So kids, one upset in each conference, although many will argue that the Ducks over the Sharks wasn’t much of an surprise. The Ducks proclaim they are not really an eighth seed and after their performance in the Shark Tank, it’s hard to argue. But in many ways the Ducks were a perfect foil to a Sharks team that has been on cruise control since January. I don’t see Anaheim pulling off the same feat against the Red Wings. For one thing, the Wings have a power play and assuming the Ducks just can’t help themselves, then I think Detroit buries them in six.
The Vancouver/Chicago match-up presents a much more interesting challenge. These teams match up really well, with goaltending, defense and offense all functioning at elite levels. One could argue that we have the better goaltender and Chicago could fire back with the argument that their goal production is superior. The fact that the Hawks handled Calgary doesn’t mean much. The Flames were decimated at the end and had to rely on the good sense and offensive production of Bertuzzi.
The truth is, I think that the series against Calgary has given the Hawks an unrealistic view of what playoff hockey is all about. So, I’ll give the nod to our boys based on Luongo, the Sedins, Kesler, Burrows and character. The Canucks will surprise the Hawks in five.
The east looked to be a lock for the top four teams until Jersey discombobulated with a minute twenty-two to go.
Marty Brodeur can be forgiven for Jokenen’s goal…cross ice, one-timers are nearly impossible to stop (unless your last name is Luongo) but Marty should have had the winner Staal fired under his arm.
Pundits like Pierre Maguire said that people would have to be insane to pick Carolina over the Devils…but Jersey was another team that went on cruise control after Marty came back. The Devils were the reverse of the Canucks who took a few games to re-focus with Roberto and Mats added into the line-up. Brodeur came back from injury and won handily the first few games…and then the cracks started to show. I think Carolina has been under-rated all season and I think they will give the Bruins as much as they can handle. So much will hinge on Thomas and I’m still not sold on him. I think the Canes could pull off another upset if it goes seven.
The Rangers tried to trap their way into the final eight but Washington eventually broke Lundquist down. It was a great shot by Federov (And where the hell has that been the last five years?) and the Caps were full value for the series comeback. But Pittsburgh has a Russian of their own (and Malkin did win the scoring title) as well as Sidney…the second best scorer on the Penguins. And I think that Washington still has goaltending problems and could well break Mr. Kerster’s heart going down in six to the young guns in Pittsburgh.
And as regular readers will remember, I’ve always said that only suckers make predictions.
Ah, but still, it’s the best sport in the world.