Thursday, April 22, 2004

A 50/50 Draw

HockeyNation sits at the .500 mark on prognostications after the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for 2004. Our brave predictions of a few short weeks ago, crushed like a first period collapse by a Senators goaltender.

For the record, in the East we had picked Ottawa to top the Leafs in 6 or 7, we were WRONG. Boo hoo, as Owen Nolan might say. We did hit the jackpot with Les Habitants as they topped the B’s in seven games as predicted. Tampa did not take as long as we thought to dispose of the Islanders but we did pick them to win regardless. And New Jersey disappointed us immensely with their quick exit from the Philly/Jersery battles. HockeyNation had bravely predicted the defending Stanley Cup Champs would defeat Bobby Clarke’s evil empire but it wasn’t meant to be.

Over in the West we watched in horror as the Vancouver Canucks exited the playoffs early once again, we predicted an exciting seven game series but backed the wrong horse. Go Flames Go. San Jose saved our reputation with the speed of their banishment of the Blues. Detroit took a little longer than we thought but they finally rid themselves of the pesky Preds, HockeyNation was a little nervous in game three and four as the Preds put a bit of a scare in the legions from Hockeytown. And Dallas proved to have been a bad decision as the Avalanche pretty well had their way with the Stars, getting rid of them without much of a sweat.

So it’s on to round number two, with a 50/50 chance of being right and if history is any example a 50/50 chance of my picks being considered part of the oracles of the puck. So here we go.

CALGARY and DETROIT, the Red Wings finally got fed up with dealing with the pesky Predators and got rid of them, only to land the Flames in the second round. If the Wings had problems with the Preds attack, things could get a little tense in the Joe this playoff season. Calgary is playing with a lot of confidence right now, having pulled together quite nicely as a team and all seem to performing as a unit, as designed on the playboard. With that we’ll pick our first upset special CALGARY in 7.

SAN JOSE AND COLORADO renew acquaintances with game one in San Jose on Thursday night. Both teams played well in their opening round. Colorado should have had the harder road to hoe, with a hungry Dallas Star team ready to bang them into the boards and take control. But that never happened; San Jose likewise did not have much trouble with the Blues. Either team has a pretty good shot at winning this series, but
we thing the SHARKS will bite the Avs and move on.

In the East it should have been a rematch between the Flyers and the Sens, a series that would have made the hitting in the Toronto/Ottawa series look like no touch football game. But someone called Eddie got in the way, pulling his Leaf teammates into the 2nd round on will power alone. And he brings that intangible into this series, spirit. Look for the Leafs to answer to the challenge. TORONTO should move on, but it will take six or seven games.

Montreal launched an amazing comeback against the Bruins and learned a valuable lesson about themselves. Hard work will win out. And hard work is on the horizon again with a well rested Tampa Bay Lightning looking to take away their dreams of Stanley. Despite the rapid climb to the top the Lightning will be feeling the nerves in this series; Montreal will be ready to capitalize on any miscues on the ice. If the Habs can keep their self confidence heading into the first couple of games they should come out victorious. MONTREAL in 7.

With our one day off from the frantic action, we return to our televisions Thursday. Westerners will only hear rumors of the Leafs and Flyers as Hockey Night In Canada has spilt the nation in two for the first game of the second round. The Flames/ Wings opener knocking the Leafs and Flyers to those folks living east of the Lakehead. The puck drops in both locales at 4 pm, after the one day armistice the Guns of April open up on three fronts, we await our dispatches from the combat zones.

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