Tuesday, May 08, 2007

NHL Thoughts...

You know I find it comical that Pierre McGuire is a broadcaster, I really do. He was at his finest over the weekend when he asked Red Wings Head Coach Mike Babcock, "So, this probably isn't the start you wanted," after Detroit fell behind 1-0 to San Jose in Game Five. I also find it laughable that Bill Clement pretends to be objective when it comes to commentating about any of the New York area teams. Hey, he's a Flyer through and through, no problem. Go ahead Billy Boy wave your orange crush pompoms. But let's get to my predictions for the Conference Finals, however, let's first look back and see how the Dog and I did in the second round:

I said San Jose in 6, Dog said Detroit in 7. Wings won in 6.
I said Ducks in 7, Dog said Canucks in 7. Anaheim won in 5.
I said Rangers in 6, Dog said Sabres in 5. Buffalo won in 6.
I said Devils in 7, Dog took the Senators in 5. Ottawa won in 5.

So now we move on...

Detroit vs. Anaheim
I was thinking earlier about how the Red Wings have been so good for so long, despite all the changes. However, they do have some constants. Solid goaltending: Dom Hasek. An amazingly gifted but in some ways overlooked d-man, Nic Lidstrom. The main thing, though, is the team's commitment to playing solid defense and being masters at puck control. Detroit has also somehow been able to make Matt Schneider look like a big-time defenseman; and Chris Chelios looks to be playing like he is in his 20s, not in his 40s.

Anaheim meanwhile, has a great blend of young players and vets looking to get a ring. I always start in goal and work my way out, by the way. J.S. Giguere doesn't face many shots on most nights, but is very good between the pipes. Now let's work our way out and look at the awesome tandem of Chris Pronger and Scott Niedermayer. When you have two guys as good as they are, it gives Head Coach Randy Carlyle many options. They can play together or on separate pairs, which would mean that one of the two d-men would potentially be on the ice for the entire game. Those two regularly log at least 30 minutes per game.

Anaheim plays very close games and for some reason does not score as many goals as I would expect, what with Teemu Selanne leading the charge.

The Ducks have been the consensus pick of many around the NHL to go to the finals since they lured Chris Pronger away from Edmonton last summer. I agree, and take the Ducks in 6.

Buffalo vs. Ottawa

Ottawa boasts some incredibly exciting forwards in Dan Heatley, Dan Alfredsson, and Jason Spezza. Plus, they've got Chris Phillips on the blueline. But they are a bit suspect in goal with Ray Emery. The goalie is definitely prone to letting in the soft goal, and becoming unnerved. With the speed that Buffalo can generate that is a recipe for disaster for the Senators. There's plenty of pressure on both these teams, and there actually is some bad blood stemming from an incident earlier in the year. Buffalo wins this won in a breeze, I like the Sabres in 5.

By the way, the Dog was too busy chewing on a bone and was unable to make his predictions.

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