Now in his third season with opening round record of 4-4
I feel pretty good moving forward. Three Game 7 setbacks cost me a chance of duplicating last year's 7-1 opening round mark!
Oh well, onto Round Two!
Tampa Bay vs Montreal
How good is the Lightning? No points from Lecavalier, and no points from Stillman, and they were still able to oust the Islanders in 5. I do anticipate more difficulty for Khabibulin this time around but the Bolts scoring depth will prevail.
Tampa in 6
Toronto vs Philadelphia
A rematch yes, but with a whole host of new faces. The Leafs continue to prove ""where there's a will, there's a way"", but they'll need all that, and then some to answer a balanced Flyers team. If Kim Johnsson misses more than a couple of games for the Atlantic champions, its advantage Buds. Otherwise ...
Flyers in 6.
Detroit vs Calgary
What an effort by the Flames in round one. Depleted far more than people talk about, this club finally snapped the Cup curse. Too bad they've got the Wings on their agenda for Round Two. Detroit showed poise reminiscent of 97, 98, and 2002 in responding to losses in games 3 and 4 versus Nashville. And did you know that in each of those Cup years, the Wings also won their first round in 6 games? Book 'em for Round 3.
Detroit in 6.
San Jose vs Colorado
Third time lucky for San Jose? Losers to Colorado in 1999, and in a heartbreaking 7th game in the second round of 2002, these Sharks are in all likelihood a better ""team"" now than ever before. But I have to wonder about scoring depth given that McCauley and Thornton are banged up. Despite a sub .500 playoff record against the Avs, and an 0-2 regular season mark this year, Evgeni Nabokov is the better of the two netminders. Sadly for him, he must face Forsberg, Sakic, Hejduk etc., while the Swiss mister does not.
Avalanche in 6.