Friday, May 30, 2014

Vanek: Playoffs Biggest Loser?

1) Few players in our opinion, with the possible exception of Ryan Miller,
   will lose more in these playoffs than Montreal's Thomas Vanek. The soon-to-be UFA was in the eyes of many one of the premiere available forwards in his summer's free agent class. Many, apparently including Vanek/his agent themselves figured they would get multiple offers near the max dollar and term (7 years). Why else then would Vanek have turned down the Isles reportedly generous contract offer of about 7 years 50 million if he didn't think he could get more this summer?

2) With his near disappearance when his team needed him most this spring, coupled with his disastrous Olympics, we believe that many GM's will think twice before offering the Austrian what he theretofore was almost guaranteed; a 50+ million dollar pay day this summer.  It was rumoured that Canadiens head coach Michel Therrian  was thinking of scratching the veteran winger, or at the very least demoting him to 4th line status.  In the end he had little choice but to play and hope that somehow Vanek would snap out of it, and produce something. He didn't, and now both Vanek and his agent must be wondering how much they may have lost out on.

3) Our sources on LI tell us the Isles have no intention of reaching out to Vanek once he is free to talk with other teams on July 1.  "That boat has sailed", is how we were told. Snow is still smarting on the trades (Buffalo and Montereal) to go down that road once again.  " I'd doubt they would even want him at 1/2 the original offer" is what one Eastern Conference asst GM told Fauxrumors this morning.  Its not so much bad blood as it is old news and time to move on.  As for possible destinations, the persistent team that pops up are the Wild, but even they are now re-thinking their potential offers.  A reliable players agent we talked with said he figured Vanek will still get a good contract but "he can forget about max term" and settle for 3-4 years at about 6 or so mil. If that  pans out Vanek would have potentially cost himself 25 million dollars. This would probably make Vanek: The playoffs biggest loser!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Apples And Oranges!

1) The respective hockey media in NY and Montreal are both going into hyper-drive with respect to the latest illegal hit in the Eastern Conference Finals series between the Rangers and Canadiens. Last night usually tough, but clean Ranger defensemen John Moore hit an apparently defenseless Dale Weise earning the Blue Shirt a 5 minute match penalty and game misconduct for attempting to injure.  Immediately Habs media, and NY media as well started to compare and contrast this incident to the one in game 3 when Brandon Prust leveled Derek Stepan, breaking the ladder's jaw, requiring surgery.

2) Prust was not whistled for any infraction during the game, but afterwards was suspended 2 games by the NHL for a 'late hit' and resulting injury.  Anyone who saw that hit on replay after replay could see that although it was late (>than the allowed .5 seconds after puck release) it was NOT a head shot.  Stepan chest took the brunt of the blow which is probably why both on-ice referees didn't call anything. In retrospect an interference penalty could have been called, but a 'match penalty' would have been a stretch. In last night's incident there wasn't as long a time lag from puck release to hit (<.5 seconds), making  it in that aspect a legal check, BUT there is no doubt that the impact point was Weise's head, making the hit deserving of the match penalty Moore received.

3) Thusly, while both hits were illegal, they were for different reasons. In actuality the Prust hit was less 'over the line', than Moore's. Confounding things though is the fact that the NHL takes injury and past history into account. This would explain why Prust got 2 games. Prust has a history of illegal hits and Stepan got injured(not missing any games). On the flip side Moore has no history and it doesn't appear Weise was injured.  We predict Moore will get 2 games like Prust and undoubtedly the NY media will go into convulsions linking the 2 incidents thinking the Prust play deserved more of a suspension. However, 2 games will be appropriate. If  Prust had delivered last night's hit we would have given him 5+ games based upon his history. Conversly if Moore had done so in Game 3 we wouldn't have suspended him at all. Apples and Oranges indeed!! 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Larry Brooks: Blinded by Red, White, Blue Glasses?

1) That's the only conclusion we could come up with pertaining to Larry Brooks' recent rant about Dan Carcillo's 10 game ban for abusing an official in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final game with Montreal.  Brooks' writings on the subject itself appear conflicted. On one hand he writes that the "act was indefensible" then he proceeds to defend the act!Actually blaming the official, linesmen Dan Driscoll with being "Physically provocative"  Huh?  Brooksie, are you freaking kidding me?  If this were a court of law we'd have a field day comparing the 'priors' of Carcillo to that of Driscoll.  The linesmen who's job it is to keep the peace was being provocative to one of the leagues goons?  Come on Larry!

2) Carcillo has always played with an edge and frequently goes over that edge. He had been able to keep those tendency's in check these playoffs. Actually playing well as a solid 4th line energy forward. Scoring a couple of important goals in the process.  Perhaps giving himself a good opportunity  for a decent contract (as he's a UFA at season's end). He may have blown that now. His suspension would last until Game 6 of The Finals (assuming the Rangers get there and need 7 games to win the East) He'll be fortunate to get a 2 way deal, or free agent camp try out deal if his suspension goes into next season. As for Brooks, we respect his writing skills. Especially when he's discussing NHL labour issues or other non-NY rangers subjects. However, this stance defending the indefensible clearly shows when it comes to his beloved Rangers he wears Red, White and Blue coloured glasses!

Monday, May 19, 2014

New York-Chicago Final Imminent?

1) With today's revelation that Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price is out for the remainder of the series against the NY rangers it appears that the path to the Stanley  Cup Finals is all but assured.  Price was injured in the first stanza of Game 1 when NY Rangers forward Chris Kreider lost an edge and 'accidentaly' slid into Price, probably concussing the net minder. Although there has been no official word of the injury our sources say that Price was having post game head aches and a diagnosis of Grade 1 concussion was made by the Habs medical staff making out of the question that he'd be able to play for a week to 10 days at the earliest. Making it a fore gone conclusion that Montreal has lost its best player.

2) On the flip side we don't believe that the Kings, already depleted defense will be able to hold back the onslaught of the Chicago Black hawks. They were able to hang in there in game 1, but it appeared just a matter of time before the flood gates opened up. If not for Jon Quick it could have been worse. From here, with blood in the water, and the Hawks eyeing a return to the Finals thy will only play tougher, and we believe the final 3 games will/could get ugly score-wise

3) Which very well might lead us to an Original 6 Finals. Not a shock since 3 of the 4 teams remaining are from the surviving/remaining original teams in the old NHL, pre- expansion era, but few would have predicted 3-4 weeks ago that we'd see the NY sextet as the East representative.  We are told that Gary Bettman has been telling his friends that he would LOVE a NY-Chi Final. It would allow the NHL's biggest event to take place in 2 of the US's biggest media markets. Almost guaranteeing top TV ratings.  Although we have lots of time until that takes place, all trends are pointing to a Big Apple- Windy City match up

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Conference Finals- Predictions:

1) We have finally come down to the NHL's version of The Final Four.  The series that will decide who will play for the chance to hoist Lord Stanley's Cup! In the West neither team's second consecutive appearance is a surprise. We at Fauxrumors pretty much had the West called correctly. In the East its another story. Few had the two Orignal 6, Rangers and Canadiens as Conference Finalists. We, like most figured Boston and/or Pttsburgh would be the teams competing once again for the Eastern title.All that said, here are our predictions for these series:

2) First The East:

N.Y. Rangers-VS- Montreal Canadiens: Although its a battle of original 6 opponents, these two franchises don't have the long history that the Habs and Bruins brought to their previous series.  Both teams rely on speed and good goaltending. The Rangers defense will have to especially be on their toes as the Canadiens love to cycle down low and create scoring chances with hard board work. They don't have one particular star forward, but a collection of speedy and pesky hard working attackers that will, as Boston found out be difficult to contain.  On the other side can the Rangers continue to ride the St. Louis emotional wave that overcame the 3-1 deficit against Pittsburgh?  Can Lundqvist be the star he was in those last 3 games?  Will Nash finally break out? Can they contain PK Subban?  Can Montreal also regain the emotion that helped them against Boston?  Can Price be a wall like he was against the B's? Which Red, white and Blue team will advance?   In the end we believe that Montreal will prevail and go on to their first Finals appearance in 21 years.
Canadiens in 6

3) Next The West:

Chicago Black Hawks-VS Los Angeles Kings:  As we alluded earlier, hardly a surprise to see the same two teams back again to fight for the Conference. Although neither had the best record, throughout the season one could see they both had the intangibles that make up a winner.  LA especially showed that in the first two rounds. Overcoming a 3-0 deficit in the first round and improbably beating the Sharks. Then, dispatching the regular season West champ Ducks in another thrilling 7 game series in which they trailed 3-2 and stormed back to win. In convincing fashion last night as if to say we are ready to compete for the Cup.  Unfortunately for them, the two previous series took its toll physically.  Losing key defensemen Willie Mitchell and Robyn  Regehr will be felt. Jeff Schultz played adequately in a fill in role, but we know the likes of Sharp, Kane and Towes are salivating at the prospect of going against the 'human pilon'.  Chicago also has that winning intangible but are more healthy and slightly deeper on all positions. Quick will have his hands full and better live up to his sir-name if the Kings have any chance here. If healthy we would have given the nod to LA to advance, but we feel the Hawks will once again represent The West for The Cup.
Black Hawks in 5

Friday, May 16, 2014

Bylsma AND Shero To be Fired

1) In a stunning turn of events the Pittsburgh penguins are set to announce they have fired BOTH their head coach Dan Bylsma AND their General manager, Ray Shero.  It was widely believed that Bylsma would get the axe but it it a bit of a shock that Shero, the architect of the 2009 Cup winning team would also get the heave-ho. We are hearing from several sources that BOTH will not be unemployed long.  In fact the Washingtom Capitals have both gentlemen on 'speed dial'. ;)  Where ever they land a source tells us, neither will be out of work for more than a week or two!

Update:  Evidently things in Pittsburgh are more dysfunctional than originally thought. Today's bizzaro announcement showed that the franchise is split and not as solid as we previously thought.  While we all thought Bylsma would be canned, Shero was instead the fall guy and Bylsma remains twisting in the wind; his fate to be decided by the yet to be announced new GM.  No where to be found was Mario Lemieux.  The person we are told behind today's strange moves. At the very least 66 could have shown up to explain these very massive changes to the organization he owns.  What is even more nuts is we've been told by a well connected player's agent that the pens retained Bylsma to "spite other teams in need of a coach". Meaning he's not who they want, but they don't want any other teams hiring him either?  Insane, yes!  Stay tuned, things are getting loony tunes in The Steel City

Lucic: Douche bag or Sore Loser?

1) Most hockey fans would agree that the post-series handshake is one of the truly amazing moments in the hockey season. Sometimes it’s just as memorable as anything that happened on the ice. It boggles the mind sometimes that players who have competed against each other as though their lives depended upon it for two weeks can line up and extend their hands to each other, but that’s what hockey players do. It’s one of the many things that makes the game unique and wonderful. It’s one of the reasons we watch and love it so much. Which brings us to the reason for this post.  Boston Bruins power forward Milan Lucic's hand shake antics after being defeated by the rival Montreal Canadiens Wednesday night

2) At best it can be said that Milan Lucic disrespected "hockey tradition" with his display of obvious unsportsmanship following his teams ouster at the hands of the hated Montreal Canadiens last night at TD Garden. At worst he was being to total douche bag. To review for those who either didn't see the game or didn't watch the post series hand shakes. Apparently, and confirmed by multiple media outlets (and players themselves)  during the hand shakes when Milan Lucic met up with Dale Weise instead of the obligatory pat on the shoulder, etc.  Lucic went out of his way to tell Weise that he was "going to fucking kill you next year".  Hardly, the sportsman-like gesture we have come to expect even after the most hard fought series we have witnessed over the years. We have NO doubt hat other players have felt like-wise after a series such as this, but none that we can recall have actually been so unabashedly transparent in making his (hard) feelings known to his opponent.

3) To make matters worse after the game in the locker room Lucic instead of conceding that his actions were in poor taste, etc took umbrage at Weise for the audacity of confirming what Lucic had said. Milan, there were dozens of people with microphones and cameras everywhere. Its not like the two of you were in a sound proof booth!  Undoubtedly Lucic was embarrassed that his antics were made public for everyone to witness. Its one thing to have hard feelings and act like an idiot afterwards, but another to be a complete douche.  There is NO place in the NHL for such crap.    Lucic should have known better that, of all places, That was not the venue to start settling scores for everything that happened in the series. You would think a veteran of many NHL seasons that he would be way smarter than that. He’s been playing this game for too long not to know what the post-series handshake means.  In our opinion Lucic should at least be fined for his unsportmanlike behavior. To not say that it could have ignited an ugly incident had Weise reacted like a douche himself. Imagine a brawl AFTER the series is complete. Bettman would have a heart attack with the negative publicity that would bring. Lets hope this is an isolated incident at not a trend of players venting to their opponents. Would be a sad development! 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Rangers Lose By Winning?

1) One of the forgotten consequences of the New York Rangers upset playoff victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins is that they have to relinquish their 1st round pick in the up coming entry draft. As part of the St. Louis trade with Tampa Bay, there was a conditional 2nd round pick (in addition to a 1st rounder in 2015 and the rental of Callahan) which, if the Rangers were to advance to the Conference Finals would become a 1st round pick. So in essence Glen Sather traded his captain and 2 first round picks to Tampa Bay for the services of Martin St.Louis the remainder of 2013-14 and the 2014-2015 seasons.

2) Now, we will admit that IF the Rangers were to win a Cup either this season or next then it doesn't matter a wit what the picks end up doing. However if they fall short then it will be a bitter pill to swallow for the Rangers who are already considered to have a bare farm system. To lose not one, but two prime opportunities to 'restock their shelves' would be devastating for the organization going forward who's best players are not exactly 'young guns'.  Glen Sather by making that deal has essentially gone 'all in'. To win now. Perhaps Glen sees the end of his own managerial career upcoming so is looking more to the short term than the longer term of the franchise. Certainly its a now or wait for a while situation for the Blue Shirts.  Meanwhile Tampa is ecstatic the penguins choked!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Can Islanders Replicate Nets Success?

1) The two franchises are, and probably always will be inexorably linked for multiple reasons. First and foremost they were essentially born together. The Nets from the old ABA, and the Isles an expansion NHL franchise  both got their start in the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum (when it was new and close to being an up to date venue to see a game). Both were originally owned by the same man, the late Roy Boe. The Nets had a few years head start, but their early ABA success mirrored the quick assent the Islanders had (after 2 awful starting seasons).

2) The Nets were admitted into the NBA and moved to greener pastures in NJ (it is the Garden state, right?) where the team quickly fell into perennial oblivion. Occasional spurts of mediocrity only to regain the cellar. Never achieving the stratosphere they had when they were using the old red, white, blue ball of the ABA. The Islanders had their power house stretch from 1975-1985 when they were perennially Cup contenders.  Winning it all 4 times and making it to the Finals 5 years in a row from 1980-1984. (A record 19 playoff series wins will be hard to eclipse!). Following that they fell back to mediocrity then by the mid 90's, NHL obscurity/laughing stock material. Ownership and management fiascoes (including a con man buying the team for a few weeks- See John Spano)

3) Fast forward to today. Despite the likelihood of being dispatched by the current/future NBA champs in Miami  The Nets are again 'relevant'. Their move to Brooklyn seems to have given them a real identity they hadn't had since their ABA and Dr. J. days of lore. Their new Black jerseys evoke a stronger reaction than their previous bland red, white and blue colours.  The team made a conscious effort to replace their name from  New Jersey to Brooklyn, not NY to delineate themselves from the cross town Knicks. Speaking of which, since the move the rivalry between the two teams has heated up considerably. No longer is NY a one basketball team  town.  The Nets are making significant inroads and carving out their own niche in the NY market

4) The BIG question will be, can the Isles mirror the Nets success in the Barclay CenterIt is important to note that a BIG reason Wang didn't move the franchise out of state is their cable TV deal. It will continue unaffected by the move. Had they gone to let's say KC, they would lost that valuable steady income.  We at Fauxrumors feel the move will be beneficial for Islander fans. Yes, many will have a much longer commute to get to the arena, but additionally, and as importantly, they will undoubtedly grow a new, larger fan base in NY's second largest borough.  The team appears a player or two from really competing, and any level of playoff success we believe will bolster/accelerate their Brooklyn acceptance. The most important thing for Isles fans is that they are staying local, and it should now be able to compete economically and put a competitive product on the ice. For them, this day was LONG over due!  Yes, a team will Grow in Brooklyn!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

NHL Coaching Re-Cycling Continues......

1) In  unsurprising news the coaching carousel continued with the Nashville Predators hiring Peter Laviolette. This being his 4th coaching stop over as the Preds head man.  'Lavy' previously was employed by the Islanders, Hurricanes (where he won a Cup) and most recently the Flyers where he lasted all of 3 games this past season.  To be sure he has had success in every stop so its not like he hasn't deserved to be rehired. The other side to that coin is Paul Maurice, who seemingly keeps popping up despite very limited success in his many coaching stops; Carolina(twice) Toronto, and now Winnipeg. Through 16 coaching years Paul has missed the playoffs completely 10 times (and fired twice more mid year)

2) There is almost no doubt that Laviolette's predecessor, Barry Trotz will again be finding work as an NHL head coach. Likely before the playoffs are completed, thus completing that part of the recycling.  Additionally, its also been rumoured that Ron Wilson will be retained by one of the many teams looking to find a head coach. Wilson previously was employed by Anaheim, Washington, SJ, and most recently Toronto.  He actually has had success, albeit, never won a Cup, everywhere other than Toronto(who wins there?)  Our sources tell us that the Panthers have inquired about Ron's interest in moving to the Sun shine state. Ofcourse we have also heard that Vancouver might be interested.  

3) Additionally we are told to not be shocked if John Tortorella gets a job interview over the summer, although he has 4 years and 8 million left to be paid by the Canucks so he doesn't have to work. In the next week or so we might also have another vacancy and coaching candidate when the fate of Sharks head boss Todd McLellan is known.  There is little doubt that Todd will get an interview by one of the clubs needing a replacement. Most likely the Panthers or Capitals, but the Caps also need to shore up their GM position first.

4)  So why the seemingly endless re-cycling of names?  GM's understandably concerned about their own job security are less likely make many daring hires.  Therefore the biggest employment pool consists of coaches who were fired by other NHL teams. The exception was when, starting with the Caps hiring of Bruce Boudreau in 2007 There was an infatuation with graduating American Hockey League coaches. However, in the last few years that seems to have run its course, judging by the favourites list for the various openings. Dallas Eakins’ struggles in his first season with the Edmonton Oilers may have something to do with that.  At this point, the AHL head coach with the best chance of moving up might actually be the Oilers’ guy. Todd Nelson coaches the Oklahoma City Barons, the Oiler farm team.

5) Other possible candidates that wouldn't shock us and have had previous NHL head coaching experience are Guy (Scar) Boucher (Formerly of Tampa Bay), John Stevens (formally of Philadelphia). Coaches who we are told will NOT be given an offer this time are: Kirk Muller, and Adam Oates. The feeling around the league is they need additional years as assistants or AHL seasoning before they get their next shot at the big time. The name some love to throw around is 'Iron' Mike Keenan, but our sources tell us it would be an incredible long shot to see the 64 year old who hasn't coached in the NHL in 5 years(Works in the KHL) and last won a playoff series in 1996! 

Monday, May 5, 2014

Gretzky To Capitals? Dumb Idea!

1) It appears that the Washington Capitals are contemplating doing what many teams appear to be doing these days. That is have a highly regarded former NHL-er in its front office as either GM, president or a combination of titles. It can be traced back to Tampa bay who hired Steve Yzerman a few years ago.  More recently the Canucks, under heavy criticism and scrutiny after they fired both their GM and head coach, hired beloved former captain Trevor Linden to relieve the pressure. Toronto also under similar pressure hired former player safety head and Hall of Famer Brendan Shanahan to be its teams new president.  Additionally the Hurricanes promoted former super star player Ron Francis to be their new GM

2) The rumours circulating in the nation's capital is that team owner Ted Leonsis (the emaciated one) is talking with Wayne Gretzky to possibly be promoted to an unnamed front office position. With the firing of both GM George McPhee, and head coach Adam Oates the team has a front office void. It seems Leonsis wants some veteran presence in the front to help in the process of filling the vacant positions. Ted has not yet had to hire a GM in either of his professional sports teams, owned for 20 odd years. The Wizards and Capitals have had amazing front office job security despite either team ever winning anything.

3) Now, while we don't think it a bad idea that Ted get as much input as possible before hiring a man that will shape his franchise for years to come, we have to say " Are you nuts" with the possible choose of 'The Great One' who we as you might recall, have renamed The Greedy One".
  We would be first to conceded that Gretzky is unarguably one of the top 3 or 4 best hockey players to even lace em' up. However we have not seen a wit of reason to believe he is even a competent NHL executive, let alone one to make franchise altering decisions.

4) From the moment he retired he appeared to feel he was entitled to be hired in some one's front office. He was given the head coaching job in Arizona with no experience. As you may recall, we weren't keen on his job there. We were optimistic that the team would improve with his departure, and we have been vindicated.
 From there he got his panties in a bunch when the team declared bankruptcy and was not given his full (minority) share of the ownership when the NHL took over and sold the team. No one else got full share but TGO demanded he be reimbursed. He was not seen at any NHL sponsored events for a couple of years until the NHL relented and paid The Greedy One off. Now he again has his hand open, ready to be paid for being, well, Wayne Gretzky.  The Capitals would be foolish to hire this self serving, greedy bastard.  Only thing I'd want more of, are pics of Paulina.  ;)

Friday, May 2, 2014

Torts Toast: Rangers Win Coach 'Trade'?

1) With the firing of John Tortorella after only 1 season the books are closed, sort of speak, on the unofficial 'trade' of coaches last summer. To review; after their teams' respective disappointing seasons John Tortorella then of the NY Rangers and Alain Vigneault of the Canucks were both relieved of their head coaching duties.  Within weeks both had found employment, with the other's former team. Tortorella getting hired by the Canucks and Vigneault taking Torts' old job in New York.

2) Both are polar opposites of each other is almost every way.  Tortorella, the fiery hot head, and Vigneault the more reserved type who rarely would be seen in a tirade, and never anything like Tortorella has been known for.  To start the season it appeared that Tortorella of the two had made the easiest transition with the Canucks getting off to a decent start. Meanwhile the Rangers seemed to take much longer to find their new 'identity' and struggled to stay in the Eastern Conference's playoff picture.   However, after the New year both teams fortunes seemed to go in opposite directions. 

3) The Canucks downfall can almost be traced back to one incident when Torts chased Calgary Flames coach Bob Hartley.   The incident was sparked by Flames coach Bob Hartley’s decision to start his fourth line in the game, prompting Tortorella to send out his fourth line. The resulting "line brawl" racked up 152 penalty minutes in just two seconds of play It was Tortorella’s actions in the hallway to the Flames' dressing room that drew the biggest rebuke from the League. Hartley refused to acknowledge Tortorella when the Canucks coach profanely protested the lineup move with a tirade directed at the Calgary bench. So Tortorella followed the Flames to their dressing room entrance and had to be physically restrained from going after them.

4) His two week ban coincided with the teams' fall out of playoff contention. Sure, the myriad of injuries didn't help, but when your coach 'loses it', and banned from being around the team it isn't helpful for the cause. Fast forward to yesterday. While the Rangers were winning their first round playoff contest Tortorella was being fired by the Canucks.  Clearly the Rangers won that trade!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Conference Semi-Final Predictions

1) Well, an exciting opening round is in the books with 3 exciting game 7's finishing things up last evening.  To wrap that up quickly and review our first round predictions, we went a decent 6 of 8 in predicting the series winners. The only series we were way off on was the Lightning-Habs series, where the Canadiens took care of business rather easily in 4. The Wild upsetting the Av's in a stunning OT game 7 thriller much less a shock to us.  With all that in mind its time to move on as the next round starts in just a few hours when the Bruins and Montreal commence yet another chapter in their storied history.

2) First the East:

  • Boston-VS-Montreal: Very little needs to be said about these teams with regard to their long playoff histories. The Canadiens have the all-time edge, but it's the Bruins who have won seven of their last 11 battles, including the last two in 2009 and 2011.  Both teams have had lots of time off from their opening round wins and should be as healthy as teams can be this time of year. Not sure how meaningful it is but the Canadiens won three out of four of their meetings during the regular season.  No team can throw out 4 solid lines like Boston.  Their defense is solid and likely Vezina winner Tuuka Rask is there if they break down. Not that Price is any slouch in net.  The element that the Habs have is team speed. Can Boston keep up with the pesky Canadiens?  WE don't think they will be able to for 7 games, though it will be a bruising series.  Canadiens in 7

  • Pittsburgh-VS-New York: Just what Mr. Bettman wants. His best player (Crosby) verses the biggest media market.  The obvious advantage for the Blue shirts is in goal, but Lundqvist hasn't exactly been stellar at times in the first round.  We already know about Fleury's playoff issues.  The Pens were fortunate to be playing an inferior Blue Jackets team in the opening round, else they'd be done. Still, they managed to win despite almost no help from their star players. We cant see that happening in consecutive series. They will have to shore up their defense.  On the other side can Nash score a goal in the post season?  If not, this could be a short series.  WE believe the defense and goaltending of NY will be good enough to stretch the series, but not enough to hold back Pittsburgh from ultimately prevailing. Penguins in 6
3) The West:
  • Anaheim-VS-Los Angeles: Yet, another battle of California. We feel the struggles the Ducks had against a much inferior Dallas team showed their many chincs in their armor.  They will benefit from having a few days off, but is that really a help or will it make it more difficult to ramp things up again?  There is no doubt that team leader Getzlaf, and Selanne  needed the time off.  Like the other West series, one team has a solid/stellar goalie (Quick) and the other has question marks.  Who starts in goal Anaheim? Probably Hiller, but if he falters even a little Boudreau will give him the quick hook. We feel that will be the difference here. Goaltening, and the intangible winning feel the Kings seem to posses that propelled them here against a very tough, albeit shaky Shark team. Also like the other west series, this one will be easier for the eventual winner.  Kings in 6

  • Chicago-VS- Minnesota: The Wild coming off their thrilling 7 game OT win against the Avalanche get rewarded for their trouble by given the opportunity to now face the Stanley Cup champs.  The Wild unfortunately for them have been snake bit in goal where injury after injury has reduced them to playing a rookie Darcy Kuemper, and the mentally ill Ilya Bryzgalov.  With (another) injury, it looks like its Bryzgalov again.  With the Hawks offense humming along against a very solid Blues team in the first round, we can't see the less experienced Wild with inferior goaltending stopping this juggernaut. The Black hawks got their needed rest to heal up and we only see the Wild as a small bump in their road toward the conference Finals.  Black Hawks in 5

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