Monday, April 09, 2007

The Best Time of Year has Arrived!

This is my favorite time of year, the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Great high-energy games every day just as the weather starts getting nice makes everything around me look that much better. Right to my first round predictions and I'll be linking to Scott Burnside's predictions for ESPN (East today, West tomorrow)-

Eastern Conference

Buffalo Sabres (1) vs NY Islanders (8)
The Sabres have been hot all season, managing to win games during a stretch when they had a lot of players lost to injury. Meanwhile, the Islanders squeaked into the playoffs needing help from other teams on the last days of the season to get in. Add to that the superior speed of Buffalo and the fact that the Islanders starting star goalie is injured and I think the Isles are in trouble. Sabres in 5.

New Jersey Devils(2) vs. Tampa Bay Lightning(7)

The Bolts are a fast team that has some great goal scorers while the Devils are a defensively disciplined team who don't score much, but can make life miserable for offensive minded teams. The big difference maker here is NJ goalie Martin Brodeur. He's had an incredible year, and it's not unheard of for a hot goalie to steal a series by themselves (witness the Ducks Giegre single-handedly sweeping the talented Red Wings a few years ago). Devils in 6.

Atlanta Thrashers (3) vs NY Rangers (6)
The Rangers have played great hockey since the All-Star break, and they added some peices that are really helping this team be able to play 4 lines, getting production from 3 of them. Goalie Hendrik Lundvquist has been a stud in net. Meanwhile, the Thrashers have some good skill players, but are not as good as they seem. They should be the 5th seed based on points, but they won their weak division so get the 3 spot. The way the Rangers are playing, they win in 6 (and I am very biased as a huge Rangers fan).

Ottawa Senators (4) vs Pittsburgh Penguins (5)

This should be a really fun series. Both teams finished the season with 105 points. The Sens have the experience and the Pens have the youth. Both teams have solid goal tending. I didn't see many Sens games myself, so I'm not real familiar with their play personally, but I did watch lots of Pens games, and I have to go with them. Sid "the Kid", Malkin and Staal are 3 exciting young players who can make their own scoring chances and quickly take advantage of mistakes by the other team. Penguins in 7.


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