunder. My pick for the Thunder in 6 is still alive and was only chosen by three other people, so this would be a good spot to be right.
I don’t expect the standings to change much after this round unless someone gets really lucky and nails the right number of games a few times. If we end up having Bulls-Heat in the conference finals, I will take the Bulls on the strength of home court advantage. I could see this being a contentious pick and other people being happy to take the Heat. So that series may open up some leads for some people. The winner of Dallas-LA will be favored against the winner of OKC-Memphis, but it will be much closer if it’s Mavs-Thunder. Assuming the Thunder pull it out, I could see them getting some action (especially if the Lakers come back, but look unimpressive in doing so), so there might also be a little room for change there.
I’ll also have to see how things turn out in the WoW Smackdown. To the best of my knowledge, things are very similar between the TrueHoop and WoW versions (including my standing), but I haven’t seen a post with the second round picks yet. Come on guys, get with it!