all, I want to thank
Versus in the U.S. for their outstanding hockey coverage while I was away.
Although I still missed a lot of the action, I have to say, I was not expecting
to be able to sit on a balcony in Miami and be able to watch playoff hockey of
any sort. For some reason, there was something just not right about the whole
thing, but then again, this from somebody who in the early 90s used to catch the
games on Satellite in Bermuda of all places, so I digress. Just a suggestion
for the various executives at the station – there are Canadians who watch while
on vacation, perhaps more coverage of the Canadian teams would be a good thing.
I was able to see most of the Calgary-San Jose series, one game of the
Ottawa-Pittsburgh series, and virtually none of the Montreal-Boston series
(which was one of the best of the first round) – more Canadian teams, please!!
folks, I’m back safe
and sound from Florida, and the NHL has a real treat in store for us – four
outstanding playoff series showcasing four great rivalries, all having the
ability to go the distance – and I think they will. Let’s get it on!
vs #6 Philadelphia
ironic how in both conferences the #1, #2, #5 and #6 seeds all advanced to the
second round? I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen this happen, yet here we are!
much surprise to see
Montreal make it through their first round series against Boston, but I was
surprised it took seven games to decide. Philadelphia-Washington, however, I
did expect to go seven games, and it did – even went to overtime, with Joffrey
Lupul forever etching his name into Stanley Cup Playoff history with the
winner. Who knew he had it in him a couple of years ago when he used to hit the
post five times a game in Edmonton? Too bad for Alex Ovechkin, but he’ll be
going to hear me say this a lot: this series will be a dandy!
Montreal should win: 1st
overall in the East, they still have the best power play in the entire league
throughout the first round – they have the loudest (and evidently the most
destructive) fans, and they have arguably the best goaltender of the first round
– Carey Price. We all know his accolades – 1st round draft pick,
Canadian junior gold medal, Calder Cup MVP, just to name a few. What I can’t
believe is why he was passed on for the Calder trophy as league’s best rookie,
but I’m not too sure he played enough games to even be considered. I can
guarantee you this much, had he played the entire season in Montreal he’d be the
undisputed winner, hands down. Then again, Jonathan Toews didn’t play the
entire season either. Am I missing something here?
Philadelphia could win:
Keep playing exactly how they did against Washington. Even though I do believe
the Habs are way deeper than the Capitals were (with all due respect to Mr.
Ovechkin), and even though they have a way better goalie, Martin Biron has held
his own. I need to quit forgetting the Flyers have Jason Smith, a proven
warrior on defense in his own right. He’s barely visible because he gets the
puck out of his end so quickly you hardly know he’s back there. Philly does
have the right mix of youth (Mike Richards, Scotty Upshall) and veteran
leadership (Smith, Derian Hatcher, Daniel Briere) to make some noise. With Lupul
on the score sheet now, who knows?
I get the
feeling I’ve entered a time warp and ended up back in the 1970s – and we all
know how good the Habs were back then with a young Ken Dryden. Could this
be a case of déjà vu? Do you get the feeling the Forum Ghosts have finally
found their way into the confines of the Bell Centre, or will the Spectrum Ghost
herself, Kate Smith, make a monumental comeback?
Canadiens in 7
Pittsburgh vs #5 New York Rangers
and their dog was rooting for a Sidney Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin match up, we
ended up with Crosby vs. a dog (Sean Avery). Careful what you wish for.
Pittsburgh should win:
For the same reasons they won round one in a sweep – great scoring threats from
Crosby, Geno (Evgeni Malkin) and Marian Hossa; great leadership from Gary
Roberts; and ultimately, two players who can handle Avery and his antics –
Georges Laraque and Jarkko Ruutu. Has Marc-Andre Fleury ever played better?
York could win:
does his job and draws penalties, and if Jaromir Jagr can remain interested long
enough to be able to get on the scoreboard. Henrik Lundqvist was great against
New Jersey, he’ll need to be outstanding against the Penguins. The x-factor
will be Brendan Shanahan – can he lead the Rangers to what could be a dark horse
trip to the semi-finals?
to be a dandy series!
Penguins in 7
vs #6 Colorado
waiting for this rematch ever since Patrick Roy retired. The only thing missing
from this series is Roy himself, Steve Yzerman and Claude Lemieux! The modern
age rivalry is back!
Nicklas Lidstrom can shoot and score from anywhere – even centre ice. He’s done
it before, and he did it again to help sink Nashville. Is it any wonder why
he’s won so many Norris trophies and is a front runner again? Has anybody told
Chris Osgood he’s 35 years old? He’s playing like he did when he was 25! Ditto
for Chris Chelios and his youthful 46! Do we really need to ask who in the hell
is this guy Johan Franzen anymore? Probably the best news for the Wings –
Dominik Hasek won’t be the starter as he couldn’t stop a beach ball in round 1.
Colorado could win:
Get Peter Forsberg back from his recurring groin problem as soon as possible.
Keep getting production from Joe Sakic, Ryan Smyth and Paul Stastny. This team
probably surprised a lot of people in their six game victory over Minnesota, but
as I already said, short of Lemieux and Roy, this team is a shadow of the 1996
Stanley Cup winner. Do they have Uwe Krupp’s address and phone number?
dandy series coming up!
Red Wings in 7
#2 San Jose
vs #5 Dallas
each other eight times in the regular season, and could potentially face each
other 7 more times before it’s all said and done – this time it’s not for the
Pacific Division, it’s for the right to move on to the Conference finals.
Jose should win:
It’s time for the Sharks to advance beyond one or two rounds – if they can’t get
motivated for this series, they have no hope of ever making it anywhere. The
time is now. Joe Thornton and Jonathan Cheechoo are clicking again, Patrick
Marleau may get shaken but not stirred (do a Google for round 1 hit from Cory
Sarich). Evgeni Nabokov is a Vezina trophy candidate. Jeremy Roenick has been
simply awesome and seems to be on a mission.
They only eliminated the defending Stanley Cup Champions from Anaheim, so
they’re not to be taken lightly. Marty Turco finally seems to be the goalie the
Stars always knew he was. Stu Barnes and Mike Modano are the heart of the team,
and that guy named Brad Richards, he isn’t bad either. If they could ever get
Sergei Zubov back in their lineup they’d be lethal, but quite frankly, do they
even need him? Stephane Robidas must be making people in Montreal take notice,
when they're not too busy starting fires on St. Catherine Street.
And do you know what? This series
will be a dandy!!
Sharks in 7
you have it, predictions for round two – As always, I’ll be back for the
semi-finals, and thankfully I’ll actually get to see some of these games,
they’re going to be great! So whatever you do, don’t blink! And don’t forget,
as you probably know by now, I blog during most of the games, so if you’re not
near a TV, or vacationing in Florida, this will be your best bet to keep up with
all the action.
More Puckin' Around...