Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The Playoffs, Sans Maple Leafs

The playoff seedings are set in stone now, after the regular season wrapped up yesterday. The Toronto Maple Leafs will not be participating this year, of course, but perhaps that is for the best. One could only imagine them being swept in the first round by a team like Ottawa.

Anyway, without further ado, 63 Years and Counting presents its NHL playoff preview


Ottawa (1) vs Tampa Bay (8)
This series finds the would be champs, Ottawa, taking on the defending champs, Tampa. How the mighty have fallen, on both accounts. This year's version of Tampa Bay pales in comparison to the one that went all the way the last time anybody competed for Lord Stanley's mug. Martin "Short Stuff" St. Louis is hardly MVP worthy this time around, and a Sean Burke/John Grahame combo in net most definitely does not equal one Nikolai "Follow the Money" Khabibulin. Ottawa, much like Toronto did, has realised that relying on an aging goaltender was perhaps not the best idea, and must turn to Ray Emery to take them to the big dance. The Sens are hardly the sparkling specimens of hockey prowess they were to start the season, but are still a head above the Lighting talent wise. However, as a life long Toronto fan, I am obligated to cheer against the Sens. But my dislike for the Rideau Riders doesn't make me stupid. Ottawa wins in six.

Carolina (2) vs Montreal (7)
What happened to Carolina? These guys were the poster boys of the new NHL, but now they're just another team in the pack. Was losing Eric Cole that big a blow? Was trading for Mark Recchi that bad an idea? And whatever happened to that Eric Staal guy? Montreal has the momentum in this one for sure. The rumblings out of Montreal seem to indicate that David "Swiss Cheese" Aebischer is favoured to get the nod as the starting goalie. Whether that is a plus or minus, I leave up to you to decide. Montreal wins in seven.

New Jersey (3) vs New York (6)
The Devils won their division in style, waiting till the very last day of the season to do it, and are rewarded with a round against the slumping Rangers. Dubbed the Battle of the Hudson by sports pundits far wiser than I, this should be a series where New Jersey can flex their playoff muscles. Martin Brodeur gives the Devils a huge advantage in any playoff series, especially against a New York team that lost its last five games leading up to the playoffs. Can Jaromir Jagr carry this team past the resurgent Devils? Personally, I hope so, but don't hold your breath. New Jersey wins in five.

Buffalo (4) vs Philadelphia (5)
I really like this match up. Either team could realistically end up on top. The Flyers aren't quite as good as past incarnations, but they are still the Flyers and demand some respect. If Peter Forsberg can stay healthy and play at 100%, I see this one going Phillies' direction. But really, it could go either way. Philadelphia in seven.


Detroit (1) vs Edmonton (8)
What happened to the Oilers? Bringing in Chris Pronger and Micheal Peca was supposed to stop Edmonton's bad habit of squeeking into the playoffs. Not so, I suppose. As such, the Oils are going to be in tough to beat my favourite to win the Cup, the Red Wings. The Wings are just too good to be taken down by an Edmonton team backed by by Dwayne Roloson. Detroit wins in five.

Dallas (2) vs Colorado (7)
The Dallas Stars, the NHL's most under appreciated team, shouldn't have too too much trouble dispatching Colorado. And while Jussi Jokinen's ridiculous shoot out record won't be any help in the post season, this is a very good Stars team, and nobody would be surprised to see Mike Modano hoisting the Stanley Cup in a few months time. Not that the Avs are a bad team per se, but Joe Sakic isn't quite what he used to be, and Jose Theodore has yet to prove himself as the second coming of Patrick Roy. Dallas wins in six.

Calgary (3) vs Anaheim (6)
I will be the first to admit, I do not get the whole Calgary experience. It appears that they have managed to convince most of the sporting world that they are the real deal, but there remains one man unconvinced of Calgary's domination. Me. This team relies so much so on its goalie Mikka Kiprusoff that they managed to score one of the league's lowest goal totals and still win their division. Which makes a red hot team like Anaheim the perfect candidate to dust off the sluggish Flames. Anaheim wins in six.

Nashville (4) vs San Jose (5)
I would have taken the red hot Sharks over Nashville whether the Preds had lost their star goalie Tomas Vokoun or not. Vokoun's injury just makes it that much clearer that San Jose will come out on top. Joe "Art Ross" Thornton and Jonathan "Rocket Richard" Cheechoo are just too dominating for it to end any other way. Not that Nashville won't make it close, but in the end, there's only one team that can advance from this pair. San Jose in six.

And there you have it, 63 Years and Counting's 100% guaranteed playoff predictions (We don't mean to brag, but it looks like
someone agrees with us). Just don't come crying to us when they turn out all wrong, and an angry loan shark is practicing for his chiropractory degree on your kneecaps. You've been warned.

In other news, following a matinee loss to the Yankees today by Toronto, the series is split 1-1. 63 Years and Counting would like to note that for yesterday's 10-5 win over the Yanks, the Rogers Centre was almost filled to capacity. 63 Years does not however find it pertinent to mention that the tickets cost all of 2$ for yesterday's game.

In other, other news, Mats Sundin's 4 point effort against the soon to be Las Vegas Penguins gives him 78 points through 70 games, his best showing in three or four years. It's good to have you back Mats.



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