Posted 2:02 AM ET | Comments 2
My name is David Reddekopp, and I'm a Habs fan. But even more than that, I'm a hockey fan, so while I will talk about my team, I won't always. One thing I can guarantee you though, I am very opinionated and will make my point whether you agree with it or not.
Well, with the introductions out of the way, I'll start my initial blog post with an overview of the first round matchups.
1 Buffalo vs 8 New York I
Out of all the series, I feel this one is the only one that's not really in doubt...though perhaps with a healthy DiPietro I might not make that claim. Unfortunately for the Isles, they don't have that luxury. Dubielewicz might win a game or two, but his upside isn't nearly as high. I'm a Dubie fan, but it's the truth. The Sabres are simply deeper, quicker, and more talented. I kind of feel sorry for some of the Sabre forwards who have to sit...young guys like Stafford, Paille, and MacArthur would be starters on any other team. The only way I see them losing is if Miller is injured...I don't trust Ty Conklin. Sabres in five.
2 New Jersey vs 7 Tampa Bay
Brodeur will show up for the Devils, and Vinny and Marty will show up for TBay. This series is kind of hard to handicap, but it really comes down to Johan Holmqvist. The Devils offense is nothing special, but is not completely without talent (Parise, Gionta, Gomez, Elias, etc...). But, if Holmqvist can match Brodeur, Tampa's offense is simply more powerful. However, since I don't see it happening, Devils in six.
3 Atlanta vs 6 New York R
This is going to be a close series. Both teams can muck it up and both teams have top-end skill. It really comes down to the goalies (doesn't it always). Henrik Lundqvist was as good as any goalie in the NHL down the stretch, and there's no reason to believe he can't continue. Atlanta's hopes hinge on Kari Lehtonen, who is simply oozing with potential, but is still a bit inconsistent at times. As Lundqvist is the more proven of the two, I see the Rangers winning in seven.
4 Ottawa vs 5 Pittsburgh
This looks to be the most entertaining series of round one, as both teams can blow you out. Emery and Fleury have both taken big steps this year. Crosby, Malkin, and Staal are simply amazing, and Recchi, Roberts, and Gonchar will be looked to to provide leadership. I don't know about that defense though. Sometimes it holds up and sometimes not. As for Ottawa, Heatley has two straight 50 goal years, and Alfie and Sezza are both capable of hitting 100 points in a season...Alfredsson has, and Spezza has been on pace in both of the last two years. The Sens also have depth in Comrie, Schaefer, Vermette, Eaves, and Fisher, who will be out against Crosby at every opportunity. Malkin should take advantage of this. The Sens' defense is very deep, and that's the difference. Ottawa in seven.
1 Detroit vs 8 Calgary
Calgary's spot in the standings does not indicate their overall talent level, as they underachieved much of the year. The truth is, the Flames can score now, and when Kiprusoff is on there is none better. Also, Iggy is the game's preeminent power forward. Bertuzzi only wishes he had the talent, toughness, or smarts. Hasek is not what he used to be (although he's still quite good). Lidstrom is still as good as any defenseman in the game, and quite possibly its most intelligent player. The guy on the hot seat is Pavel Datsyuk. While I think he won't be a complete bust this year, I smell an upset. Calgary in seven.
2 Anaheim vs 7 Minnesota
Gaborik is the most talented player on either side, and how he responds to the attention from Pronger will be absolutely vital to the Wild's chances. Backstrom led the league in GAA and will continue his solid play in the playoffs. On the other side, Giggy has a Conn Smythe on his resume, so he is proven, and he's never had a team this good to work with. Minnesota is more than the sum of their parts, but Anaheim's big two on D will be too much to overcome. Anaheim in six.
3 Vancouver vs 6 Dallas
Luongo is the MVP in my opinion, and I don't see any dropoff coming. The Sedins will be fine, and the defense should be able to hold up; where they don't, Luongo has saved them all year. Naslund and Morrison have to step up their game hough if this team is to go far. Dallas, I fear, is a team built for the regular season. I feel Dallas is equal everywhere here but in net, and I have no confidence in Marty Turco in the playoffs. They'd be better off starting the capable Mike Smith. Canucks in five.
4 Nashville vs 5 San Jose
I believe Nashville is the deeper team but the Sharks' best players are better. However, Thornton has a disappointing playoff pedigree while Forsberg is dominant in the playoffs. Then again, there's no guarantee Peter will be 100%...This is one of two battles that will decide the series; the other, of course, is in goal. Vokoun or Nabokov, it's a crapshoot. Should either falter, the backups are really no dropoff. But in this series, you can't give anything away. This series goes the distance, and I think I trust Nabokov and the Sharks.