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Okay hockey fans, it's time for round 2!! Zaphod - 21/04/2004 04:14:01 PM

As a self-admitted hockey nut during playoff time, I feel the urge to talk hockey to whoever will listen. Therefore, I've decided to do it here. I recall ngallagher had a thread before the first round, about picking winners... unfortunately, that got abandoned when we switched to a new board a few weeks ago. However, I've decided to start up another discussion for those interested in making a few predictions, doing some at-home coaching, partisan cheering, etc.

In the first round, I picked 5 out of 8 series winners correctly (although 6 if you count the fact that I buckled under Messy's Philly fanaticism and changed my vote to Philly over New Jersey). At any rate, here's how I see the rest of the playoffs going down:

Eastern Conference

Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Montreal Canadiens

This one should be very good. The Canadiens are flying high (I didn't expect them to beat Boston, quite honestly, although I did guess it would go to 7), they're young, smart, and fast. Perrault just got better after they put him in the lineup, Kovalev somehow got good, and Theodore was solid enough to help the team capitalize on Boston's collapse.

However... the Lightning are also highly skilled, smart, fast, and young. The difference is, they play better as a team. I like St. Louis' attitude, I like Tortorella's attitude. The Canadiens could have the advantage that Khabibulin has never really proven himself in the playoffs, but Theodore's hot and cold so that can go both ways. I think the Lightning are too relentless and hungry to not carry out the potential they've shown.

Tampa in 6

Philadelphia Flyers vs. Toronto Maple Leafs

Another interesting one. This one really could go either way... I didn't really see the Flyers in the first round, but the way they took apart the Devils was impressive. My immediate reaction says they're going to decimate the Leafs, judging from the way they handled Jersey and the way the Leafs played against Ottawa. Belfour really was the only reason they won the series. And Esche has played well for Philly... was that just round 1, or is he the real deal? I dunno. The Flyers are big and tough, the Leafs are old and beat up. If Sundin can't come back, and if the Flyers bruise up the vulnerable Niewendyk, the Leafs could be in for some trouble. Still, the additions of Francis and Leetch to the team put some capable hands on board. When I remember the series these teams had last year, I think this one could be great. And Belfour can make the difference. However...

Flyers in 6

Keep in mind, of course, that despite these pragmatic picks, I'll be rooting for the Canadian teams all along.

Western Conference

Detroit Red Wings vs. Calgary Flames

Hmm... where to start on Detroit? A team full of superstars, all of whom are pretty explosive, but is it an issue of too many cooks? I think it might be... you can assemble a team of superstars, but that doesn't make them a team. Calgary has one superstar, possibly the best in the game these days, and a great goalie. Both of these players, as they showed in round 1, can inspire the rest of the team to play better. They have a solid young defensive core, and capable grinding, scoring forwards who can win faceoffs and hold their own - just what you want in the playoffs. Of course, they have injuries too... and, of course, Detroit has defensive pairings of Lidstrom and Schneider, Hatcher and Chelios, none of whom I'd want to go against. However, Kiprusoff has been the best goalie in the league all year, and although he wasn't outstanding in the first series, he was good. He'll be tested more in this series, and if he holds up, that bodes ill for the Wings, who in Joseph have a goalie who has always been good, but never proven himself deep into the playoffs. I think this is a series that will rest largely on the goaltenders.

Calgary in 7 - what can I say, there's just something about them that I like.

San Jose Sharks vs. Colorado Avalanche

Well. The Avs sure showed that the playoffs are totally a clean slate. After a stretch run that saw them play horribly, lose the division title to a Bertuzzi-less Canucks, and lose to a number of really bad teams, they played the surging Stars in the first round and took them apart. I retract what I suggested above about Iginla, actually - Forsberg is the best player in the league today when he's on top of things. Forsberg, Sakic, and Kariya (when he's healthy) are all in the top 10 forwards in the league, and one could make a case for Tanguay and Hejduk to be on that list as well. The Avs have firepower, and on top of that has a defensive core that is tough and can contribute to scoring.

That said, the Sharks handled St. Louis just as easily as the Avs did Dallas. They're a bit of an unknown, in that they have an underrated goalie and an unheard of team. They're just a solid team. That calls up the same question expressed above regarding Detroit - who wins, the team that plays like a team, or the team full of superstars? Well, I like to romanticize the ability of teamwork to move mountains, plus I really don't want to see a Detroit-Colorado conference final, so I'm gonna say

San Jose in 6

After this, I'll go with the same plan I had in the first round. Before the playoffs started, I picked all the right Western teams, and said in my long term predictions that San Jose would beat the Flames in the Conference Final. The difference is on the other side, where I had Ottawa beating Toronto (and eventually winning the cup - oops). Now I'll say that Tampa and Philly have a great series, and Tampa prevails. As for the finals, I know I'm getting ahead of myself, but it's fun to do... I'll say it's Tampa's year.

Anyone else got any ideas?


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Okay hockey fans, it's time for round 2!! - 21/04/2004 04:14:01 PM 125 Views
Im still sad The Preds didnt make it. <--Nashville fan! *NM* - 21/04/2004 04:14:52 PM 4 Views
Ahahahah <----Wings Fan *NM* - 21/04/2004 04:17:27 PM 2 Views
You mean the Islanders didn't move on? - 21/04/2004 04:17:06 PM 10 Views
My picks - 21/04/2004 04:19:12 PM 16 Views
Interesting... we'll see how that pans out. - 21/04/2004 04:42:56 PM 11 Views
My explanations of my picks. - 21/04/2004 05:45:10 PM 11 Views
yeah, I was just jokin' around - 21/04/2004 06:01:15 PM 5 Views
- 21/04/2004 06:10:51 PM 4 Views
Re: yeah, I was just jokin' around - 21/04/2004 07:45:01 PM 6 Views
Picks - 21/04/2004 05:36:01 PM 17 Views
hmm... goin' with the home teams, eh? - 21/04/2004 06:03:04 PM 8 Views
I hope Calgary rips the Red Wings apart. *NM* - 21/04/2004 07:42:05 PM 4 Views
Won't happen, the Wings got it *NM* - 21/04/2004 08:13:11 PM 3 Views
They probably do, but I still hope they lose. *NM* - 21/04/2004 10:10:14 PM 3 Views
Re: Okay hockey fans, it's time for round 2!! - 21/04/2004 06:49:23 PM 11 Views
Flyers all the way - 21/04/2004 07:58:46 PM 10 Views
Re: Okay hockey fans, it's time for round 2!! - 21/04/2004 10:31:40 PM 14 Views
Wow, that's an impressive first round resume! - 22/04/2004 12:23:20 PM 7 Views
Well, thanks *NM* - 23/04/2004 10:41:50 AM 2 Views
You had no faith - 22/04/2004 12:48:42 AM 14 Views
Well, my soul will be yours... - 22/04/2004 12:26:39 PM 6 Views
Re: Okay hockey fans, it's time for round 2!! - 22/04/2004 11:51:19 AM 14 Views
Sweetness. I was 7 for 8 on the first round, so let's see ... - 22/04/2004 09:28:43 PM 11 Views
As a Canadian hockey fan, I hope you're right. - 23/04/2004 12:16:16 AM 11 Views