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Thursday, May 04, 2006 

NHL Second Round Preview

As Predicted Here - Ducks In 7

The brackets for the second round of the NHL playoffs are set, as the final game of the first round came to a close tonight. And I must say - what a relief. Thanks to my new hero's in Anaheim, and the fact that no one reminded the Flames that they had a game tonight, there will be no battle of Alberta to suffer through this year. The Calgary Flames were sent packing with a 3-0 shut out loss at the hands of the Ducks and their rookie goaltender it what couldn't be described as anything other than an all around boring affair. I am anything but glad that I said yesterday I would set the time aside today to watch this game, but at least it'll give me a greater appreciation for the Flamesless playoffs going forward. Speaking of which, lets look ahead now at the upcoming playoff series.

Eastern Conference

(1) Ottawa vs (4) Buffalo - Starts Friday

No upsets in the East, and you would be hard pressed to find anyone that's surprised by that. These are the 4 Eastern teams, and this is where they belong. This series will be a doozy. Their season series went as follows:

Ottawa 5 Buffalo 0
Ottawa 10 Buffalo 4
Ottawa 6 Buffalo 1
Buffalo 2 Ottawa 1
Ottawa 4 Buffalo 2
Ottawa 3 Buffalo 1
Buffalo 5 Ottawa 4
Buffalo 6 Ottawa 2

That's 56 goals in 8 games. On average that works out to a 5-2 game. Briere looked amazing in the first round, but so did the big line in Ottawa. Logic says that the Sens should walk away with this one. More big names, the number 1 seed, winning record head to head, better defense, etc. On top of that, I'm not exactly sure how the Sabres are able to win. But they keep winning, and the keep winning big. Lindy Ruff has clearly shown that he is the best regular season coach in the NHL, and has carried that into surprise playoff success in the past. I'm going to give Lindy and Ryan Miller (I have yet to hear a suitable explanation for how the best American goalie by far was not added to the Olympic team) the edge in this one, and pick a huge upset. For once, I can't wait for a Sabres series. This one will be something. Sabres in 7.

(2) Carolina vs (3) New Jersey - Starts Saturday

Patrick Elias had 11 points in their 4 game sweep. Brodeur allowed 4 goals on 118 shots. He is reminding me right now of the 2003 playoffs where he finished with 7 shutouts and a .934 save percentage. Only right now it's at .965. Cam Ward looked decent in his starts, but Montreal without Koivu in the lineup is not the same as New Jersey. Not even close. Devils in 5.

Western Conference

(5) San Jose vs (8) Edmonton - Starts Sunday

For the first time I can remember, the "underdogs" won all 4 of the series in the West. I say that in parenthesis because in my mind the Sharks and the Ducks were actually the favourites in their series. They had the better teams, and the better performances in the months leading up to the playoffs and their victories are no surprise to me. Despite everyone disagreeing with me, I picked the Sharks to be the Western Conference Champions, and now they seem to be set up to have the easiest route possible to the finals. No Detroit. No Dallas. No Calgary. A first round match up against a weak team whose strength in net was injured for the playoffs. A second round match against a team that barely got into the playoffs, and plays a weak defensive defenseman nearly 30 minutes a game. Marleaus line loves coming out of the corners, they will have a field day with him. The Oilers had a big upset in the first round, but their high wont carry them further than 5 games against a team they just don't match up well with. Dwayner may get them into game six, but I'm still going to say Sharks in 5.

(6) Anaheim vs (7) Colorado - Starts Friday

Imagine being the number 6 seed and having home ice advantage in the second round of the playoffs. I don't have the stats, but I don't remember this ever happening before. Luckily, though, the Ducks and Sharks were the best Western Conference teams in the second half of the season, so it is anything but undeserved. As I said before "the Ducks and Sharks are probably the best teams in the West", and that Detroit and Dallas aren't going to want any part of them in the playoffs. As it turns out, they'll never even get the chance. Colorado, on the other hand, are finally playing like the team they should have been all year. Playoff Theodore has also made an appearance, It's hard to pick a rookie over playoff Theodore, even with Selanne and McDonald flying high. Calgary with it's weak scoring options took the Ducks to 7 games. There are 10 guys on the Av's that can score on you in a number of different ways. As much as I hate to do it, if Theo holds up I'm going to go with the Av's in 6. I like the Ducks lineup, and if they keep it together it will be them and the Sharks battling it out for a few years in the West, but I think the Av's have one more shot at it this year. You bet Sakic will be on his game for sure. He'd love to show he can go all the way without Forsberg before he retires. That should be enough to take the Mighty out of the Ducks forever. Avalanche in 6.

i'll never understand why you hate canada so much. i thought you were supposed to be sports guy NORTH.

kent, i unlike some other readers don't think you are anti-canadian just because you tell it like it is.some of your readers still think the LEAFS have a shot at the stanley cup this year.

THANK YOU! finally someone around here who knows what's going on. It's not my fault that the Flames play the most boring hockey around (seriously, have you ever seen such a sorry game 7 in your life?), and I certainly can't be blamed for the GM gaffes in Vancouver and Toronto. On top of it all, I'm certainly not going to say that Ottawa and Edmonton will meet in the finals just because they are Canadian based teams. None of this means I hate Canada, though. The only country's I hate are Pakistan, Scotland and Luxemburg, and they all know why.

Thanks again for coming to my defense. I'd thank you properly, but I have no idea who left that message. For some reason, my blog has fallen victim to "annonymous messaging syndrome" of late. I have never come accross another blog out there whose readers are just too lazy to throw a name in there. It's really quite remarkable, and I actually take pride in that. If I cant get people that lazy to bother to read and comment on my writing, then I must be doing something right :)

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