My Predictions (Picks in BOLD)
(1) Detroit Red Wings
(8) Nashville Predators
It's shocking how many peopel are picking the Preds to beat the Wings. Detroit is a team who won the President's Trophy, scored the most goals for in the league, and won the William Jennings. Sure, they have injury problems, but most teams do. No doubt, the Preds will prove to be a challenge, but Detroit should be able to shirk them off.
(2) San Jose Sharks
(7) Calgary Flames
The Sharks, a very popular Stanley Cup pick, were the hottest team down the stretch this season. This team is especially impressive on the road, where they put together two seperate nine-game winning streaks this season. Evgeni Nabokov has shown no signs of fatigue and the deadline deal to acquire Brian Campbell has paid off brilliantly. The Flames will try to rough them up, but they don't stand much of a chance.
(3) Minnesota Wild
(6) Colorado Avalanche
You can say my vision is blurred, but I see the Avalanche as a potential sleeper in the playoffs this year. Jose Theodore has been playing as well as any goalie in the league since January and the offense has been on fire with Peter Forsberg back in the lineup. Adam Foote gives the team a shutdown defender. Foote will be responsible with shutting down Marian Gaborik, a key to the series for the Wild.
(4) Anaheim Ducks
(5) Dallas Stars
In the most intriguing matchup of the first round, the goaltenders (Marty Turco and JS Giguere) are all set to shine. Turco still has not won a playoff series but he was spectacular against the Canucks last season. The Ducks are the defending champs and will bring their usual physical game right at Dallas. While the Stars may not take that sitting down, they'll probably end up on the golf course before the first round is through. However, due to how equal these teams are and how skilled on defense they are, we could be seeing a long series.
Same drill as the East:
Ok, maybe I'm going a little far with the Avs, but think about it. Detroit is really injured right now. Holmstrom has a sports hernia (but he is playing) and vets Maltby and Draper are both trying to get healthy right now. The Avs, despite losing the season series 0-4, look like a completely different team after those losses. Also, it's another perfect series for the NHL. Crosby-Ovechkin followed by Detroit-Colorado. Perfect.
(2) San Jose
(4) Anaheim Ducks
The defending champs won't go down without a fight, but they will go down. The Sharks are too hot right now and with Anaheim potentially coming off a tough series with Dallas, I like the Sharks to take it.
(2) San Jose
Alright, I stopped. The Avs may make the Stanley Cup, but the odds say San Jose.
Western Conference Champion:
San Jose Sharks
STANLEY CUP FINALS
Pittsburgh Penguins vs San Jose Sharks
I feel really bad. This is the same final that TSN predicted last night but I promise, I really wasn't influenced.
When you look at the conferences, the West has two likely candidates to make it this far, the Ducks and the Sharks. But considering the odds of repeating as champion are so low, you have to pick the Sharks. In the East, it's wide open but one has to believe that the most talented team should have the best shot.
San Jose Sharks in 6 Games
Of course, we're still rooting for the Avs!
Next Up: Avalanche Game 1 Preview!