2) San Jose(1) vs- Anaheim(8) REGULAR SEASON SERIES (4-2 Sharks) The first 'Battle of California'! The Sharks couldn't have chosen a worse first round opponent. The Ducks have only gone 10-2-1 the past few weeks, including a 5-2 win at San Jose on April 4th. Much like the Pennsylvania battle, these teams do NOT like each other and it shows with epic battles that we at Fauxrumors is looking forward to! Keys: The Sharks have wilted annually in the heat of spring, can Todd McLellan bring a winning attitude to the Silicon Valley so they can finally shed that persona? Can Jonas Hiller be 'the guy' and outplay Nabokov? We like the Ducks combo of skill AND toughness(much like Philly) and can see a an upset in the making here, but it will be close/fun to watch!
Ducks in 7
3) Detroit (2) vs- Columbus (7) REGULAR SEASON SERIES (Tied 3-3) A TV friendly all Eastern time zone Western conference series. First off a mighty congrats to the Blue Jackets and their fans on their first entry into the Stanley Cup playoffs! That said, we feel the Wings dodged a bullet when the Ducks fell to 8th instead of the playoff novice Jackets. Keys: The biggest question/key will of course be goaltending. On the Wings side it has been inconsistent all year, but that was the case to some degree as well, and we see how that turned out. 200 feet away can Steve Mason(our Vezina/Calder winner) handle his first post season as well/coolly as he did his rookie campaign? The Redwings MAY be ripe for the upset, but we don't see the upstart Jackets as being up to the task to dethrone the defending champs in the first round.
RedWings in 5
4) Vancouver(3) vs- St. Louis(6) REGULAR SEASON SERIES (Tied 2-2) Like Columbus, few saw the Blues as challengers to a spot this season, especially after the numerous early season injuries. Here we have two of the hottest teams down the stretch. The Canucks have gone 23-7-2 since Feb 1. Impressive, huh? OK, how about 21-7-6, the record the Blues take into the final 6 weeks. We don't want to hear about the excuse of injuries again with the Blues advancing despite 461 man-games lost! Keys: can the 'other Mason', Chris, hold off the now potent Canucks attack and match Roberto Luongo save for save? Like Brodeur, Luongo missed time die to injury and is better rested ready? For that reason we see the boys from British Columbia advancing.
Canucks in 6
5) Chicago (4) vs- Calgary (5) REGULAR SEASON SERIES (Black Hawks 4-0) Probably the second most compelling Western series after the California battle. Hard not to root for the Hawks here. They have some very exciting young players and now have the Windy City excited for hockey for the first time in many years, and a return to the playoffs for the first time since 2002 A month ago we would have placed the Flames as a Cup contender, now not so much with their March slide that cost them the NW division. Is Ollie Jokkinen a cancer? He is about to play his first playoff game and since his acquisition the Flames have been sucky! Keys: Can the Flames get their defense healthy and get the old Kipper back in form? How will the kids(Towes/Kane, etc) do in their first playoff games? We think the Hawks will put up on hel of a fight, but in the end experience will win out and the Flames will win a very long/tough series.
Flames in 7