TORONTO – J.P. Arencibia may not have fared very well in his hockey pool this season, but he is one of the more knowledgeable members of the Toronto Blue Jays when it comes to the NHL and the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs.
Even Brett Lawrie, the only Canadian on the roster, says the catcher’s thoughts on the game are legit.
“For a Miami guy especially, he does have a lot of interest in the sport and he knows a little bit more than you’d think,” says Lawrie, a Langley, B.C., native and Vancouver Canucks fan. “I think he may know a little bit more than me, too. I’m not a fanatic hockey fan, but I enjoy watching the sport and I know the sport and stuff, but J.P. is more than locked in than myself.”
That’s why on the eve of the hockey playoffs we decided to check in with Arencibia, and get his thoughts on the first-round matchups. While he’s still got many years of baseball still ahead of him, perhaps a career in hockey punditry awaits him down the road.
No. 1 New York Rangers (51-24-7) vs. No. 8 Ottawa Senators (41-31-10)
“I got the New York Rangers. Obviously goalies are a big part of the playoffs and I think Mr. Lundqvist is one of the best right now in the game. Then you put together the team that they have and I think New York is going to take that one.”
No. 2 Boston Bruins (49-29-4) vs. No. 7 Washington Capitals (42-32-8)
“The Washington Capitals started off slow but they’ve picked it up as of late and Ovechkin is the kind of guy that can turn it on and put it on guys and make it a tough series. But Boston, overall, has Thomas back there, another good goalie, the defence, the striking they have, they have a force in a guy like Lucic to make sure no one messes around, and he’s a good player, too. So I think Boston in that one.”
No. 3 Florida Panthers (38-26-18) vs. No. 6 New Jersey Devils (28-28-6)
“I think the Panthers. They have a young team, I don’t know much about New Jersey, I know Brodeur has been playing better and he’s a veteran, but being from Florida I can give the Panthers the nod.”
No. 4 Pittsburgh Penguins (51-25-6) vs. No. 5 Philadelphia Flyers (47-26-9)
“Oooph. I don’t know, I think Pittsburgh is going to be tough to beat now that Sidney Crosby is healthy. Malkin is unbelievable, I think they’re going to be a real hard team to beat.”
No. 1 Vancouver Canucks (51-22-9) vs. No. 8 Los Angeles Kings (40-27-15)
“I got Vancouver. Luongo has been there and so has their team, with the weapons they have, the Sedins, I just think they’re a very good team.”
No. 2 St. Louis Blues (49-22-11) vs. No. 7 San Jose Sharks (43-29-10)
“I think St. Louis is unbelievable, I got to watch them a couple of times this year and it’s unbelievable how good they’ve played. But with Logan Couture and Joe Thornton in San Jose, I’m going to hope Niemi has a hot series and San Jose wins it.”
No. 3 Phoenix Coyotes (42-27-13) vs. No. 6 Chicago Blackhawks (45-26-11)
“That’s tough, I love Biz (Coyotes forward Paul Bissonnette) to death but the Blackhawks, and what they have on their offence with Sharp and Kane and all the other guys, that’s a pretty good team, so I think Chicago takes that one.”
No. 4 Nashville Predators (48-26-8) vs. No. 5 Detroit Red Wings (48-28-6)
“It’s going to be easy for me to pick this one because I live in Nashville in the off-season and I’m going to be pulling for them the entire playoffs, so I’m going Predators. Pekka Rinne is unbelievable, they picked up some amazing players, Radulov, I’ve talked to the guys and they say he’s an unbelievable talent, so I’m going with Nashville.”