How does it feel Columbus, are you in playoff mode or still thanking the hockey gods for the opportunity to play for the Cup? Can you dethrone the champs and move on to Round 2?
Calgary, are you OK, wondering if the team will ever get healthy? Do you feel like a big underdog even though you team has the playoff experience and the up-and-coming Blackhawks are just sticking their toes into the playoff pool?
You folks on the left coast, are you prepared for the battle in California? Only the strongest will survive and the pressure is building in San Jose. The Ducks have the experience, the Sharks want to prove their doubters wrong and in the end, only one team can move on.
The St. Louis Blues are hot, the Vancouver Canucks have the goalie everyone thinks can carry them to the Stanley Cup Final, but only one team can win. The Blues came out of nowhere and the Canucks are now expected to get on a playoff roll. We don’t know how this will finish, but it will be fun to watch.
The media buzz in NYC and Washington D.C. is Avery and Ovechkin. If I were in control of all things media, I would focus on Jose Theodore and Henrik Lundqvist. This series will be determined by the men wearing the masks.
Carolina feels good, entering the playoffs on a roll with a hot goalie. The New Jersey Devils have the experience and the goaltending to win. If you can answer “who wants it more?”, you will have the winner of this series.
Boston is on Montreal’s mind and with good reason. The Canadiens have the chance of turning their so-so season into a memorable one. Boston is heavily favored and now must live-up to the hype.
For the next two weeks or so, the State of Pennsylvania is the hockey State. Pittsburgh vs. Philadelphia will be a series that will become an “instant classic.” Right out of the gate the series tone will be set and it will be fun watching it play out.
Round 1, aka the Conference Quarterfinals will provide us hockey fans with a taste of what is to come. Play a shift at a time, dig deep, only the strong survive. OT wins, shots of the posts, blown breakaways and tremendous saves are in our future and I am ready, are you?
If not, it is not too late to prepare. Get into the game now and stay with it for the next two months. The ride is great, the outcome is up in the air and right now it is a sprint -- First to 16 wins starts tomorrow.
Questions, comments, want to talk hockey, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.