2) Next the West:
- Detroit-vs-L.A.- Assuming the old Wings stay healthy(Hasek) this won't be a push over series for a first round, but the Wings and their experience will be not be denied and proceed to round 2. Wings in 5
- San Jose-vs-Vancouver- The Vancouver Luongos will keep things interesting and perhaps steal one at home in double OT, but the Sharks high powered offense will NOT be deterred by Luongo's heroics. Sharks in 5
- Colorado-vs-Minnesota- The Avs come into this match up with a high degree of confidence. Though Lemaire's troops never say die, in the end the potent attack of the boys from Denver overcome the defense-first Wild, but not easily. Avalanche in 6
- Anaheim-vs-Calgary- The series to watch! The defending Cup champs(with or without Neidermayer-?) never seem to get comfortable in their first round Cup defense. Kiprusoff playing for a new contract stands on his head and propels the Flames into the second round, but not without a fight(s). Flames in 7
3) Now on to the next rounds:
- Detroit-vs-Calgary-A rematch/grudge match from last season. The bad blood is evident early and often, and the Flames 'Cinderella story' continues as they win a very hard fought chippy series. Flames in 6
- San Jose-vs-Colorado- Another great series with both clubs possessing a full array of talented forwards. In the end the difference is between the pipes as Nabokov is the ultimate difference. Sharks in 6
4) This sets up a very interesting match up (Though not the one Mr. Bettman would have wanted) between the upstart Flames, and the high flying SJ Sharks. A great skating display with specialty teams carrying the day. Sharks in 6
5) This sets the stage for the Finals. The San Jose Sharks vs- Pittsburgh Penguins. Finally Gary Bettman and the NHL get a Finals they can be happy about. Not sure if the ratings will be a huge improvement over the last 2 years, but they couldn't get much worse. The NHL gets to showcase its 'next one'. Sidney Crosby in the premier series in the league. Unfortunately for the Pens though they are thoroughly outmatched in this series. The pens manage to win a game to avoid a sweep, but still fall to the Sharks in 5. So the Cup stays in California, but moves up the coast a bit.
6) Our run down of how tenuous each NHL coachs' position are with respect to their team should be out sometime this week. As always, keep it here for all the latest. By the way, anyone notice the season started? Don't feel bad, very few folks in the states(including California) did either.