Brodeur, Osgood, and Hasek are the only goalies in the playoffs who have won Cups. Other than that, only Giguere and Kiprusoff have even been to the finals. Osgood hasn’t been the #1 goalie in Detroit, and Hasek may not play the rest of the year…
(1) Ottawa versus (8) Tampa Bay
Ottawa in 4
Rumor has it that Hasek isn’t close to being ready yet. Whether he will make it back remains to be seen, but it won’t matter against the Lightning. They are a shadow of the team that won the Cup. Their three leading forwards have lost their drive, apparently weighed down by Cup rings.
(2) Carolina versus (7) Montreal
Carolina in 6
Carolina is a much more “for real” team this year than they were when they made their run to the finals. And I’ve watched Martin Gerber since he came into the league, and I have full respect for him, but he has yet to prove himself, and, until he does, he’s a question mark in my book. Other than that, they have just about all the pieces to take a serious run. Montreal doesn’t.
(3) New Jersey versus (6) New York
New Jersey in 5
The last time the Devils went into the playoffs even close to this hot (2000), they won the Cup. They aren’t going to be stopped by the Rangers this time. The Rangers have to be complemented for finally doing a few things to win instead of just look good, but the end of the season has shown that they haven’t completed that transition. They are too inexperienced in the playoffs to overcome this challenge.
(4) Buffalo versus (5) Philadelphia
Philadelphia in 6
Buffalo has run hot and cold this season. They have a wonderful stable of young players, experienced coaching, and good goaltending. But they lack the experience of the Flyers. That’s not the only difference. The Flyers are a well balanced, well constructed team. If they start Nittymaki, they have the chance to finally establish a winning goalie. I think the Flyers are underrated because they’ve been overrated. Don’t look past them.
That sets up a very interesting second round, does it not?