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Stanley Cup Challenge: Pick More Winners than our Experts
CBJ.com's Stanley Cup Coverage

by Staff Writer / Columbus Blue Jackets
One of hockey's most respected analysts, Brian Engblom joined the Columbus Blue Jackets broadcast team as television color analyst on FSN Ohio in September 2004. The former National Hockey League All-Star and Stanley Cup champion has been involved with the NHL for over two decades as both a player and broadcaster.

Engblom played 11 seasons in the NHL, joining the Canadiens during the 1977 Stanley Cup Playoffs and went on to spend five-plus seasons with the club. During that time, he helped Montreal capture three consecutive Stanley Cup championships (1977-79) and earned NHL Second Team All-Star honors in 1981-82. Engblom also played for the Washington Capitals in 1982 and the Kings (1983-86), Buffalo Sabres (1986) and Calgary Flames (1986-87).

Below is Engblom's anaylsis of the First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs as well as the pick of each of the Columbus Blue Jackets' broadcasters, Engblom, Jeff Rimer, George Matthews and Bill Davidge.
Our Expert’s Picks

Disagree with the Columbus Blue Jackets broadcasters? Submit your picks for each series via email, and if you pick more correct winners than Engblom, you will be placed in a drawing to win a personalized home Blue Jackets jersey from The Blueline (one will be rewarded for each round). Don't forget to enter before each round and keep checking back to BlueJackets.com to see where you stack up.

Registration for the First Round is now closed. Log on just before the start of the next round to enter again.



Western Conference
No. 1 Detroit Red Wings vs. No. 8 Edmonton Oilers

Detroit is the team to beat in these playoffs, period. Detroit will win. They have an awesome power play and a great penalty kill, plus they have extraordinary talent and a wealth of winning experience in their core players. The Red Wings are the best puck-possession team on the planet. They also have the best defenseman anywhere (Nicklas Lidstrom), who can easily dominate for 30 minutes a night, plus they also have defenseman Mathieu Schneider, who is hugely under rated. G Manny Legace has no track-record in playoffs, but is still good enough to win this series.

I like Edmonton’s team, a lot, but they got matched-up against the best, right off the bat. They do not have enough glue to stop the slide when Detroit creates adversity for them. Goaltender Dwayne Roloson would have to be superman for them to win, and he has not looked like a super-hero yet. Engblom: Detroit Rimer: Detroit

 

No. 2 Dallas Stars vs. No. 7 Colorado Avalanche
Dallas will win. The Stars have more balance and a better work-ethic. C Mike Modano is playing terrific and all four forward lines can play significant minutes. It is the depth of their third and fourth lines that will win the series. Dallas’ defense corp. is better and goaltender Marty Turco is motivated to win. He does, however, need to get rolling early to overcome his past history of mediocre performances in the playoffs and inspire his teammates. He needs to be the same guy they have had back there all season.

 

Colorado has strong special teams which will give Dallas fits, but they do not seam to have the same overall confidence they have had in the past. It seems a lot to ask of goaltender Jose Theodore to all of a sudden be the MVP goalie he was a few years ago, when he has just returned from eight weeks off, due to injury, in an otherwise mediocre season for his standards.

No. 3 Calgary Flames vs. No. 6 Mighty Ducks of Anaheim
Anaheim will upset Calgary. Teemu Selanne is inspiring this team, not unlike the Finnish Olympic squad he led to a silver medal, in Torino. They are a dynamic, fast team that has steadily improved as the season progressed. They can score, they have energy, and they have leadership. The team has charisma, and they have Scott Niedermayer on defense, who can get them out of jams in their own end and take control of games like few others in the world. He has won more championships at every level of hockey, than anyone in the NHL. G Jean-Sebastien Giguere has taken them to the Cup finals before, he is battle-tested.

Calgary has the best goalie in hockey, in Miikka Kiprusoff. He will make this a very long, difficult series, but the Flames just can’t score. They are the lowest scoring team in the playoffs. This year's playoffs will be different than the past. You must be able to score. They have little confidence in that department and it will cost them dearly. I love Calgary’s defense, which is one of the top three in the NHL. Penalties will really hurt Calgary and Anaheim. This series will exhaust Anaheim, but I think they will win.

No. 4 Nashville Predators vs. No. 5 San Jose Sharks
San Jose will win. C Joe Thornton is awesome. He creates room for everyone else on his team, because the opposition becomes fixated on him, and he still puts up points. They have tremendous momentum, coming in on the strength of their last 12 – 15 games. They are better than they were a month ago, and they are hard to figure out. Either one of their goalies can play, but I would think that Evgeni Toskala would be the guy, based on his run this past month. C Patrick Marleau can win games for you, while you are busy worrying about Thornton and RW Jonathan Cheechoo.

Nashville was badly hurt by the loss of starting goaltender Tomas Vokoun for the rest of the year. He was the biggest reason they did so well in the first half of the season. Back up goaltender Chris Mason has big shoes to fill and no experience to fill them with. Nashville was showing some chinks in their armor, even before Vokoun was lost to them. They have some terrific young talent and their power play is capable of winning some games for them, if they get hot, but I think, in this battle of land predators vs. ocean predators, the chum is in the water.

Eastern Conference
No. 1 Ottawa Senators vs. No. 8 Tampa Bay Lightning.

Ottawa will win this series. The Senators can score and they have depth. They have a mobile defense, in fact one of the top-three defense corps in the NHL. Their core players have been well-schooled for defensive playoff hockey. Head coach Bryan Murray will help them put more emotion into their game. Even if starting goaltender Dominic Hasek can’t play, rookie Ray Emery is good enough to win this series.

Tampa does not have the same confidence, as it did during its 2003-04 Stanley Cup winning season. Without Nikolai Khabibulin, their goaltending is just not good enough to win the series.

In the new NHL, power plays will be big and Ottawa had one of the best while Tampa’s was mediocre.

No. 2 Carolina Hurricanes vs. No. 7 Montreal Canadiens
Carolina will win this series, but this one will be closer than most people think. Carolina had a tremendous season, but lost a lot of steam in the last two weeks. They must prove that they have regained it. They do not have a wealth of “winning” experience, but they can score. Goaltender Martin Gerber was not nearly as sharp in the past month as he was earlier in the season. He must get back in the groove again, if they are going to make a run to the Cup.

Montreal used a lot of energy just getting into the playoffs. Goaltender Cristobal Huet would have to be brilliant to overcome the discrepancy between the teams. RW Alex Kovalev must produce for them. Montreal is just not quite good enough overall to beat Carolina.

No. 3 Buffalo Sabres vs. No. 6 Philadelphia Flyers
Buffalo will win. Their special teams were near the top all season long. They will hurt Philadelphia on their power play. Their forwards will give the Flyers' defense a tough time. They are so quick. Philadelphia must solve Buffalo’s fore check and stay out of the penalty box. I don’t think they can do both effectively enough to win the series.

Both teams have questions in goal, but I think they neutralize each other.

No. 4 New Jersey Devils vs. No. 5 New York Rangers

New Jersey will win. Their surprising first place finish in the division will fuel them past the Rangers, who really lost momentum in the last two weeks. The first two games of this series will be critical, if the Rangers can score early, they will be tough to beat. Their power play fuels them, and it is a good one, but I think New Jersey is too smart and too disciplined to take a lot of penalties. They will steadily squeeze the life out of the Ranger offense, like a giant boa-constrictor.

Never bet against goaltender Martin Brodeur, one of the best “money” goaltenders of all time.

Our Expert's Picks:

Detroit, Dallas, Anaheim, San Jose; Ottawa, Carolina, Buffalo, New Jersey.

Detroit, Dallas, Calgary, San Jose; Ottawa, Carolina, Buffalo, New Jersey.

Detroit, Dallas, Anaheim, San Jose; Ottawa, Carolina, Buffalo, New Jersey.

Detroit, Dallas, Calgary, San Jose; Ottawa, Carolina, Buffalo, New Jersey.

CBJ.com's Stanley Cup Coverage
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