After a year-long absence, the Stanley Cup playoffs return. While it may seem that the familiar faces will have an advantage (Detroit, Dallas, New Jersey), there are new faces that will give these mainstays a run for their money (New York and Carolina).
I like Detroit, Dallas, Calgary and San Jose in the first round of the Western Conference. Detroit and Dallas should win in five or six games apiece, while Calgary and San Jose could go seven in their respective series.
In the East, I like Ottawa, Carolina, New Jersey and Philadelphia. The big key in the East is whether or not the Flyers get hot in net. If their goalies step up, this four-team set is better then the West.
For the conference finals, if all plays out well, we could have a Final Four that is more exciting then its basketball counterpart.
In the West, the easy picks are Detroit and Dallas. Both teams were the best in the conference all throughout the year. The Wings won the President’s Trophy and are the second hottest team in the entire league right now behind New Jersey.
Their veterans (Steve Yzerman, Chris Chelios and Brendan Shanahan) are playing their best hockey since their last Stanley Cup run four years ago.
For the Stars, the pieces are falling into place. Their defense may be the best in the entire NHL, and Mike Modano and Marty Turco are getting over their sub-par Olympic performances. This has all the makings of a seven game series.
In the East, I would like to see Ottawa and New Jersey. For the Devils, Marty Brodeur is the hottest goalie in the entire NHL right now and that spells bad news for the entire league.
Then again, the Senators have “The Dominator” (Dominik Haske) in net, so that automatically makes them into a contender.
Carolina could sneak past the Devils, depending on injuries and offensive effort of Jersey.
For the Finals, I think we might see Detroit and Ottawa facing each other. While that may destroy the ratings, it will be the best match up for both teams.
For the life of me, there is so much craziness in the NHL with the free agents and everyone switching teams, that I have no clue who will win.
But, you can’t go wrong with picking Detroit, Dallas, Ottawa or New Jersey. And you can only guess as to who I will be rooting for.