TORONTO – Mark Buehrle grew up a St. Louis Blues fan rooting for the likes of Brett Hull and Al MacInnis and these days he’s gotten to know a handful of the current group, including David Backes with whom he does some charity work.
That’s why the Toronto Blue Jays left-hander wasn’t too thrilled with the first round of the NHL playoffs, when the defending Stanley Cup champions came storming back after losing the first two games win the best-of-seven series.
During the winter Buehrle recruits a few baseball players to join Backes, who brings out some of his Blues teammates, to help with a fundraiser for an animal shelter in the veteran pitcher’s hometown of St. Charles, Mo.
“He and his wife have done work with them for a while and we help them out a little bit,” said Buehrle. “They take in animals and try to get them adopted out. We just help out when we can.”
So Buehrle's disappointment about the Blues' ouster runs at a couple of different levels.
Still, he was willing to offer up his picks for the second round of NHL playoffs against those of fellow pitcher and resident Washington Capitals fan Brett Cecil, who went 3-5 with his predictions to sportsnet.ca in the opening stage. Josh Johnson went 5-3 in the first round but is rehabbing in Florida.
Like any loyal fan, Cecil had picked his team to go all the way but has had to rethink things. Below are their choices for the second round of the NHL post-season:
No. 1 Pittsburgh Penguins vs. No. 7 Ottawa Senators
Buehrle - Pittsburgh, got to go with the top seed here, the one-two punch of Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby. They're tough.
Cecil - That's a tough one because I'm not doubting Pittsburgh's a good team, I just don't like them. I'm going to go Penguins, I guess. I'm going to slap myself for that one.
No. 4 Boston Bruins vs. No. 6 New York Rangers
Buehrle - Tough choice here, both coming off Game 7s, but I'm going to go with the Rangers. I feel like they're coming together at right time.
Cecil - I'm going Rangers to the end because since they did beat my Capitals, I want to see the team that beat my team go all the way. If we lose in the first round to the Stanley Cup champions it takes a bit of the misery out of it.
No. 1 Chicago Blackhawks vs. No. 7 Detroit Red Wings
Buehrle - I'll go with Chicago, playing there, getting to know some of those guys, I think they're the better team. Detroit snuck in and they're older so I'll go with the Blackhawks.
Cecil - Chicago, just an overall good team, great goalie and all four lines pretty much can do damage.
No. 5 Los Angeles Kings vs. No. 6 San Jose Sharks
Buehrle - I'll go with L.A., they walked over my Blues pretty bad after getting down 2-0 and they're pretty tough at home. They'll have home ice so that's probably going to help them out, they're a tough team and they went through it last year, so they know what to do.
Cecil - Oooh, man. This is going to be a tough one but I'm going to go with San Jose, no particular reason, they're both good teams, just a guess. That's anyone's series.