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Playoff Picks - Broadcasters Select Conference Semifinal Winners

by Blue Jackets Staff / Columbus Blue Jackets

Every year the Columbus Blue Jackets television and radio broadcasters breakdown the playoffs and give you a feel for what to look for when the puck drops in the postseason. After round one, Danny Gare and George Matthews picked 6-of-8 series correctly while Bill Davidge and Jeff Rimer finished with 5-of-8. Let see how each do in round two.



This season, each will give you a key(s) to the series, three stars of the series as well as their picks for all of the second round match-ups.

WESTERN CONFERENCE

We start in the Western Conference with the top seed Detroit Red Wings moving on, via a 4-2 series win over Nashville, to face the No. 6 seed in the Western Conference, Colorado Avalanche - Bill Davidge has the breakdown.

No. 6 Colorado  vs. No. 1 Detroit

Detroit in 6 games

During the regular season the Red Wings shutout the Avalanche three times in four victories - Dominik Hasek twice (3-0-0) and Chris Osgood once (1-0-0). It will be interesting to see what Detroit does in goal - Osgood is the No. 1 and deserves to play. Colorado's D-man group does not match Detroit's but Joe Sakic, Adam Foote and Peter Forsberg will help Colorado get two games.

Keys… For Detroit to have success they have to tighten up on defensive end, especailly after getting scored on - which they seemed to have a problem with against the Predators in round one. No defensive lapses, puck control (always), and physical play from Niklas Kronwall. For Colorado, they will need great goaltending and need to rely on the experience of Sakic, Foote and Forsberg.

Three Stars

3rd… Kris Draper is a leader and the history of what happened to him in this rivalry in the past will provide ammunition for him to be the unsung hero of the series. He is Detroit's best faceoff guy, kills penalties and has the experience.

2nd… Chris Osgood/Dominik Hasek combination in net. If they are as good against Colorado as they were in the regular season this will not be a long series.

1st… Pavel Datsyuk is the key to every series from here on out for the Wings.

Other Picks: Gare - DET in 6, Rimer - DET in 6 and Matthews - DET in 6/7.


Continuing in the Western Conference, George Matthews gives us his breakdown of series between No. 2 seed San Jose and No. 5 seed Dallas. The season series was split with each team winning four games apiece.

No. 5 Dallas vs. No. 2 San Jose

San Jose in 7 games

Keys… For San Jose, they must win at home. They need to use their size, speed and continue to get big efforts from Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Jonathan Cheechoo. Anything from Ryan Clowe is a bonus after he had 4-4-8 in the first round series. For Dallas, the defense someway, somehow has to keep Thornton, Marleau, Cheechoo out of the crease - keep the size of the Sharks away from the net, which will be no small task.

Three Stars

3rd… Patrick Marleau because he is playing his best hockey of the season, having scored 2-4-6 against Calgary.

2nd… Marty Turco has the pressure of winning a series off his shoulders after posting a 2.01 GAA and .912 save percentage in the Calgary series.

1st… Joe Thornton - Jumbo Joe's size and play making abilities will be deciding factors against the Stars.

Other Picks: Gare - DAL in 6, Rimer - SJ in 7 and Davidge - SJ in 7.


EASTERN CONFERENCE

Switching sides, we look at the Eastern Conference with No. 1 seed Montreal and No. 6 seed Philadelphia each coming off of seven game series victories - Danny Gare has the breakdown.

No. 6 Philadelphia vs. No. 1 Montreal

Montreal in 6 games

The power play will be key for both teams, as they were 1-2 in the regular season in PP efficiency.

Keys... For Montreal, the Kostitsyn brothers have both been good and need to continue to be, while Kovalev provides leadership, and back healthy are Saku Koivu and Mark Streit. For Philadelphia, the Quebec natives Danny Briere and Martin Biron will have to continue their strong play to upset Montreal.

Three Stars

3rd... Carey Price because under pressure he proved he can come back from a little adversity (losing games 5 and 6 vs. Boston) and win a big game (5-0 shutout in game 7).

2nd... Martin Biron he too won a game 7 that he can build off of and has more than enough postseason experience to help the Flyers advance.

1st...  Montreal's Storied Franchise because of the pressure of not making the playoffs a year ago has completely turned around and the entire Canadiens Nation is looking to add another banner to the rafters of the Bell Centre. They are the favorites and history tends to repeat itself, with Montreal having a great chance to add to the storied franchise's history.

Other Picks: Davidge - MTL in 5, Rimer - MTL in 6 and Matthews - MTL in 5/6.



The other series in the Eastern Conference might be the best of the bunch, featuring the No. 5 seed New York Rangers and the No. 2 seed Pittsburgh Penguins - Jeff Rimer has the breakdown.
 

No. 5 New York Rangers vs. No. 2 Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh in 7

Tough matchup to pick, but an NBC/VERSUS dream series and it is unfortunate they aren't meeting in the conference finals.

Key... For Pittsburgh, to continue to get scoring from Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Jordan Staal, Ryan Malone up front. Sergei Gonchar will quarterback the power play.

Three Stars

3rd... Sidney Crosby because he's a complete player and will continue his coming out party in the 2008 playoffs.

2nd... Evgeni Malkin proved his value and has great offensive ability.

1st... Henrik Lundqvist because he will keep the Rangers in the series based on his round one performance.

Other Picks: Davidge - NYR in 6, Gare - NYR in 6 and Matthews - PITT in 6/7.
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