The NHL is stewing, Kevin Lowe is celebrating, NBC is fiddling, Ottawa and Anaheim are prepairing, and Hockey Fans every where are watching. It's the Stanley Cup Finals, finally. NHL still would like to see it's bigger markets (NY, Det, Toronto, etc.) to make a finals, Kevin Lowe gets a first round pick from the Ducks for the next ten years, NBC will change the schedule at some point and I have a Hi-Def television and no Hi-Def service.
I didn't come close this year on picking a winner. I really thought Buffalo had a shot this year, but who would have guessed a hit on Chris Drury midway through the season would leave the Sabres gun shy. As far as Anaheim was concerned, I really thought that their goaltending was an issue. Instead, it's been a large plus when it was needed.
It's crunch time now, who lifts the Cup? Ottawa or Anaheim. Having some time to "research" (another way of saying falling asleep on the couch and forgetting to post), I have more of a feel for who might have the edge. One thing that makes this series tough to predict is that the Ducks and Senators don't have a history with one another for this season.
Some key players for Anaheim who have to preform well are J.S. Giguere and Teemu Selanne. Giguere will be playing against a much better offense than Detroit. Ottawa has the hottest offense on the ice right now thanks to Daniel Alfredsson and Jason Spezza. Selanne has to carry this team by example. I would expect the Duck defense to be solid through out the series, with Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger manning the blue line.
For Ottawa, Ray Emery will be tested and Danny Heatley has to play like he has been in the previous series. For Emery there will be much bigger bodies in front of him, a quicker counter attack, and thunderous shots through traffic from the blue line. Heatley must also continue to be a good two way player for the Senators to have a chance. While the Ducks defense is tough, the Senators are a little smaller back there, and forwards back checking will decide Ottawa's fate.
I predict that the Ottawa Senators will lift the Cup and bring it back to Canada in 6 games.
Anaheim is a big, tough, physical team. But I also think they look for the hit more than the goal. They haven't faced a team this post season that can dish it as good as them, until now. Ottawa has the toughness and the size to play with Anaheim, plus this team is playing the best hockey of anyone who made the playoffs this year. I felt that Detroit's offense turned cold, and Anaheim basically pounded their way to a victory. They will not be able to do that with an Ottawa team that can match them for size and speed. Any way you chop it, I really like Ottawa in this fight.