Thursday, April 20, 2006

2006 Stanley Cup Playoff Predictions - Round 1

The playoffs begin today, so.. just like last year, here's my interpretation and predictions of the first round.




Western Conference

Detroit v. Edmonton
This isn't the same Oilers team that the Red Wings are used to pushing around. The Oilers coach is so tough, he'll rip your tongue out and taunt you with it. The Oilers, with thanks to the CBA, were allowed to acquire players such as Pronger and Peca. But Detroit did some tweaking and kept their core in tact. It's Yzerman last run so expect the Wings to be motivated just for that.
Prediction: Wings in 6

Dallas v. Colorado
Well, we are assured that one of these teams won't make it to the finals. Both teams were once the powerhouses of the Western Conference, but now have to earn their keep. Colorado is still finding a replacement for Patrick Roy and they hope Theodore and his great head of hair will finally be just that. Colorado is also struggling with the loss of Forsberg to free agency and Marek Svatos to injury. The Stars have had a quiet season as far as national press attention gets, but they are solid and well tuned. Turco is the key here as he has been the goalie that the franchise hoped he was going to be.
Prediction: Stars in 7

Calgary v. Anaheim
Calgary is going to mount all the hopes of Canada and it's prime minister on it's back for getting to the finals again and bringing the Cup back home. Calgary retooled since it's last Cup run is built by Amonte and players who work a well-coached system. Goalie "Kipper" isn't the hot goaltender that carried them through, but this year the team won on merit and his efforts wasn't that needed. Speaking of hot goaltenders carrying through, Anaheims "Giggy" doesn't see the same team in front of him that he had during his run. Neidermyer is going to give that vet leadership that the Ducks franchise needs. Prediction: Calgary in 5

Nashville vs San Jose
Too bad these two teams couldn't meet in the Conference final. "Two teams enter, one leaves" should be the marquee slogan. I'm really impressed by San Jose with scoring machines Cheechoo and Thorton running on all cylinders. I'm also pleased that Nashville is getting to the playoffs after it's struggling expansion years. The Preds were able to bring in free agents after the lockout, but took for granted that Vokoun would be there in the end of the year. San Jose breaks the tie with deep goaltending.
Prediction: Sharks in 5

Eastern Conference

Tampa Bay v. Ottawa
This is what Tampa has been waiting for. This is going to be interesting how this team acts as "defending champs". Tortorella knows how to motivate his players, but they knocked down "the wall" for this years playoff run. Ottawa is solid in all areas except goaltending too, but sometimes the best defense is a great offense. Prediction: Ottawa in 5

Carolina v. Montreal
The Carolina Hurricanes were another team that was allowed to grow from the post-lockout setup. They have the nice mix of core veterans, young stars, and reliable goaltending. Montreal has the power of intimidation by just putting on the jersey. It's a large study in contrast to the two teams history. New 'Canes versus the Old Habs. The 'Canes have struggled against Montreal, but as long as Ribiero isn't up to his old tricks, the canes are built to survive - eventually. Prediction: Hurricanes in 7

NY Rangers v. New Jersey
Atlantic Division was supposed to go to the Rangers. They had it in their iron grip the whole year, but out of nowhere comes the New Jersey Devils to streak a few late wins and walk away with the division. Did the Euro-Rangers take things for granted? Calder candidate Henrik Lundqvist rested down the stretch, so he'll be ready for the long playoff haul on a full tank of gas. Jersey is surviving on the sheer willpower of Martin Brodeur. Does Brodeur have enough in the tank? Prediction: Euro-Rangers in 7

Buffalo v. Philadelphia
What? Buffalo in the post-season? How in the hell did this happen? Answer: Hot goaltender. Miller and Biron have kept them in the close one goal games. How do you think they'll do against a high powered Flyers team who knows a trick or two on how to get all the calls to go their way. "Floppah" Forsberg will skate into the Sabres' sticks, fall down, and then the Sabre-metrics will get the 2-for-tripping. Nice scam you've got running here, Bobby Clarke. Antero Niittymaki is already tested by long successful playoff runs in the AHL. Look to him to keep the Flyers alive. Sorry, Buffalo, better luck next year.Prediction: Flyers in 4
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