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A blog by a long time New York Islanders fan who stays true to the fellas wearing orange, white and blue…but thinks the Islanders organization has some shaping up to do.

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Sunday, April 20, 2008

So, Uh... What About the Playoffs?

Playoffs? We don't need no stinking playoffs!

Well, maybe we do. I just wanted to say that.

Either way, the first round of playoffs has gone something like this, and we'll talk about the Eastern Conference first.

-Rangers vs. Devils, Rangers win series 4-1.

Yes, I have to talk about this one first, simply because it caused the most controversy thanks to that rat in Ranger blue, Sean Avery. His stick-guarding antics irritated Martin Brodeur, his goals gave the Devils fits, and ultimately, his team got the series win. The distraction he caused helped, as did the high-octane offense and work of youngsters Ryan Callahan, Nigel Dawes, and Brandon Dubinsky. Plus, it doesn't hurt having Mr. Clutch- Chris Drury- on your roster.
In the end, the Devils were on the losing side thanks to their porous defense, low-scoring offense, and sudden sense of cluelessness on the ice. Plus, future Hall-of-Famer Brodeur may have played too many regular season games once again, as he never seemed to hit any kind of rhythm in the series (1-4, 16 GA, .891 sv%). He ignored Avery in the postseries handshake (for good reason, in my opnion, but I digress), creating another stir, but I'm sure he's losing little sleep over it. Devils still need to find that winning formula against the Rangers, and will try it again next year.

-Penguins vs. Senators, Pens sweep series, 4-0

The Senators were far from the powerhouse they'd been last season, partly because of their injuries (the biggest one to their captain, Daniel Alfredsson). Add that to the fact that the Pens are largely healthy, with goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury and Sidney Crosby in the lineup along with a hot Evgeni Malkin, and for the Sens, this was a recipe for disaster.
In the East, the Penguins look to be one of the toughest teams to play against, and I am firmly of the opinion that a matchup with the Rangers would be one to watch. Look at Pitt to make a strong case for the Finals.

-Canadiens vs. Bruins, series tied 3-3

The Canadiens looked to have firm control over this series, 3-1, a week ago... but somehow, someway, the Bruins have this tied into a knot, winning yesterday, 5-4, to force a seventh game. And it's going to be a tough one- in Montreal.
Judging solely from the scores, it's safe to say Montreal has some offense behind them, and they have a very fast and talented team. But the way Boston has battled back from a 3-1 deficit in the series suggests that they're not just going to lie down and let the Habs steamroll them. It's going to be a very interesting Game 7. MY PICK: Canadiens

-Capitals vs. Flyers, Flyers lead series 3-2

This is the series I have watched the most, and I have been intrigued from Game 1 on. The storybook way the Capitals got into the playoffs means nothing now, as the Flyers have largely dominated them despite the Caps' Game 1 win. The offense- particularly Mike Richards, Scottie Upshall, and Daniel Briere- have been relentless, and the tough defense has shut down Alex Ovechkin and his linemates. What struck me is how the players who pass to Ovechkin were taken care of first, so as to make Ovechkin practically helpless unless he works for the puck himself.
However, the Capitals have hung tough, and battled back to win Game 5, 3-2, on the brink of elimination. They should be in desperation mode at this point. The key is to get leads and stick with them- crash the net and the wall named Martin Biron, and once you get a lead, play smart and poised, and don't give the power play (particularly Briere) any chances. By the way, the goaltending in this game has been awesome- Biron vs. Huet. You can't get any better than that.
MY PICK: Capitals come back and win it!

Next post will focus on the Western Conference playoff scene, and my picks.

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