It’s the top four ranked teams in the East, and the four bottom ranked teams in the West. This could be an interesting final. While the Eastern Conference seems the status quo, the Western Conference has been anything but predictable.
Colorado, San Jose, Edmonton and Anaheim have turned the West upside down with their upsets in their series. The biggest upset and probably the best series thus far by 8th seed Edmonton. Not only did they knock off the best team in the NHL, but have thrown a wrench into my fearless predictions.
With the Playoffs set to start again on Friday night, it’s time to again pick some winners and pick some losers. Since my Eastern Conference picks came out the way I pretty much thought they would, so let’s start there.
(4) Buffalo Sabres at (1) Ottawa Senators – The Sabres are on a high, a goal scoring high. Winning their series against Philadelphia 7-1 is a message to the Senators. “Here we come.” Senators will have to bear down and play a solid team that knows how to put the puck in the back of the net. Ottawa may have the regular season series with Buffalo well in hand (5-1-2), but it’s the playoffs and anything can happen. I look to see Senators have their hands full with a little Sabre rattling.
Result: Buffalo defeats Ottawa in 6 games.
(3) New Jersey Devils at (2) Carolina Hurricanes – Cam Ward not only saved the Hurricanes’ bacon, but also my fearless prediction. After a rocky start Carolina has stormed back to take their series against a solid Montreal Canadiens team. The Devils are the hottest team in the NHL right now winning 15 straight. Martin Brodeur will have to be even better against Carolina. But the Devils may have too much confidence for this one. I am sticking with my earlier prediction.
Result: Carolina defeats Devils in 5 games.
Wild, Wild, Western Conference
(8) Edmonton Oilers at (5) San Jose Sharks – In the biggest upset of the playoffs in the best series thus far, Edmonton knocked off NHL’s best team Detroit Red Wings. Dwayne Roloson’s play has put Edmonton into the second round. But they face a team that has been red hot since the trade for Joe Thornton. The Sharks are riding the Thornton train and it should take them far in the playoffs. Edmonton will have to continue to play with heart, because on paper, they don’t match up.
Result: San Jose defeats Edmonton in 7 games.
(7) Colorado Avalanche at (6) Anaheim Mighty Ducks – Colorado bought enough time for the return of Steve Konowalchuk to the squad. Konowalchuk should bring another weapon for thier offense. But the key in this game will be defense. The team that can shut down the other’s offense should be able to take this series. Teemu Selanne has to carry the Ducks on his shoulders, which may be tough with Rob Blake between him and the Aves goal. Goaltending in this series will be spotty, but shouldn’t be the factor to either one having a leg-up on the other.
Result: Anaheim defeats Colorado in 6 games.
Okay, let’s get down to brass tacks. It was literally a coin toss to decide who would win in both Western Conference Semifinals. The sexy pick would definitely be Edmonton to take out the Sharks, but San Jose is on such a good roll. In the East, things are progressing pretty much as planned, but it gets more interesting as we are getting closer to the Cup.
My Finals picks are still intact from my first predictions. All there is left to do is to strap on the skates and hit the ice.