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Great Playoff Debate: Conference Finals

by Staff Writer / Florida Panthers
Panthers broadcasters Steve Goldstein (FSN Florida) and Randy Moller (790 The Ticket) are back for their third go around to break down the Playoffs series all the way until the Stanley Cup. The two will each pick a winner for each series and why they think that team will win. There will of course be some jawing, but all in good fun.

Steve Goldstein - Well, don't listen to me anymore!!!

I went 0 for 4 in the 2nd round. I'm very disappointed in myself! Hopefully I can make up for it in the Conference finals.

Randy Moller - After going 3-1 with my picks the last round of these 2010 playoffs, my confidence is riding high! I got this next round all figured out.

Let's get on to the picks.

Michael Cammalleri and Danny Briere
Eastern Conference
(#7) Philadelphia vs (#8) Montreal

Moller - Star goaltending? Who needs the big names…Flyers Michael Leighton has been the “savior”  this spring. And the Hab’s Jaroslav Halak has taken Montreal farther than anyone expected.

Great matchup up front. Philly’s trio of Simon Gagne, Daniel (don’t call me Danny) Briere and Mike Richards carry the offense for Philidelphia, and should have the edge over Montreal’s “Big 3” in Mike Cammalleri, Brian Gionta and Scott Gomez.

Chris Pronger will be the key in this series. Tough and smart, I don’t think the Canadians have enough power forwards to counter the former Norris and Cup champ. The City of Brotherly Shove will advance to the Finals in 6 games.

Goldstein - The Flyers will end Montreal's Cinderella run. Habs neminder Jarolslav Halak will be seeing a lot of shots this series. Philly has high end offensive talent and it is deeper than Pittsburgh and maybe Washington as well.

That's right I said it! The key is the emergance of young stars Claude Giroux and James van Riemsdyk. Add those two to Mike Richards, a re-energized Simon Gagne, the possible return of Jeff Carter, Scott Hartnell and more, and it adds up to the Flyers getting by Montreal in 6 games.

Western Conference
Patrick Kane and Patrick Marleau
(#1) San Jose vs (#2) Chicago

Goldstein - The Blackhawks have advantages, albeit small ones, up and down the rosters. Antii Niemii is red hot in goal and the Sharks top guns of Joe Thornton, Dany Heatley and Patrick Marleau haven't matched their regular season success in the playoffs for the most part.

The best kept secret in hockey is Hawks captain Jonathan Toews. He was a star for Canada at the Olympics and with the exception of Sidney Crosby, I'd take him if I was starting a team. Patrick Kane is electrifying as well and Chicago's defense is deep and talented. The Blackhawks and Sharks, the two best teams left in the playoffs are on course for a great series...Chicago in 7.

Moller - The two top teams in the Western Conference meet in a classic! Both have enough offense, and goaltending is not a problem. The Blackhawk’s line of Toews, Kane and Dustin Byfuglien may be the best line in hockey right now, and will need to outplay the Shark’s trio of “Jumbo" Joe Thornton, Dany (don’t call me Daniel) Heatley, and Patrick Marleau.

San Jose has another weapon in this series…Joe Pavelski. Special teams will be the difference. Can D-men Dan Boyle and Rob Blake play both penalty killing and power play, thus log an average of 30 plus minutes per game each? Hawks Norris Trophy candidate Duncan Keith will play a big roll in the success for Chicago.

The key to this series? Marion Hossa. If he is all world, Chicago wins it in 6.
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