1) Now for the difficult part. How to figure out this mess. There are several very good hockey teams here that won't win a round. Unfair, but that's the way the NHL works. Years ago it was the other way around; with the East much more powerful from top to bottom and the West seemingly only having 2-3 teams worth watching. Like our East predictions we will go through each series and come up with our picked eventual winner. This time we will take it the next step and pick the Cup winner as well.
- (1) Detroit (50-19-13, 113 pts)-vs.- (8) Calgary (43-29-10, 96 pts). REGULAR SEASON SERIES: Tied 2-2. This seems to be the series that many pundants like to pick the upset. If this were 3 years ago we might agree, but we believe that this Detroit team with Hasek at 100% will be far too much for Calgary to handle. It will NOT be a cake walk, but in the end the old geezers should prevail. RedWings in 6
- (2) Anaheim (48-20-14, 110 pts)-vs-(7) Minnesota (48-26-8, 104 pts). REGULAR SEASON SERIES: Tied 2-2. The Ducks will fly into the land of lakes and easily dispose of the Wild. Well, maybe not easy, but of all the series we feel this one will be over the fastest and with the least amount of difficulty. Ducks in 5
- (3) Vancouver (49-26-7, 105 pts)-vs-(6) Dallas (50-25-7, 107 pts). REGULAR SEASON SERIES: Tied 2-2 As we alluded to in our season recap, Dallas surprised us in the regular season, even more than the Canucks. However we will fall back on our old stand by; the team with the best goalie wins. Turco has yet to impress us in the clutch. While this is Luongo real first playoffs, we feel he should be up to the challenge. Even with that it will be a tough hard fought close series. Canucks in 7
- (4) Nashville (51-23-8, 110 pts)-vs-(5) San Jose (51-26-5, 107 pts). REGULAR SEASON SERIES: Predators win 3-1 The Sharks are a favourite among many playoff prognosticators this year. We are NOT among them. We feel this team lacks enough depth/character to excell in the post season. Nashville isn't deep on character either, but we feel that Trotz will finally get this team into the next round(Else he's out of a job)Predators in 6
2) On to the next round, and it continues to get interesting. matchups are VERY important for the playoffs. As such we feel that will weigh heavily on who we pick here.
- Detroit-vs-Nashville. Season Series: Wings win 6-2. The RedWings certainly have the Preds number. Despite having an average age of 68 the Red Wings will again gain entry to the NHL's Final 4 with a win over Nashville. If Detroit played ANY of the other 2 teams and we do NOT pick them to win.(Matchups/goaltending are everything now!) Red Wings in 5
- Anaheim-vs-Vancouver. Season Series: Ducks win 3-1. This will be a hard fought tightly checked series. We feel that the Canucks just won't be able to match up with the Ducks depth but it won't be a cake walk by any means. Ducks in 6
3) The Conference Finals will be: Anaheim-vs-Detroit. season series tied 2-2. This will be a VERY entertaining hockey series. On paper both are evenly matched, with a slight goaltending edge to the Wings(If Hasek is still healthy) For that matter after 3 rounds injuries could be key. Certainly the Redwings advanced ages will play a part in determining the outcome. The fountain of youth will finally run dry for the Wings. Ducks in 6
4) What this sets up is a potential classic Finals. The Anaheim Ducks-VS-Buffalo Sabres. These teams did not face each other during the regular season. Most of the season both were at or near the top in their respective conferences. Injuries to the Ducks hurt their Presidents cup chances, but now largely healthy. Will that be true come late May? As always with the Stanley Cup playoffs, its a war of attrition. Both teams have considerable depth at forward and defense. We also like the prospect of a physical series with a few scraps(Anaheim seldom disappoints there!). We feel that Buffalo having essentially a first round bye and a relatively easy second round as well will be the fresher of the two. The final key will be home ice. That's why we are picking the Sabres to be the 2007 Stanley Cup Champions! Sabres in 7