Tuesday, April 08, 2003

Stanley Cup Opening Round Predictions

Okay.. for starters.. lemme just say that John Buccigross is a great guy... he has a great sense of humor and I think he sees things on the right side - if ya know what I mean.

The Stanley Cup Playoffs begins tomorrow night and people and pundits are ringing in with their predictions. I think I'll do the same.

Eastern Conference

Ottawa v. NY Islanders
Ottawa enters in with a few negatives. 1. The President's Trophy winners don't have an above average chance to win it all. The Detroit Red Wings were the first team to break that curse last year. 2. Ottawa is still strapped for cash, they need to win to earn more money. 3. Alexei Yashin is an Islander now. Their once top pick has come back wearing a new uniform. The Islanders have proven that they can win, but dealing Osgood to St. Louis will prove to be their downfall. Prediction: Ottawa in 6

New Jersey vs. Boston
Boston's managerial and upper management got a shake up when they fired Robie Ftorek their coach and the GM is now sitting in temporary. Glen Murray and the B's have been on a mission all season long to return the once proud franchise back to it's legendary status, New Jersey is riding on the hot goalie in Martin Brodeur. They also contain a lot of veterans from Dallas in a blockbuster trade a while back. The Devils are the experienced playoff franchise. Sorry Beantown, you'll get 'em next year. Prediction: Devils in 5

Tampa Bay vs. Washington
If you asked who the higher seed is in this series, you'd be surprised that Tampa Bay won the Southeastern division over their rivals Washington. Tampa has been quietly making waves thanks to their good goaltending in Graham and Khabibulin. Jaromir Jagr is "dying alive" with his skills in Washington and fighting the discomforting process of healing a broken wrist. Peter Bondra scored 2 goals in their last regular season game. Look for the Caps and my Uncle (in the PR office) to find a lightning rod and control the young and inexperienced 'Bolts. Prediction: Capitals in 4

Philadelphia vs. Toronto
The two teams that made the major deals to re-tool and improve for a serious playoff run find themselves against one another in the first round. Roenick has his buddy Amonte back and are playing well. Hitchcock has coached the Stanley Cup Stars; he knows what it takes to make it for the long haul. Toronto awaits their return on investment with goalie Ed Belfour and RW Owen Nolan. The Leafs look stronger and battle tested than Flyers goaltender Checkmanek. The Flyers are looking at another first round exit if Amonte and Roenick can't score. Prediction: Maple Leafs in 7.

Western Conference
Dallas vs. Edmonton
The Stars were the best team in the Western Conference earning the home ice advantage throughout the playoffs. The new world Oilers re-tooled themselves for a better showing in the playoffs this year. Dvorak for Carter will prove that it was a lopsided trade in favor of New York. Tommy Salo treats every shot like a Swedish meatball. Dallas has the kind of firepower to knock a few of those back in on 2nd and 3rd tries. Prediction: Stars in 6

Detroit vs Anaheim
The Mighty Ducks are the surprise team in the playoffs. Led by Peter Sykora and Paul Kariya, Anaheim is a scoring threat that could hold their own. However, Detroit is a team that has the right mix of age and youth. They can score like water off a mallard's back. Brett Hull scored over 700 goals for his career this season and won't hesitate to score some more. Detroit is the defending champions and will play like that through the series. Curtis Joseph is trying to achieve what he couldn't for Edmonton or Toronto. Maybe the ageless veterans on Detroit's team all retire at once for going out on top. Prediction: Wings in 4

Colorado vs. Minnesota
In a surprising turn of events, the Minnesota Wild fought hard to get a playoff berth in only their third season. The young team is lead by Slovak phenom Marian Gaborik and the defensive trap system. Colorado had a bum year losing Joe Sakic for most of the first part of the season due to injury. Patrick Roy hasn't looked like his old self this year and even let the team down when Minnesota won a few games at their expense. This is a tough call because Minnesota is good enough to shock some people, but Colorado has the dominant team. Prediction: Avalanche in 6

Vancouver vs. St. Louis
It's put up or shut up for Vancouver. The hottest team in the league scoring wise is Vancouver with Bertuzzi, Naslund and Brendan Morrison as the saviors of most fantasy league teams. They gave the defending champs Detroit a run for their money last year in the playoffs and the fans support their efforts to give it another go. St. Louis stands in their way this year bringing back captain Chris Pronger from injury. The Blues were treading water with the goaltending they had only to pick up Chris Osgood at the trading deadline. Also, look for newly acquired Mr. Candace Cameron (Valerie Bure) to make an impact in the playoffs. Prediction: Canucks in 5
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