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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

And Now... For Round 2

Don't worry, the West will get plenty of face time in this one. I apologize for the negligence.

As Round One of the NHL playoffs ended with a pair of Game 7s last night, the second round pairings look like this:

West first:

1. Detroit vs. Colorado: Well, the Avs took the high-flying Wild by surprise in the first round. The biggest factor in that series win, in my opinion, was goaltender Jose Theodore (4-2, 12 GA, 1.88, .940), who has been fantastic for Colorado. However, Detroit is not going to be easy as the #1 seed- and they have the chance to show that the President's Trophy is not a curse. I pick the Wings in 6.

2. Dallas vs. San Jose: Okay, so I haven't been watching must Western Conference hockey, I must admit. But goalie Evgeni Nabokov, while not top-notch against the Flames in the first round, will probably look to back up his recent Vezina nomination, against Mike Ribeiro and Brenden Morrow, as well as Mike Richards and the rest of the Stars. There's a reason why Anaheim got knocked out in five games, and the Stars are looking to show the same grit against the Sharks (who, I think, have the ability to make it to the Finals). It's a toss-up.


1. Montreal vs. Philadelphia: The Flyers did a superb job of shutting down Alexander Ovechkin in the first couple of games, but they also seemed to lose a lot of steam, and suffered because of it- even in Game 7, when- who else?- Ovechkin scored the tying goal and eventually helped his team get to overtime. Against a fast-skating, talented team such as the Habs, I'm not sure if Philly will be able to hold up. I pick Habs in 6.

2. Pittsburgh vs. New York Rangers: The Rangers have the goaltender to beat in Henrik Lundqvist, but the Penguins have the speedy, dynamic offense in Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby among others, and against a green New York defense, the Pens certainly have the ability to stun the Rangers. Look for a mega-pest showdown between Jarkko Ruutu and Sean Avery- personally, I'm hoping they bother each other to death. I'm also hoping for the Pens to take it in 6.

Note on the Caps-Flyers Game 7 last night: Officiating sure does know how to kill a game, doesn't it? No worries for these Caps- they've achieved more than their fans and I ever thought possible this season, coming from the bottom of the Southeast to the top, and scratching and clawing their way to a Game 7 against a tough opponent. A tip of my hat to Washington for a great series, and best of luck next year- you can only get better from this point on.

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