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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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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Draft Lottery Has Isles Choosing 5th, Plus Playoff Preview

The 2010 NHL Draft Lottery was held live on Versus at 8 p.m. last night, and much as was predicted, Edmonton won first dibs on the plethora of talent to be made available in late June. The Islanders are to pick fifth, with Boston (from Toronto), Florida and Columbus holding picks 2-4.

As everyone knows, there has been much speculation as to whether or not the first player drafted will be Taylor Hall of the Windsor Spitfires or Tyler Seguin of the Plymouth Whalers of the OHL, who are virtually neck-and-neck in terms of scouting prestige and talent. In truth, whomever is taken first will be a great asset to Edmonton. As for the Islanders, well... I'm hoping they can grab Erik Gudbrandson, a defenseman playing for the Kingston Frontenacs. He's 6'3", 195, so he can definitely fill out, and he adds some good size to the blueline (which we are in need of). Though The Scouting Report online says that he has credible offensive talent, I really think that, especially if/when he puts on some weight, he can certainly be physical and add some toughness to our D as well. The final rankings had him listed as No. 4, but perhaps we can get lucky and Columbus will pass him by- or we can trade up a spot.

Now, on to the main event. There is still plenty of hockey left to be played, and it begins tonight as the Stanley Cup Playoffs get underway. The games tonight are as follows: Eastern Conference:

(5) Ottawa at (4) Pittsburgh, 7 p.m.

The defending Cup champs take on the resurgent Senators, and this should be pretty interesting. In the regular season, the teams split the season series with each team winning once at home, once on the road, and it's a much-the-same Pens team against a new-look Sens team who hopes their goaltending will be on point. Brian Elliott, who's starting in the playoffs for the first time, was a big part of the reason the team got into the playoffs. We'll see if he can keep that going. Of course, expect the usual suspects- Sid Crosby, Geno Malkin and Co.- to step up and try to get things done for the Penguins. It can go either way as far as individual game scores- both teams have beaten each other by wide margins- so who knows.

(7) Philadelphia at (2) New Jersey, 7:30 p.m.

Now this will be fun. Tough customers with talent, the Flyers won the season series easily over their Atlantic Division rivals, 5-1-0. To some surprise, Claude Giroux and Chris Pronger each have scored 7 points against the Devils for the team lead. Though the Devs may have the edge in goaltending- Brian Boucher is okay but sometimes shaky for Philly, while Martin Brodeur can make any team look good- they're going to have to capitalize on that, and get guys like Patrik Elias, Zach Parise and of course Ilya Kovalchuk going early on. They'll also have to get their power play scoring and draw plenty of penalties from this not-so-disciplined Flyers team. Expect Dan Carcillo to be a bit of an impact as well- I'm perfectly sure he'll happily fill the "pain in the butt" role in Sean Avery's absence.

Western Conference:

(5) Detroit at (4) Phoenix, 10:00 p.m.

I was watching NHL Network as I always do when I wake up in the morning, and if you watch often you know they always repeat NHL on the Fly until noon. Well, they had their Western Conference playoff preview last night, and I was surprised at how everyone on the show was so quick to write off this Coyotes team. Yes, Detroit is a great hockey club and they're finally healthy, and just in time. Yes, they've got plenty of experience and will use it well against a Cinderella team like the 'Yotes. But Phoenix has an edge in goaltending- Ilya Bryzgalov is a rock in net, and Jimmy Howard, while an impressive rookie, is perhaps the one player who isn't very experienced on the Red Wings. While Phoenix may be in the playoffs for the first time in eight years, they are masters in one-goal games and I think that they can, if not win this series, at least keep it quite close till the very end. They'll have to deal with Henrik Zetterberg and pavel Datsyuk, two of the best in the league, not to mention Nick Lidstrom, but they'll persevere.

(8) Colorado at (1) San Jose, 10:30 p.m.

San Jose, as you well know, is not the most reliable team in the playoffs, though they're the No. 1 seed almost every year. This year is the year in which they need to really prove that they can win when it counts. It may be hard- Colorado is a young but talented club that has a great goalie in Craig Anderson, a dynamic rookie in Matt Duchene and some vets to keep the balance. They also don't have much pressure on them; they've already surprised the heck out of so many who believed they would be in the WC cellar this season as well. The two teams split the four-game season series, so anything's possible here. However, injuries may be a problem- Duchene and Peter Mueller are questionable, and David Jones will not play, while SJ is healthy.

So, those are the games on the program for tonight, and I will do my very best to keep tabs on all of them. It's the best time of the year- the weather's warmer and the hockey's more intense, and every shift counts. Gotta love it! Playoffs, baby!

(Credit goes to nhl.com for playoffs info.)

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