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Assistant Coach Pierre Groulx Breaks Down Round One of the 2007 Stanley Cup Playoffs

by Staff Writer / Florida Panthers
Florida Panthers assistant coach Pierre Groulx provides us with his playoff analysis and predictions.

At, we want to know what you think of Pierre’s picks. Email us at with questions for Pierre or to provide us with your predictions as to who will win these first round series.

We will post fans' picks for each round under Pierre’s picks to see just how well Florida Panthers fans match up.

Western Conference Quarterfinals

1 Detroit vs. 8 Calgary
Detroit is a complete team and they will face up against Calgary’s gritty team. The key will be if Calgary’s goalie Miikka Kiprusoff can go back to the way he played in 2004 when he led Calgary to the Finals. His opposing goalie will be the aging Detroit goalie Dominik Hasek and Detroit will find out if he can carry his team one more time. Calgary is hoping Kiruspff can steal a series for them. Detroit is hoping Todd Bertuzzi can come back from back surgery and perform.
Players to watch:
Detroit – Todd Bertuzzi
Calgary – Miikka Kiprusoff
Prediction: Detroit in 5

2 Anaheim vs. 7 Minnesota
This match-up is the high powered offense of Anaheim against the much controlled defensive system of Minnesota. Anaheim has a powerful offense of Teemu Selanne, Scott Niedermayer, Chris Pronger and Chris Kunitz against a well rounded team lead by Brian Rolston, Pavel Demitra and Marian Gaborik. Can Minnesota’s goaltending handle the Ducks offense?
Players to watch:
Anaheim – Chris Pronger and Scott Niedermayer
Minnesota – Goaltending of both Niklas Backstrom and Manny Fernandez
Prediction: Anaheim in 6

3 Vancouver vs. 6 Dallas
This is going to be a defensive series because both teams did not score a lot of goals over the year. The highest scorer for Dallas was Mike Ribeiro with only 59 points and for Vancouver their high scorer was Daniel Sedin with 84 points. Both depend on their goalies tremendously. Roberto Luongo against Marty Turco will be the key match-up to see if Luongo can translate regular season success to the playoffs and for Turco to see if he can finally have playoff success.
Players to watch:
Vancouver – Roberto Luongo
Dallas – Marty Turco
Predeiction: Dallas in 7

4 Nashville vs. 5 San Jose
This is an intriguing series because Nashville added Peter Forsberg to go along with Paul Kariya and J.P. Dumont against San Jose who bulked up at the trade deadline by getting Bill Guerin adding to Jonathan Cheechoo, Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau. San Jose has one of the best goaltending combinations as well in Vesa Toskala and Evgeni Nabokov.
Players to watch:
Nashville – Peter Forsberg
San Jose – Joe Thornton
Prediction: San Jose in 5

Eastern Conference Quarterfinals

1 Buffalo vs. 8 NY Islanders
Buffalo is looking for redemption from last year’s tough Conference Finals loss to Carolina. Withstanding injuries they could’ve made it last year. The Islanders need to prove that it isn’t a fluke they got in via a shootout win on the last day of the regular season. It’s Buffalo’s offense against the veteran leadership of the Islanders. Also, will Rick DiPietro be healthy enough to make an impact for the Islanders?
Players to watch:
Buffalo – Ryan Miller
NY Islanders – Ryan Smith
Prediction: Buffalo in 5

2 New Jersey vs. 7 Tampa Bay
The big question is can Johan Holmqvist outplay Martin Brodeur? The big four of Tampa Bay (Boyle, Lecavalier, St. Louis and Richards), we all know what they can do down here in Florida. They face the big four of New Jersey (Elias, Madden, Gionta, Gomez). The key for the Devils is to see how well John Madden can shut down Lecavalier and St. Louis. New Jersey will look to exploit Tampa’s goaltending.
Players to watch:
New Jersey – John Madden
Tampa Bay – Johan Holmqvist
Prediction: New Jersey in 6

3 Atlanta vs. 6 NY Rangers
This is the most intriguing series of the first round because of how powerful both of these offenses are. The Rangers have Jaromir Jagr, Michael Nylander, Martin Straka. Atlanta has Marian Hossa, Ilya Kovalchuk, and Keith Tkachuk. The Rangers will rely heavily on Jagr while the Thrashers need to see their big deal for Tkachuk pay off.
Players to watch:
Atlanta – Keith Tkachuk
NY Rangers – Jaromir Jagr
Prediction: NY Rangers in 7

4 Ottawa vs. 5 Pittsburgh
This will probably be the best series of the first round because we all know what Sidney Crosby brings to the Penguins. But you can’t forget his supporting cast of Evgeni Malkin, Mark Recchi and Gary Roberts. This year is a chance for Ottawa to redeem themselves from their disappointment against Buffalo last year. Ottawa needs to stay out of the box. They Senators are much better 5 on 5 and the Pens power play is lethal with the players just mentioned. If Marc Andre-Fluery plays well, the Penguins can go a long way. For Ottawa, Ray Emery needs to repeat last year’s success. Gary Roberts also needs to bring the “pain” that he did when he was in Toronto.
Players to watch:
Ottawa – Daniel Alfredsson and Ray Emery
Pittsburgh – Marc Andre-Fluery
Prediction: Pittsburgh in 7
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