It has come down to this. The upstart Edmonton Oilers from the Western conference vs. the Carolina Hurricanes from the Eastern conference for all the marbles. The Edmonton Oilers have enjoyed an incredible run lead by their seemingly unflappable Goaltender Dwayne Roloson, against whom the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim may wish to file charges of Grand Larceny after what he did to them in the Conference Finals. The Carolina Hurricanes used their intangibles ( leadership, experience, determination) to ultimately defeat the Buffalo Sabres in the East. I do realize I have picked against the Oilers 3 straight times and been wrong each time, but I just have to do it again. All due respect to the Oilers, but the clock is about to strike midnight on this Cinderella story. I did have the opportunity to speak with Oilers’ GM Kevin Lowe during the series vs. Anaheim, he still has that same humble yet confident demeanor he had as a player. Kevin Lowe raised the Cup six times during his playing career; the first five with Edmonton, the last in 1994 as a member of the New York Rangers. This confident attitude seems to have filtered down through the present Oilers roster, as the they just keep on rolling, the Oilers do have the pieces in place to contend for many years to come.
The Carolina Hurricanes were the only team in this year’s playoffs to really live up to the expectations. Carolina finished 2nd overall in the East, and have continued to be great in the playoffs, the only surprise being the play of Rookie goaltender Cam Ward who has answered the call, and played with a poise far beyond his years.
The difference in the Finals will be the veterans on the roster of the ‘Canes. With the likes of Rod Brind’Amour, Doug Weight, Mark Recchi, Ray Whitney, and Cory Stillman up front, as well as speedy Bret Hedican anchoring the defense along with Mike Commodore, Carolina has too many players who can come through in the clutch. Despite the many combined years of service, only Mark Recchi (1990-1991 Pittsburgh Penguins) has ever raised the Cup. It’s time for all these boys to have their day (although I’m sure Chris Pronger would strongly disagree). The “Canes are about to smell the roses. Let’s here it for the South; Tampa won it all in 2004, now the ‘Canes….the newest Hockey Hot(and muggy)bed…..Only in America. See ya’

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