Speaking of the semis:
5. San Jose
Even though they won in five games, San Jose had to be very physical against the Predators, and I predicted that the winner of that series would be swept in the next round. Guess what? The Wings haven't done anything that makes me think otherwise. Not only do the Wings have the advantage in goal, but with Pavel Datsyuk finally breaking his Playoff slump, the Wings are ultra dangerous this year. Based on an NHL.com poll, this game is the most likely for an upset, but I'm not seeing it.
PREDICTION: Detroit in 5
Not only is this one of the most fun series in the semi-finals, it's also one of the hardest to predict. At one end, you have the Ducks. With Chris Pronger and Scott Neidemayer (forgive the spelling) they boast one of the best defensive schemes in all of hockey. At the other end, Roberto Luongo is a rock in net, and remember, the Ducks could be rusty since the Nucks just played a few nights ago. It comes down to whether or not the Sedins have a good series because lets face it, they are the Canucks this year. While Pronger and Neidemayer are great, I believe in Luongo.
PREDICTION: Vancouver in 6
6. New York (Rangers)
The Rangers shocked many by sweeping the Atlanta Thrashers. The difference between this series and that series? Many of the Thrashers main players (Lethonen and Kovalchuk included) had never played in the Playoffs. Meanwhile, the Sabres have much more experience, with many of the players on last years team. Buffalo can beat you a million ways, but mostly, they do it with offense...and Ryan Miller, who is my choice for American goalie of the future. IF Jaromir Jagr can put up some impressive points, the Rangers have a chance, but I wouldn't bet on it.
PREDICTION: Buffalo in 4
2. New Jersey
I love this goaltending matchup because it features the best in the game versus the future of our game. Brodeur and Emery are two very different people, but both are extremely effective in net. Apparently, Emery did get injured in practice, but is cleared to play in Game 1. Ottawa is very solid on defense, and with a first line that features Spezza, Heatley, and Alfredsson, they shouldn't have an issue of who to put on the ice in crunch time. The Devils play a much different game...a defensive game. And I hate to say it, but for the NHL, the Devils are the worst. Who wants to watch the trap? I don't. This has the potential to be one of the most compelling series in the Playoffs. In the end, I really think Ottawa is overdue. I hate betting against Martin Brodeur, but the Sens have a greater commitment to defense this season and for that reason alone, I'm giving them the series.
PREDICTION: Ottawa in 7
The games kick off tonight, with Buffalo, New York, Anaheim, and Vancouver all on Versus. The other two games come on the weekend on NBC.
RANT OF THE WEEK
This weekend, the semi-finals of the NHL Playoffs are set to continue on to Game 2 of each series.. No doubt, there will be excitement and good hockey, but will anyone watch it? NBC has done nothing to market the game. As much as I hate ESPN, at least they created NHL2Night and advertised on other stations. NBC gives the NHL a 30 minute pre and post game show and after that, it's on to local swim meets. To make matters worse, the NFL Draft is this weekend. Why watch Martin Brodeur, in line to break numerous records, when you could see your favorite division II player be drafted in the 8th round? Why listen to Bill Clement or Keith Jones talk about the game when you could be listening to Mel Kiper Jr. give you his 2010 first look rankings? I'm sick of it. The NHL is with NBC, and if NBC had any pride, they'd get hockey noticed in America. But of course, most NBC executives will be focused on Calvin Johnson, instead of Sean Avery. (If they even know who that is)