Friday, April 21, 2006

Bring On The Cup, Fearless Predictions Pt. 2

Yesterday I went through the Eastern Conference and surmised that Carolina would come out on top in the East. But now we turn our efforts into the Western Conference where Nashville made a lot of noise, but Detroit quietly became the league’s best winning the President’s Trophy.

So without further ado…

Western Conference Round 1

Edmonton at Detroit – The Oilers may have had delusions of grander at the beginning of the season, but now after squeeking into to the playoffs they settle for playing the power-house Red Wings. Edmonton makes a run at it but in the end, poor defense and questionable goaltending does the Oilers in.

Result: Detroit wins in 6 games.

Colorado at Dallas – The biggest rivalry in the west besides Detroit and Dallas maybe this one between the Aves and Stars. The Avalanche have been beaten up this season and made probably the worst trade ever for Jose Theodore. That aside, the rivalry of these two western giants will bring out the passion and emotion of playoff hockey in both of these clubs. I smell upset.

Result: Colorado wins in 7 games.

Anaheim at Calgary – I think if you asked Brian Burke, GM for the Ducks, that he would be battling for a playoff spot, he may have thought it a pipe dream. But the fact remains that Anaheim somehow found their way into the post season. I give Burke another year before they start doing damage for the Cup however.

Result: Calgary wins in 5 games.

San Jose at Nashville – 6 months ago you would have thought that the Predators were for real. That was until the west found ways to beat the upstart Preds. On the other side San Jose seemed to come out of no where and the Joe Thornton trade has made this team a contender. And with an injured Tomas Vokoun, Nashville won’t have much bite.

Result: San Jose wins in 5 games.

Western Conference Round 2

Colorado at Detroit – Oh baby, this is going to be good. Aves plus Wings equals carnage! The history of these two teams in the playoffs has been spectacular. But the Avalanche wasted all their energy fighting off Dallas. Look for them to just get beat up by the Red Wings. Too bad.

Result: Detroit wins in 4 games.

San Jose at Calgary – These teams will make the late games interesting in the second round. San Jose’s offense is hitting a groove, but Calgary is making more noise with goaltending than goals. If Calgary wants to move on, they will have to find a way to stop Thornton and Jonathan Cheechoo and find their offense. I doubt they can do both.

Result: San Jose wins in 6 games.

Western Conference Final

San Jose at Detroit – Sharks fans will be happy to know that it isn’t always the best team on paper that is the “best”, but the team that has determination and great chemistry seems to go out on top. As much as the Red Wings look poised to win another Conference banner and fight for another Cup, San Jose will surprise the critics. I smell a major upset.

Result: San Jose wins in 7 games.

And know the moment your waiting for, my fearless prediction for the Stanley Cup winner…

Stanley Cup Final

San Jose at Carolina – Both these teams have had the highs and lows of a difficult season, but both are high on talent and determination. Goaltending will be the key to winning the Stanley Cup. Martin Gerber for Carolina must be playing his best if the Hurricanes are to win, and Evgeni Nabokov has to be no slouch either. The Sharks have come close to the finals only to fall due to injuries. Carolina has been the dance before, only to be upset by Detroit. Both teams know what it means to play for the Cup. But in the end the team with the most experience, and what I believe better coaching, will win.

Result: Carolina is your Stanley Cup Champion in 6 games.

So that’s your winner. I know there are a couple of eye openers in the western bracket, but I thought I needed to be true to what I know. Plus a little gut feeling doesn’t hurt either.

San Jose has been solid in their remaining games. They can catch teams off guard to make it to the Finals. Detroit fans well probably burn down my house, but over confidence has been a Cup killer for teams every year. Red Wings are the hands down favorite in the west, no question. But can they translate to what they have done during the season to success in the post season. That will be the real question.

In the East Ottawa could but a cog in my playoff machine if goaltending comes through. But Carolina just seems right to me. And Buffalo has to figure if they have come this far, they might as well be in the Conference finals. Another big threat that can figure into the east is New Jersey, with the most experienced goaltending in the post season.

I can see many of the series going to seven games than what I predicted here, and in that case most of those outcomes could be coin flips for the winners. I do think that every series will be exciting and special teams will be important as the League gives a stern warning to the officials to call the games like they did during the regular season. That means plenty of penalties.

Bring on the Cup, and may the best team win! Get excited and get loud. Even if your team isn’t there, you can’t help but pick a favorite. And why not? It’s playoff time!

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