1. Detroit vs 8. Nashville
Detroit dominated throughout the season, with a rough patch where many of their key defencemen were injured. Nashville made a comeback to clinch the final playoff spot due to clutch goaltending by Dan Ellis. The main concern for both teams will be in the net. Does Hasek have it in him? I say yes.
2. San Jose vs 7 Calgary
Sharks have been hot in the past twenty games. Calgary, like the other teams in the North West, have had both hot and cold stretches. Both teams have great goal tending, physical defense, and a plethora of offensive power. Will Nabokov have the energy to play a grueling 7 game series? Will Calgary be able to match the oversized Shark forwards? Call me crazy, but its going to be an early exit for a team from California.
3. Minnesota vs 6 Colorado
This could be a very exciting first round. With Andrew Brunette killing the Avs stanley cup dreams a few years ago in a game 7 with the Wild he has now changed sides and is looking to move on with Colorado. Jose Theodore has had a comeback season in a contract year, but will he stay in his groove come playoff time? Can Gaborik and Demitra produce in the playoffs? Will Sakic, Forsberg, Smyth, Svatos, Wolski, Hejduk be too much to handle for Niklas Backstrom? This will be a grueling series, and will hopefully go the full 7 games. Colorado has too much offense and an experience defense with Foote in the ranks for Minnesota to come out on top.
4. Anahiem vs 5 Dallas
Just when you thought the Ducks weren't going to make the playoffs, grey beards selanne and neidermayer returned. Combined with a young talented offence, and a deep blueline with Pronger, Beauchimin and Schnieder the ducks are poised to make another run. Dallas has cooled off in this last stretch, but Turco can be a difference maker come playoff time as he had 3 shutouts last playoffs in a 7 game series. With a bolstered offence in the form of Brad Richards comes the loss of a puck moving defenseman Sergei Zubov. This series has the possibility to be quick and done with to potentially one of the most exciting series to be played in either team's history.
This would cause the second series to look as follows:
1. Detroit vs 7. Calgary
4. Ducks vs. 5 Colorado