(1) Ottawa versus (4) Buffalo
On paper, these teams are quite similar. A lot of talented young forwards who can play with speed and skill, but also with grit. In net, we have two untested goalies seeing their first post-season action. In that category, I have to give the advantage to Buffalo. Ryan Miller seems like the real deal, where Ray Emery is a stopgap measure who was not significantly tested against Tampa Bay (who were overrated because of their Cup win 2 years ago with different players…). Ottawa has more experience in the post-season, and a much better defense. Coaching is more or less a wash. I’m surprising myself with this pick, because I’ve thought Ottawa was at least a final four team since the pre-season, but, without Hasek, I’m going with…
Buffalo in 7.
(2) Carolina versus (3) New Jersey
The Carolina spin is that the change to Cam Ward in net made the difference in the series. The reality is, the Hooks McCracken job on Saku Koivu was the turning point in the series. Take away *any* team’s number one center and things are going to be bad. Cam Ward was good, sure, but he’s no Martin Brodeur. None of Carolina’s big trade moves have done much but add dead weight. The Canes are just finding their game, but the Devils are perfecting theirs. Sorry, Carolina.
Devils in 5.
Assuming I’m right about this last series, the Devils have to be the favorite to win the Cup. People are still high on Ottawa, but they’re forgetting how much goaltending really matters in the postseason.
Round 1: DJS Rick Result
OTT/TB Ott5 Ott4 Ott5
Car/Mtl Mtl6 Car6 Car6
NJ/NY NJ5 NJ5 NJ4
Buf/Phi Buf6 Phi6 Buf6
Both of us are 3-1 in the East. both with a precision of +/- 4 games.