On To Round Two
Friday, April 25, 2008 | 03:59 PM ET
As advertised, round one featured some very good hockey, a couple of upsets, and one big disappointment in our nation’s Capital. As hesitant as I was to make predictions in round one, most of them played out the way I had thought. If you are keeping score at home, round one went 6-2.
The upset of round one had to be the Dallas Stars' disposal of the defending Stanley Cup Champion Anaheim Ducks. For most of the last month of the season, the Stars were a team that couldn’t find their game, but in round one, they came together perfectly as they frustrated and picked apart the defending champs, and at times made Anaheim look like a bunch of undisciplined whiners. Well done to Dave Tippett and his staff.
In Ottawa, the Senators' exit in round one was nothing short of a disaster, and brings an end to a most disappointing season. Ottawa didn’t compete, rarely showed any life, were outbattled, outworked and outplayed throughout the entire four-game sweep. The Sens only held a lead for just 4:28 of the series, and are left with a long summer of questions top to bottom throughout the organization.
In round two, there are some great match-ups that have the potential to give us some entertaining hockey. Let’s start in the East.
1. Montreal vs. 6. Philadelphia
I would hate to think what the fans in Montreal will do if the amazing story continues for the Habs. Burning police cars and rioting after winning round 1? What will they do if Lord Stanley is in the building?
Montreal learned a few valuable playoff lessons in round one after Boston showed great heart and resiliency in forcing a Game 7. That may end up being the one thing that Guy Carbonneau needed to teach his young team how to win. Surviving a Game 7 on home ice and winning it with a shutout from his rookie goalie is the kind of experience money can’t buy.
The Canadiens are much more battle-tested after round 1 and will be much more prepared to go to war with a Philadelphia team that has some pretty good karma going itself.
This series is going to be a beauty. Philly has a ton of confidence after winning Game 7 on the road, and has plenty of offensive balance to challenge Montreal. Expect a ton of traffic around Carey Price, as the Flyers will try to bully the young netminder.
This one will be close, but I think in the end, the difference will be Price out-dueling Biron.
PREDICTION: Montreal in 6
2. Pittsburgh vs. 5. New York Rangers
I know people around the NHL were hoping for a Washington – Pittsburgh showdown, but Pit/ NYR is about the next best thing. There are some great storylines and matchups in this one, with the confident Penguins and their superstar young guns, against the old guard experience of the Rangers.
New York has the edge in Stanley Cups with eight between Brendan Shanahan, Jaromir Jagr, Scott Gomez and Chris Drury (compared to the 1 that Gary Roberts owns), but the Penguins are clearly a different team than the one that bowed out in round 1 last season.
I think this will be a very tough, physical, highly skilled series, that you know at some point will have a controversy led by either Sean Avery or Jarkko Ruutu. The real treat though will be getting to watch Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Marian Hossa go head to head with Jagr, Gomez, Drury, Shanahan. This has all the makings of a fantastic series.
Marc-Andre Fleury holds the key for the Pens, as it will be his challenge to match or beat Henrik Lundqvist at the other end.
Two very evenly matched teams in what will be a very close series. I think the lack of adversity that Pittsburgh faced against Ottawa will hurt them. I don’t think they are ready for a Cup run yet.
PREDICTION: New York in 7
1. Detroit vs 6. Colorado
Visions of Chris Draper in a pool of blood and Claude Lemieux and Darren McCarty and Patrick Roy and Mike Vernon attacking each other at center ice are memories that are hard to get out of your mind when you think of this matchup. Two teams with a great playoff rivalry over the last decade.
Some of the same characters are still playing, and once again will take center stage.
Colorado surprised many with how well they handled the Minnesota Wild, and the Avs veteran stars have all seemed to turn back the clock to past glory. Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg, Adam Foote, Jose Theodore all played well in round one, and will need to be even better against the talented Red Wings.
The Wings looked like they might falter after losing games 3 and 4 in Nashville, then needing overtime in game 5, but in the end, they were a more skilled, experienced, and deeper team than the Predators.
I felt that going into the playoffs, the Wings goaltending would be an issue, and in round 1 it was. Hasek is out, Osgood is in. Osgood performed beautifully in the last three games, but was never really tested like he will be in this round.
If the Avs stay healthy, this will be a heck of a series. This will be Chris Osgood’s series to win or lose.
PREDICTION: Colorado in 7
2. San Jose vs 5. Dallas
The Sharks waded through rough and murky waters during their round 1, Game 7 win against the Flames. At no time during the series did they show the kind of dominant game that earned them an 18-2-2 record down the stretch. They may have won Game 7 to douse the Flames, but their erratic play in the series hasn’t silenced their critics.
It was Jeremy Roenick who supplied the Game 7 heroics, not Joe Thornton or Patrick Marleau. The Sharks top guns will have to be better in this series and Brian Campbell will have to find a way to get more involved offensively if the Sharks are to win.
Dallas is in the perfect position, they are playing with no pressure, are riding high on momentum after beating the defending champs, and playing a team that seems to be fighting its own high expectations of having to win the Cup now.
The Sharks are a perfect opponent for the Dallas Stars, and if they continue to get healthy with Sergei Zubov coming back they are poised for an upset.
PREDICTION: Dallas in 6
This discussion is now Open. Submit your Comment.
Post a Comment
About the Author
Former NHL player, coach and broadcaster Craig Simpson brings over 18 years of expertise to his analyst role on CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada. Craig played 10 years in the NHL with Pittsburgh, Buffalo and Edmonton, capturing two Stanley Cups with the Oilers in 1988 and 1990. He continues to hold the distinction of being the last Oiler to score 50 goals in one season (56 goals in 1987-88).
Injuries cut his playing career short in 1995, but the native of London, Ont., didn’t stray far from the game. Simpson worked for eight seasons as a hockey commentator with TSN, FoxSportsNet and Rogers Sportsnet and was an assistant coach with the Oilers organization for the past four years (2003-07) before joining CBC.
Simpson lives in Edmonton with his wife and three children. Viewers can catch Craig on Saturday nights providing analysis and commentary during the second game on HNIC. His blog appears every Tuesday on CBCSports.ca.
- The NHL’s best two teams face off
- Wednesday, May 21, 2008
- It's down to the final four
- Tuesday, May 6, 2008
- On To Round Two
- Friday, April 25, 2008
- Round One Begins
- Wednesday, April 9, 2008
- Was Playfair really the problem?
- Tuesday, April 1, 2008
- Subscribe to Simpson on Hockey