PITTSBURGH in 6
BOSTON in 7
ANAHEIM in 7
VANCOUVER in 5
PENS vs CAPS
If the NHL knew anything about how to promote their Sport, your television would be flooded with promos of Sid the Kid vs. Alexander the Great. There would be banners, painted bus benches, billboards and sky-writing. This promises to be the type of high octane series which can make non hockey fans into casual hockey fans, and casual fans into die-hard fans. This series could actually lay a foundation for the future of the sport. This is modern day Gretzy/Lemieux or Magic/Bird. Wayne and Mario of course never met in a playoff series, but Larry Bird and Magic Johnson met in three memorable NBA Finals.
This is the stuff of dreams. The hockey Gods have delivered the ultimate marquee matchup. Promoting this is beyond being a no-brainer. Hello, Mr. Bettman ? Paging Gary Bettman; Mr. Bettman, if you are out there, can you please report to the lost and found and retrieve your common sense ? Thank you. Did I mention Evgeni Malkin and Ovechkin are MVP finalists ?
This series will be talked about long after Sid, Evgeni and Alex are all retired. Don’t miss it. Penguins march on.
CAROLINA vs BOSTON
This is really the battle of goaltenders Cam Ward and Tim Thomas. Carolina was more than courageous in their series comeback against New Jersey, Carolina defeated one of the best playoff goaltenders in NHL history in Martin Brodeur. The fact of the matter is, though the ‘Canes were valiant, Brodeur simply wasn’t the Brodeur we’re used to seeing in the post season (for the second straight year). Tim Thomas now has a chance to move into elite status amongst NHL goalies and will not fold. All due respect of course to Carolina goalie Cam Ward, but this one belongs to the Bruins. The long suffering Bruins fans will continue cheering.
DUCKS vs RED WINGS
Fresh off their annihilation of the Sharks, the Anaheim Ducks now have their sights set o the defending Stanley Cup-champs. The rich got richer when the Champs added Marian Hossa in the off season, and Pavel Datsyuk is a finalist for league MVP. That said, keep in mind that during the regular season, the Wings did score 50 more goals than the Ducks. The real difference is in goals allowed. The Wings allowed 244 goals to the Ducks’ 238. In fact only five teams in the Western Conference gave up more goals than did the Wings, and none of them made the playoffs. Goals are harder to come by in the playoffs and the Ducks have the snipers to take advantage of any defensive miscues. The Wings obviously have plenty of firepower so the Ducks are going to have to stay out of the penalty box or pay a heavy price. It’s going to be great, sit back and enjoy. Ducks continue with 2003 upset magic and move on.
VANCOUVER vs CHICAGO
Okay, the young Blackhawks did show more grit than I thought they would in the series against Calgary but the Canucks are an entirely different animal. Much like Tim Thomas , this is Roberto Luongos’ chance to truly cement his place amongst the elite. Luongo was lights out against St Louis in the first round. The Blackhawks are going to need their talented youngsters to stay patient and not succumb to frustration against Luongo, and Nikolai Khabibulin will need to be at his best to keep the ‘Hawks confident. Look for the strength of Luongo and the patience and experience of the Canucks’ veteran roster to be the difference in the series. The ‘Hawks have a great future, but for now, Canucks move on.