Maggie the Monkey makes much-anticipated playoff picks Staff

4/15/2009 12:33:50 AM

While the Detroit Red Wings were the most popular pick to be the Stanley Cup champion on the NHL on TSN's Playoff Preview Show, there was some good news for two of the three Canadian teams in the post-season. The Calgary Flames and the Vancouver Canucks were both picked as first round winners by Maggie the Monkey, TSN's famous prognosticating primate.

The Montreal Canadiens, on the other hand, did not get a favourable spin of Maggie's lucky wheel.  She predicted the Boston Bruins would beat the Habs in their first round series.

Detroit was the pick for Stanley Cup champion for three of the six hockey experts assembled for the preview show. Pierre McGuire, Bob McKenzie and James Duthie all picked the Red Wings over the Boston Bruins in the Cup Final.

Ray Ferraro picked the San Jose Sharks to beat the Bruins for the Cup, while Darren Pang liked the Sharks over the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Bruins were picked as finalists by five of the six panelists, but only Peter Laviolette picked them to win, predicting a Boston victory over San Jose.

As for the Canadian teams, all of TSN's experts agreed with the notion that the Canadiens would be hard-pressed to advance against the Bruins in the first round.

"Tim Thomas has been the most consistent goaltender in the NHL this year," said Pang. "Carey Price has not been in a rhythm all season long."

"I like Boston a lot because of the depth they have," said Laviolette. 

Maggie the Monkey was not alone in picking the Flames, but it was close. Pierre McGuire was the only expert panelist to take the Flames, pointing to their post-season experience and playoff-style of play as reasons to take Calgary over the Chicago Blackhawks.

"I like teams that have been there before and Chicago has virtually no playoff experience aside from the goaltender," noted McGuire. "And there won't be any fly-bys with Nikolai Khabibulin in the crease. This is going to become a bloody mess. This series is going to be vicious, it's going to be tough, it's going to be in your face, and the guys that can produce that kind of hockey play for the Calgary Flames.

"I'm not throwing them down the drain at all. They're going to bring a whole lot of nasty to this series, and I don't know how Chicago is going to respond to that."

While Maggie's wheel stopped on the Canucks, the panel was split between Vancouver and the St. Louis Blues. Pang said the Blues had a chance to play Cinderella this spring.

"You're talking about momentum," said Pang.  "You're talking about a team that absolutely believes in what they are doing… I think they are a dynamic hockey team – well-coached and well-prepared."

Along with goaltender Roberto Luongo, the Canucks will need big performances from Daniel and Henrik Sedin to beat the Blues.

"The Sedins really have to step up," said McKenzie.  "They are marvelous hockey players, point-a-game players in the regular season... But in the post-season, they average less than half a point-per-game. They need to close that gap.  If they do, the Canucks will be fine."

Maggie's other picks were the Devils, Flyers, Sharks and a couple of upset specials - the Blue Jackets to beat the Red Wings and the Rangers to beat the Capitals.

Maggie didn't get any support for her underdogs, though, as TSN's experts all went with Washington and Detroit. At least one panelist, however, was not sure Washington would go much further.

"If Washington expects to go deep into the playoffs, I don't see Jose Theodore winning 16 games," said Ferraro.  "I think at some point, the Capitals may have to go back to their back-up goaltender."

San Jose over Anaheim was another unanimous pick for the panel.

"San Jose is a bucket of offence," said Laviolette.  "They can score off the rush they can score off the cycle.  They're big, they're strong, it's just too much."

The panel also was in agreement that Pittsburgh would beat out the Flyers.

"The difference could be the matchup between Mike Richards and Sidney Crosby," said McKenzie.

Laviolette, though, said the Flyers might have cost themselves the series by fading down the stretch.

"Philly had home ice and they blew it – advantage Pittsburgh," he said.

The panel was split on the Carolina-New Jersey series.

Maggie the Monkey has been a playoff fixture for TSN since 2003, when she picked the underdog Mighty Ducks of Anaheim to reach the Stanley Cup Final with the spin of a wheel. The Ducks did just that, and Maggie's fame grew.

This will be Maggie's last season making NHL playoff picks, however, as she is slated to retire after the Stanley Cup is won.