The best time of the year has arrived. PLAYOFF HOCKEY!! Every night for the next two months players will be diving in front of 90 mph slap shots, banging in the corner with people 50 pounds heavier than they are and scoring huge goals that they and their fans will not soon forget. Take a deep breathe, stock the fridge with some adult beverages and enjoy the ride.
Predicting these outcomes is not easy, anybody can beat anybody. It's sports, but more importantly its hockey....YOU NEVER KNOW!
Here is one guys take on how it will shake out and why.
SABRES - ISLANDERS
This won't be as easy as most think it will be for Buffalo. Yes, the Sabres are loaded and finally a healthy team. The Islanders have plenty of veteran leadership in Smyth, Sillenger, Blake and Hill to name a few and after squeaking in in an improbably fashion will be a loose bunch with a devil may care attitude. Look for Dipiertro to play as well, at least at some point. That being said, the Sabres are too skilled and too focused.
Sabres is 6
Devils - Lightning
The 'Ning took the season series 3-1 versus the Devils but that is where the optimism for Tampa and their faithful should end. The Devils should have little problem controlling one line which is all they need to do to make it to round two. Brouder v. Holmquist. Ummmm, see ya Tampa.
Devils in 4
Thrashers - Rangers
The Rangers have become harder to score on then the Devils over the past month. I see no reason their stingy play stops and with Jagr, Nylander and Shanahan they have enough offense to get by Atlanta, who has had an up and down season.
Rangers in 6
Ottawa - Pittsburgh
Its seems from what I have heard and read that people are in one of two camps on the Pens. Either they are very good and can make a legit run at the Cup or they are too young and green to be taken seriously, even though they had a great year. I think they are a good team, but Ottawa is a better one. Too deep and have a chip on their shoulder from last years early exit. The games will be close, but the series will be short
Sens in 5
Detroit - Calgary
After recent early round flops by the Wings the popular pick is Calgary in an upset. I don't see it. Calgary backed their way into the post season tournament and can't win on the road. Yes, they play physical and the Wings have had problems with that in the past, but not this year.
Red Wings in 5
Ducks - Wild
Take the under is my advice here. Two teams that know how to frustrate the other team and take care of business in their own zone. I think it will be a low scoring series but not a boring one. This is the toughest one to call for me but I think the fans in Minnesota will get to go Wild.
Wild in 7
Vancouver - Dallas
The Canuks remind me of New Jersey west. New Jersey scored 216 goals and allowed 201 while amassing 107 points. The Canucks scored 222 goals and let in the same 201 as the Devils did. They finished with 105 points. Pretty similar. The Stars play the same style, close to the vest. Look for your fair share of 2-1 tilts in this battle, with the Stars winning the majority.
Stars in 6
Predators - Sharks
This one should be a doozie. One great team is one and done. The Sharks have been playing better hockey as of late then the Preds. The preds haven't found their game over the last few weeks and that should be of concern to Pred fans. That being said I still think the Preds have enough to get by the Sharks in a very long and very entertaining series.
Predators in 7
I can't wait until tonight, when the greatest tournament in all of sports gets under way!!