Friday, May 5, 2006


The second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs is upon us!

Just a few notes from the first round, where all 4 top seeds won in the East, and the bottom 4 seeds won in the West. Does this mean the West is deeper? With three of the best teams coming out of the East, does this mean one of them will be carving their name in the Cup? As for my blognostications, I guessed 6 of the 8 series correctly, only whiffing on Detroit (who didn't?) and Calgary (downed by the Ducks in Game 7). It's been an exciting playoffs so far, closely officiated, and crisply played, with the most "electric" game being Game 6 in Edmonton, with Hemsky scoring the tying and go-ahead goals in the final 4 minutes for the come from behind win, as the home crowd exploded with delight and could probably be heard in Saskcatchewan.
As predicted, the Sabres prevailed, because Philly's goaltending let them down once again. In true Philly phashion, at the end of the Game 6 thrashing, their phans booed and had to be told to refrain from throwing things on the ice. Way to say thanks to your team for a great season, you ungrateful shitheads! Overall, the Swedes didn't look good: Lundqvist was hurt down the stretch and a step behind in the playoffs, Forsberg showed minimal effort in Game 6 (apparently, he's hurt again), Detroit packed up early for the 3rd season in a row--but at least they won the Olympic Gold!

So let's look at the second round matchups:

#2 Carolina vs. #3 Devils
Head to head: 2-2
Player to Watch: Patrick Elias, NJ
What can you say about this Devils team? They've won 15 in a row, Marty has been Marty, Elias has been otherworldly. Brind'Amour has been the quintessential captain, scoring 4 goals, 2 assists as they came back after being down 2 games to none vs. MTL. The biggest problem is that Carolina is an attack team with an unknown goalie, Cam Ward, who has played fantasticly after stepping in to relieve the struggling Gerber. This is going the distance, but Marty and the Devs will ultimately prevail. Devils in 7.

#1 Ottawa vs. #4 Buffalo
Head to head: 5-3, OTT
Player to Watch: Ryan Miller, BUF

These two division foes know each other well, and I think this will translate into a fast paced, well played series. Ottawa is an explosive offensive team, but haven't we said this several seasons before? They're streaky, and I still think that a good defensive squad can shut them down--Buffalo might just be that type of team. They're a fast, gritty, young bunch with four good lines, solid D, and no real superstars. It may come down to goaltending, and Ryan Miller is going to be the difference, as Emery is finally going to break down and show he's no Hasek. Sabres in 7.

#5 San Jose vs. #8 Edmonton

Head to head: 3-1, EDM
Players to Watch: Michael Peca, EDM

Yes, the Shark Oil Series, probably the matchup that San Jose was hoping for, but don't count out the Oilers. SJ has a high scoring squad, but the Edmonton D played well in front of Roloson, making him look like a stud. Man, I could go either way with this one, but I'm going to Get Electric and choose them as the sole Canadian team in the finals. Oilers in 6.

#6 Anaheim vs. #7 Colorado
Head to head: 3-1, COL
Player to Watch: Scott Niedermeyer, ANA

I haven't been a big Duck believer, but I think this matchup favors them. Teemu "The Finnish Flash" Selanne is giving them O, and Nieds is anchoring the D, and they have the next Giguere in Ilya Bryzgalov in G. What's not to like? The opportunistic Avs capitalized on a clearly confused Turco in the first round, getting late/OT goals, but the Duck D will be stingier. This time it's the Avs' Theodore who is going to break down. Ducks in 6.

As for the broadcast schedule, NBC is showing the Devils @ Carolina game in HD at 2 PM on Saturday. Ugh. What's wrong with Friday night? Or Saturday night??? The Kentucky Derby is also on NBC, slated to start at 5 PM. So what happens if the hockey goes into quintuple OT? Do they tell the horses to wait? Yeah, right. I'm predicting they'll say "for the remainder of the game, switch to TNT!" or some crap. Or maybe they'll call the hockey game "due to darkness", and resume play the next morning. I wonder if NBC even has a contingency plan in case the hockey runs late; I'll probably end up watching the second OT from a webcam. One of these days one of these afternoon games is going to interfere with golf (either me playing it or watching it), and then I will be pissed.

We'll close with a couple of photos, the first of Sabres Chris Drury, that Kris said "looks like it was taken at 7am Sunday morning, after a particularly animated evening of drinking on his part". Knowing hockey players, that's probably close to the truth.
Chris Drunkry

This last one is Mark Messier and Gary Coleman in the locker room after an Edmonton game. There are at least 20 things wrong/disturbing here, see if you can find them all!
Whatchu talkin' 'bout, Messier?

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