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The NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs - Quarter Finals

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Contributor:
Scott Newman
Scott Newman
The Stanley Cup

The Stanley Cup Finals are ready to start on Wednesday 15th April. I am taking a look at the match ups offering my analysis, key players and predictions for each round. (Even if my team the Dallas Stars didn't make it!) It looks to be a thrilling playoff series with new and familiar rivalries in the quest for the 2008-2009 Stanley Cup!

 

Western Conference Finals

#1. San Jose Sharks (117pts)  vs.  #8. Anaheim Ducks (91pts)

The Sharks are the president trophy winners for the first time in their history and were solid all season. Tagged as favourites from the start but you have to wonder can this highly skilled roster get past the second round?         The Ducks battled hard to make the playoffs edging out Minnesota & Nashville. They have a great team filled with playoff experience (Niedermayer, Pronger, Selanne in particular) but can they win at the shark tank?

Key Player Matchups:

Sharks - Joe Thornton, Dan Boyle, Rob Blake, Patrick Marleau, Nabokov

Ducks - Ryan Getzlaf, Scott Niedermayer, Chris Pronger, Teemu Selanne, Giguere/Hiller?

Prediction: San Jose Sharks in 6.

#2. Detroit Red Wings (112pts)  vs.  #7. Columbus Blue Jackets (92pts)

Red Wings are the defending champions. They have an amazingly deep team but show vulnerability in goal tending? However it is a team full of experience, leadership and consistency. Have the Wings got what it takes? The Blue Jackets are the Cinderella team making the playoffs for the first time in their franchise history. They face the division rivals in a match up they would be happy about. (Going 3/3 tie this season) Can they do it?

Key Player Matchups:

Red Wings - Pavel Datsyuk, Niklas Lidstrom, Brian Rafalski, Henrik Zetterberg, Osgood/Conklin!?

Blue Jackets - Rick Nash, Kristian Huselius, Michael Peca, Mike Commodore, Mason!

Prediction: Blue Jackets in 6 (upset prediction!!! I feel this hinges on Game 1. Nash/Mason need to be BIG)

#3. Vancouver Canucks (100pts)  vs.  #6. St. Louis Blues (92pts)

The Canucks have been hot, on a roll and turned their season around. Survived without Luongo at parts. Picked up Mats Sundin. They look good.  Armed with the twins. Plenty of potential ... is this the year for Vancouver?      The Blues battled the hardest through injuries, poor goal tending and inconsistency. They sure turned everything around finished well to leap from 8th to 6th in the last season game.  So what is left for them to give?

Key Player Matchups:

Canucks - Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, Pavol Demitra, Mats Sundin, Roberto Luongo

Blues - Brad Boyes, Keith Tkachuk, Paul Kariya?, Andy McDonald, C Mason

Prediction: Canucks in 5.

#4. Chicago Black Hawks (104pts)  vs.  #5. Calgary Flames (98pts)

Chicago is an original 6 hockey town which can be happy with making the playoffs but would view this as a big chance of going all the way with a young in-experienced team full of excitement. They looked strong all season. The Flames are a playoff team. They have looked lost a lot of the time this season which showed across the whole team unusually into Iginla and Kippers game? They lost the season series 0-4 to Chicago, that means 0

Kay Player Matchups:

Black Hawks - Martin Havlat, Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Brian Campbell, Khabibulin/Huet?

Flames - Jarome Iginla, Michael Cammalleri, Olli Jokinen, Dion Phaneuf, Kiprusoff

Prediction: Black Hawks in 7. (This has 7 written all over it as these teams both want to go on bad!)

 

Eastern Conference Finals

#1. Boston Bruins (116pts)  vs.  #8. Montreal Canadiens (93pts)

Boston has led the East practically the whole season and face the bitter rivalry of the Habs once more. Except this time they have the upper hand with a team ready to go all the way for a decent run at the cup led by Chara.  The Canadiens started with a hiss and a roar, fired coach Carbonneau? Faced injury and plenty of issues in the centenary year of the most succesful franchise in NHL history. Facing a division rival in do or die encounter!

Key Player Matchups:

Bruins - Marc Savard, Zdeno Chara, Denis Wideman, Mark Recchi, Thomas

Canadiens - Alexei Kovalev, Andrei Markov?, Mathieu Schneider, Alex Tanguay, Price

Prediction: Bruins in 4. (Sweep! The Habs are in disarray.)

#2. Washington Capitals (108pts)  vs.  #7. New York Rangers (95pts)

The Capitals have been dominating with a destructive offensive game with Ovechkin claiming the Maurice Rocket Richard trophy for his 56 goals. Perhaps goaltending could decide their fate as it is a weakness?     Rangers are hanging in there as they battled to make the playoffs. The new coach John Tortorella has fired up the veterans and guided the Rangers to where they are. They certainly look like a team that can spoil things.

Key Player Matchups:

Capitals - Alexander Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Alexander Semin, Mike Green, Theodore/Johnson!?

Rangers - Chris Drury, Scott Gomez, Nikolai Zherdev, Michal Rozsival, Henrik Lundqvist

Prediction: Capitals in 7. (This promises to be a tough, long series the longer it goes the edge goes to Caps)

#3. New Jersey Devils (106pts)  vs.  #6. Carolina Hurricanes (97pts)

The Devils are the epitome of playoff hockey in the East. Marty Brodeur dictates just how far these guys will go. They had looked invincible at times and had Marty out most of the season, never count out the Devils in playoffs Hurricanes are red hot and look to blow away the competition in the East peaking at the right time of year! I feel as though they are the opposite of the Devils (match well) poor start strong finish. The canes went 3-1 in series

Key Player Matchups:

Devils - Zach Parise, Patrik Elias, Jamie Langenbrunner, Paul Martin, Martin Brodeur!

Hurricanes - Ray Whitney, Eric Staal, Rod Brind'Amour, Joe Corvo, Ward

Prediction: Hurricanes in 6. (Upset! I just think that the Canes are playing well, enough to trouble Marty!)

#4. Pittsburgh Penguins (99pts)  vs.  #5. Philadelphia Flyers (99pts)

The Penguins boast Evgeni Malkin Art Ross Trophy winner with 113pts. Sidney Crosby led them well. They are another team that went shaky, fired the coach and now look like the steel they promised to be. (With M.A.F.)  Flyers have been dominant this season they are division rivals with the Pens and won't be thrilled to face them. However they have a solid attack and Kimmo Timonen has a big job to do.  This may sum up the Flyers season

Key Players Matchups:

Penguins - Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby, Petr Sykora, Sergei Gonchar, Marc-Andre Fleury

Flyers - Jeff Carter, Mike Richards, Simon Gagne, Kimmo Timonen, Biron/Nittymaki!?

Prediction: Penguins in 7. (This will be a heck of a battle. This match's up well almost too well! Pens, too good)

I love playoff hockey and look forward to every series.  There really is no easy series here. (Except maybe the fall of the Habs?)  I think home Ice will not be as important except for the top teams who have fantastic records at home that may be the key to their success. I listed the goaltenders in italics with ?! to either injured/Key players or that the team could go with the opposite number.

Enjoy the Stanley Cup playoffs see you in Round 2.

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