(8) Tampa Bay
The Lightening has had trouble all year with Ottawa and if you believe that it all had to do with the Dominator you would be wrong. Strongest team in the east and with the new rules (if the officials stick to them!) they will be in the Conference Finals.
Key Player: Danny Heatly will turn on the heat! No upset here.
Sens in 5
Montreal’s coach Bob Gainey has hoisted a few Cups in his day but he cannot play the game from behind the bench. However, the ghost’s of Montreal’s past will cast a shadow over Carolina and make the Canes work for every inch. Cristobal Huet will win a few games on his own and force a long series.
Key Player: Rod Brind’Amour
Canes in 6.
(6) NY Rangers
If I was not married and a father of three, I would get on a plane and spend two weeks driving back and forth through the Lincoln Tunnel to watch this series! Up and down action from the first drop of the puck to the last goal crossing the line. I am praying that this series goes to 7 games. I also hope that J. Jagr is on the ice when the winning goal is scored in OT by Brian Gionta!
Key Player: Jamie Langenbrunner
Devils in 7
The Sabres goaltending will be the difference in this series. Ryan Miller is my goalie pick from the east to stand on his melon this playoff year. The Sabres are probably the deepest offensive team in the league (nine players either close to or over 20 goals). Fourth in the league in goals for behind Detroit/Ottawa/Carolina.
Key Player: Jean-Pierre Dumont
Can the Wings step it up a notch and wake up from the Catatonic Central Division? The Oilers are playing their Stanley Cup final in round one and will not back down. My wife Karin will not like this prediction but this is my first round upset. Dwayne Roloson stands on his melon and the Oil beat up on the Wings.
Key Player: Ryan Smyth
Oilers in 6
Dallas is bigger, faster, and tougher as a team. They are great defensively all the way around. The Av’s will be in every game and all of the games will be close but they will only end up with one win at the series end.
Key Player: Brenden Morrow
Dallas in 5. (only series that will go 5 games)
Another upset here. The Ducks are going to find a way to beat Kiprusoff and some of their young players are going to rise up to the task. Anaheim steals the first game in Calgary and win all three at home.
Key Player: J. Gigure
Anaheim in 6.
(5) San Jose
Sharks are on a roll as a team. The addition of Ville Neiminen has helped the Sharks depth and defensive play. Tough series back and forth but the Sharks pull it off in Nashville the final game of the series.
Key Player: Patrick Marleau
Sharks in 7