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Moller & Goldie's Eastern/Western Conference Semi-Final Picks

by Staff Writer / Florida Panthers

The "Gold Sheet"

It should be a super 2nd round of the playoffs out west where Anaheim plays Vancouver and the Sharks meet Detroit. All 4 have had great seasons and we are in store for long, exciting series. Of course, Moller did not pick ANY of these teams to advance so he will have to adjust his thinking!

Anaheim vs Vancouver

While the Ducks breezed past Minnesota in dominating fashion, the Canucks were tooth and nail to win a game 7 against Dallas. Vancouver led the series 3-1 before being shutout twice to force a decisive game. The Stars led Game 7 1-0 before the Canucks battled back and it's onto the 2nd round for Roberto Loungo. Anaheim has too much offense for the low scoring, defensive minded boys from the Pacific Northwest. The Ducks' power play is deadly and the defensive combo of Chris Pronger and Scott Miedermayer will be too much for Vancouver to overcome. Luongo will keep them in it but not enough scoring will be the downfall for the Canucks. Anaheim in 6

Detroit vs San Jose

I love both of these teams so this series is a real toss up for me. The Wings eliminated Calgary in a hard fought, sometimes dirty 6 game series. But can Dominik Hasek do it against a much better offensive team in the Sharks? San Jose shocked everyone with the ease of its 1st round win against tough Nashville. Joe Thornton is trying to prove he can win the big one and San Jose has drafted so well over the years that their defense is young and mobile while many of the forwards compliment their star players. Watch for the ancient Bill Guerin to come through in this series. The Sharks have knocked on the door the past few years...this time they come barging in! We will finally notice the absence of longtime Detroit veterans Steve Yzerman (retired) and Brendan Shanahan (with the Rangers). Sharks make it an all California West final with a thrilling 7 game victory.

Moller's Picks

The only thing I will agree with Goldie is, it will be an excellent Western Conference semi-final matchups.....

#1 Detroit Red Wings vs #5 San Jose Sharks

Sharks are coming off a 5 game series with the Predators, making it look easy. Red Wings paid the price in their 6 game physical series win over Calgary. Detroit will be punished in their matchup with San Jose. Any team that faces a line up that includes "Jumbo" Joe Thorton and Jonathan Cheechoo, better be prepared. Also, Patrick Marleau is leading the Sharks with 3 goals and 6 points coming in. I love San Jose's offense, but Detroit's blueline of Nick Lidstrom, Mathieu Schneider, and Chris Chelios will rise to the challenge. Dominik Hasek will be "all world" and make the difference in games 6 and 7. Detroit harpoons the Sharks in 7

#2 Anaheim Ducks vs Vancouver Canucks

The "so called" experts (Steve Goldstein) predict the Ducks to roll over the Canucks in this series because Vancouver will have nothing left in the tank after their roller coaster, draining 7 game (plus 6 additional periods of overtime) series win over Dallas. I've got news for you...Vancouver has just started hitting their stride, and the Sedin twins (Henrik and Daniel) will explode offensively and make Chris Pronger and Scott Niedermyer look mortal. Roberto Luongo will make the big saves. No need to worry about home ice advantage, this one's over in 6. Vancouver steps on a Duck. Vancouver wins in 6 games


Randy "Magic Touch" Moller's 2nd round picks

The Eastern Conference Semi-Finals will feature two matchups, promising to deliver exciting playoff hockey. And this time, Steve "Goldie" Goldstein's picks will not be true.....

#1 Buffalo vs #6 NY Rangers

Rangers netminder Henrik Lundqvist was a "star" in their 1st round win over Atlanta, but will be tested by the Sabres' high flying snipers Chris Drury, Maxim Afinogenov and Daniel Briere in this series. The Rangers may have the best 1-2 punch in Jaromir Jagr and Brendon Shanahan, but Buffalo's "D" men will keep New York frustrated offensively. Led by Brian Campbell, the Sabres blueliners scored four of the first six goals in their series win over the Islanders, and Campbell could be the best all around defensemen in the game today. Although "King" Lundqvist posted a 1.50 GAA in the 4 wins over the Thrashers in round one, Sabres star Ryan Miller will shine in this matchup. Sorry Goldie, Lindy Ruff's boys from Lake Erie will make all the Chicken Wing loving fans from the "Queen City" proud. Buffalo wins in 6 games.

#2 NJ Devils vs # 4 Ottawa Senators

Special teams could decide this series. Ottawa was successful in 25% of their opportunities in their 1st round win over Pittsburgh. Daniel Alfredsson is proving critics wrong so far, dominating the Penguins with 3 goals and 6 points in their series. With a healthy Dany Heatley and Jason Spezza, the Senators have all the offence they need. Devils will counter with "super sniper" Brian Gionta and surprise point leader Zach Parise, who notched 6 goals in 6 games vs. the Lightning in series one. Can the Devils' John Madden and Jay Pandolfo shut down Ottawa's offence like they did vs Tampa? I think not. Ray Emery will out-play future "Hall of Famer" Marty Broduer in this long series. Sorry again Mr. Goldstein, the boys from Soprano land get "whacked"....Ottawa wins in 7.

The Gold Sheet: Steve Goldstein's Picks

After picking 3 of the 4 series correctly in the 1st round, the "Gold Sheet" is back to determine the Eastern Conference finalists. Of course, you could always go with Moller's selections and instead of playing for the Stanley Cup you could hold a dixie cup high above your head! Two intriguing match-ups will make the 2nd round of the playoffs a treat.

Buffalo vs. Rangers

Between them, they only lost 1 game in the opening round (the Sabres dropped game 2 to the Islanders) so both come in confident and on a roll. Both teams boast star golaies in NY's Henrik Lundqvist and the Sabres' Ryan Miller. The Islanders though found some holes in Miller's game and put some goals on the board. Lundqvist, meanwhile, continued his great play from the end of the regular season and shut down the high powered Thrashers offense. The Sabres are the NHL's highest scoring team but the Rangers showed in their 1st round sweep they can shut down a good offense. Scorers like Jaromir Jagr and Michael Nylander have been outstanding but it has been New York's role players that are making major contributions. Sean Avery, Ryan Callahan, Marcel Hossa and Marik Malik are all coming through and the Rangers will pull off the upset. It will be a great series and we may see a high scoring game or two. In the end though, the confident, rested Rangers have the momentum and the better goaltending.

Rangers in 6

New Jersey vs. Ottawa

These 2 are no strangers to the playoffs and games with a lot on the line. The Senators were impressive in the 1st round blowing out Pittsburgh in 5 games. The Devils, meanwhile, took out Tampa as Martin Brodeur got better as the series went on. Jersey has finally found some offense in the form of emerging superstar Zach Parise. This guy is for real and while Tampa's brutal goaltending and defense helped the Devils, New Jersey now has confidence going against Ottawa. Expect at least 3 overtimes in this battle and it'll come down to the final game and the final minutes. Brodeur will rise to the occasion as he has so many times in the post-season. I'll go with the Devils as the Sens will be sent home early again. A rematch of the '94 conference finals is on tap...Rangers-Devils!

Jersey in 7
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