Wednesday, May 03, 2006

First Round Review; Second Round Preview

Well, out of the four series in the East, I was right on three of the four, with Montreal being the only mark against me. I got one exacta in the Buffalo/Philly series, but off on the others. However, I did get the Montreal/Carolina games right, but didn't get the team.

So, let's see if I fare better than the first round, and maybe get some exactas.

(1) Ottawa Senators vs. (4) Buffalo Sabres: Ottawa wins in six games
This is going to be an exciting series, there's no doubt about that. These teams are very matched-up together and really should be interesting. The only thing that is different is that the Senators defense is probably better than the Sabres defense. Guys like Zdeno Chara and Wade Redden command the play and are able to be a difference maker in most games. The Sabres have a fairly young defensive crew in the likes of Brian Campbell and Henrik Tallinder could be the weakness for the Sabres in this series.

(2) Carolina Hurricanes vs. (3) New Jersey Devils: New Jersey wins in six games
Though Cam Ward really carried the Hurricanes through the first round, they didn't play a team that has the offensive prowess that the Devils have. Patrik Elias, Scott Gomez, and Brian Gionta have been spectacular in the playoffs with Jamie Langenbrunner and John Madden chipping in as true role players. Rod Brind'Amour and Eric Staal will really have to step up their game like they did in the last couple of games against Montreal and they could put up a fight.


In the West, I got one game right, probably like some others did. The Sharks allowed me to not get shutout, but no exactas. This round, seeing who's playing in net, how the teams are playing and all that excuse jazz people like to use. So let's take a look at the wild, wild west.

(5) San Jose Sharks vs. (8) Edmonton Oilers: San Jose wins in seven games
You can't really call the Sharks win an upset, as it is like an 8/9 game in the NCAA championship. However, Vesa Toskala was lights out in his four wins. Dwayne Roloson hasn't been too bad either, but we have yet to see the best of Joe Thornton and Jonathan Cheechoo. The Oilers will need to counter with everything including the kitchen sink. Ales Hemsky, Sergei Samsonov, and Fernando Pisani have played great, but they'll have to be better than great to get anything past Toskala.

(6) Anaheim Mighty Ducks vs. (7) Colorado Avalanche: Anaheim wins in six
The Avalanche have played great in the first round, but something tells me it's because Jose Theodore played rather craptastic. Joe Sakic, Alex Tanguay, Milan Hejduk, and Andrew Brunette were the main cogs, but if there's anything the Ducks can do, it's shut down great lines. Teemu Selanne and Andy McDonald were getting back on their game in the end of the series with Calgary, while Ilya Bryzgalov has been a beast for the Ducks in net. This series will play out in the first two games.

The Conference Semifinals start on Friday and it should be a great time of year for any hockey fan. Even if your team is not in it, watch anyway, because it's usually when there are dark horses when the true stars start to shine through.

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