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The Great Playoff Debate 2009

by Staff Writer / Florida Panthers
Panthers broadcasters Steve Goldstein (FSN Florida) and Randy Moller (790 The Ticket) are back once again 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. Let the games begin, again.



Randy Moller
It's the year of the upsets, at least in the first round that is.

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Boston vs Montreal... Nevermind the Bruins finished 1st in the East, and took 5 of 6 meetings against the Habs this year…dig deep into this “Original Six” matchup, and you will see it could swing either way. The Bruins are big, deep and can score goals (2nd with 274 goals, 2nd in home power play), but if Timmy(Tool Time) Thomas gets outplayed by Montreal’s Carey Price, fans on Causway will have a tough time digesting their chowder. Canadian’s top line of Alex Tanquay, Saku Koivu, and a refreshed Alex Kovalev combined for 32 points in their last 10 games. Bruins will try to run Montreal out of the building, but If Boston continues the parade to the penalty box, the Flying Frenchmen will make them pay... Canadiens in 7

Washington vs New York Rangers... Capitals terrifying offence against Ranger’s all-star goaltender Henrik Lundqvist. Although “King Henrik” will outplay Caps Jose Theodore, Alex Ovechkin will average 8 shots a game, and defenseman Mike Green will have a field day blasting from the point on the NHL’s top power play. Can Scott Gomez resurrect his disappointing season in April? If so, he and Nik Antropov must be “all-world.”... Washington in 6

New Jersey vs Carolina... Hurricanes were the hottest team down the stretch, this side of St Louis, and Cam Ward was virtually unbeatable the last 18 games. Devils on the other hand, had a miserable March and April, but it is a clean slate now. Canes will rely on their main offensive “weapon”, which is to draw New Jersey into penalties, and score on the power play. If the Devils are disciplined, they could win the 5 on 5 play. Martin Brodeur will outplay Cam Ward in goal, and Zach Parise will be series MVP.... Devils in 6

Pittsburg vs Philidelphia... Each finished with 99 points, but home ice advantage could be a key. Another series(Mtl/Bos) where one team will try and intimidate the other. Flyers must play physical, and win each game on special teams. Penguins power play with Malkin, Crosby, and Gonchar manning the point, will be tough on Philly’s penalty kill, although they lead the NHL in short handed goals this year. Martin Biron will steal a game in the Steel City, and Penguin’s season will go down the (three) rivers.... Flyers in 7

WESTERN CONFERENCE

San Jose vs Anaheim... Ducks were 7-1-2 their last 10 games to just sneak in the post season, and nobody wants to play them in the 1st round. Sharks coasted most of the year and with Dan Boyle leading an overpowering power play, San Jose will try and win on special teams. Not so fast. If either JS Giguere or rookie Jonas Hiller (23 wins in 39 games) get hot, the veteran Sharkie’s could be “cutting bait” in a hurry. If Ducks stars outshine Jumbo Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau, this could be another California upset. Evgeni Nabakov has to be the MVP... Ducks in 7

Detroit vs Columbus... Upset of the century! If either Niklas Lindstrom or Brian Rafalski suffer an injury, or Chris Osgood is so-so, Blue Jacket’s genious coach Ken Hitchcock will have a game plan for this series. How good can Columbus Steve Mason (will win Rookie of the Year honors by a landslide) be? Do Columbus have enough depth up front to counter Detroit’s 3 top-line offense? Rick Nash could be the game’s best power forward, and will have to prove it in this low scoring affair. The car industry and the Lions will not be the only sad stories coming out of the “Motor City”... Jackets in 7

Vancouver vs St Louis... Cinderella dressed in the Blue Note? Could happen. Can Chris Mason carry a bunch of lunch pail workers on his back in a 7 game series? Don’t underestimate the hard working Brad Boyes (33 goals, 72 points) or David Backes (31 goals)…two of the best NHL forwards no one has ever heard of. If Luongo doesn’t have three shutouts in this series, Blues will harpoon the mighty “Orca”. The Sedin twins hold the key offensively in this showdown... Blues in 6

Chicago vs Calgary... Lots of pressure on the Calgary Keenan’s going into post season play. Every aspect of their game has been scrutinized, including their mascot, Ralph the Dog. Miikka Kiprusoff leads all goalies with 45 wins, but is 7-12 in post season play since 2004. The young Hawks team is much faster with the likes of Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and the underrated blueline combo of Duncan Keith and Brian Campbell, who combined for 96 points in the regular season. Blackhawks hold home ice advantage, and Mike Keenan pulls “Kipper” in the 1st 10min of this series, and gets outcoached by the methodical Joel Quennville. No “Sea of Red” in Alberta this year.... Hawks in 5

Steve Goldstein
EASTERN CONFERENCE

Boston vs Montreal... Montreal is lucky to even be in the playoffs. The Panthers would pose more of a threat to the Bruins than the Canadiens will. Can you tell I'm not quite over the Cats near miss of the postseason?? The B's are solid up front and will be able to score at will against Montreal's below average goaltending. The Bruins haven't come this far to lose in the first round... Boston In 5

Washington vs NY Rangers... My upset special because , as much as I love Alex Ovechkin and his passion for the game, the Capitals are struggling to keep the puck out of their net. Goaltending and defense is a problem in DC and Henrik Lundqvist is used to playing with the pressure of knowing if he allows a goal or 2 his team will lose. The Rangers penalty kill is the NHL's best because of their goalie... Rangers In 7

New Jersey vs Carolina... New Jersey peaked too early this season. Perhaps it was knowing the great Martin Brodeur wasn't in the line-up and everyone subconciously played better than they did now that he is back. But the big key here is Carolina's power play and the brilliance of Cam Ward in net. He has been great down the stretch and will out play Brodeur... Carolina in 6

Pittsburgh vs Philadelphia...Shocking I know, but the Penguins will steamroll the flyers. The Pens have the distinct advantage in goal and the Flyers struggled to score down the stretch. Philadelphia gives up lots of good scoring chances and Crosby, Malkin, Guerin, Kunitz and Staal will make them pay dearly. Pittsburgh has the Super Bowl champ and they may get another Stanley Cup too! Pittsburgh in 5

San Jose vs Anaheim...The Sharks have had too good of a season to slip up in the first round. The Ducks are playing well and still have big guns from their cup team so I give them a couple of wins. In the end, San Jose's home ice , strong goaltending and mission to succeed, finally, in the playoffs wil prove to tough for the Ducks. San Jose in 6

Detroit vs Columbus...The rare playoff series in which the team with the clear advantage in goal does not win. Steve Mason was the best goalie in the league this year. Pete DeBoer coached him in junior and had really high praise for him. DeBoer doesn't use his compliments loosly so that's good enough for me. But Detroit is too experienced and too loaded up front for the young Blue Jackets, although Mason will steal a few games. Detroit in 6

Vancouver vs Saint Louis... A longshot but I'm sticking with the hot hand. The Blues over the Canucks because St. Louis doesn't know any better! This young team is peaking at the right time and their home games will be wild. St. Louis is a great hockey town but we haven't noticed recently because the team hasn't been good enough...until now. Reborn vets like Keith Tkachuck and Andy Mcdonald will come through and Vancouver will feel the playoff pressure from a town getting impatient... Saint Louis in 6

Chicago vs Calgary... Hardest series for me to call. It really could go either way. I will take the Hawks in the 7th game. Hockey is a young man's game and my guess is Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane will grow up quickly. Then again, as I say every year, I could be wrong! Hopefully, I will be right more than Moller. That's all that counts here. Chicago in 7

I want to personally thank all of you fans for your support this season. I have the greatest job in the world and wouldn't be here without the great panther fans that we have. Hopefully next year we will all be watching playoff hockey in south florida!

Goldie
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