Hockeyleaks Playoff Preview 06' Playoff Preview

By Corey Johnson

Eastern Conference

[1] Ottawa vs. [8] Tampa Bay

Ottawa once again comes heads into the playoffs as the favourite to win the Eastern Conference. In previous years, Ottawa’s weak goaltending (aka Patrick Lalime) has been blamed for earlier than expected playoff exits. This year, Ottawa brought in Dominik Hasek to transform their goaltending from a question, to unquestionable. That beings said, injuries are a part of the game, and the Sens will enter the playoffs, and possibly exit them, without the Dominator. A groin injury (that many of us predicted would happen at some point this year) will keep Dom on the sidelines for at least the start of the first round, and possibly longer. That being said, Ottawa’s offense should make up for Hasek’s absence. Heatley, Havlat, Alfredsson, and Spezza are all among the NHL’s best offensive players, while Redden and Chara have been known to add a touch of offense to the Senator lineup.

Tampa Bay enters these playoffs as defending cup champs, and if they are going to repeat, it will likely take a miracle. Tampa just squeezed into the playoffs, and though they have great offensive talents up front, their defense has been in question over the last few months of the season, and they may have the most questionable goaltending out of the 16 playoff teams. Grahame and Burke have done little to replace Khabibulin in Tampa, and if they cannot give Tampa an outstanding performance between the pipers, the Bolts don’t stand a chance

Prediction : Tampa Bay will put up a fight, but Ottawa is just too strong. Ottawa in 6.

[2] Carolina vs. [7] Montreal

The Hurricanes enter the playoffs as a team facing a lot of questions. Can Martin Gerber continue to put up great numbers under the pressure of the playoffs? Can Eric Staal continue his rapid scoring pace? Can Carolina’s defense play well enough for Carolina to compete with the best in the league? Carolina fans are hoping that all of those answers are yes. Carolina was busy this year, bringing in Doug Weight and Marck Recchi mid-season, but they took a large hit with Erik Cole being knocked out for the remainder of the year. The Hurricanes have a great team, and have as much potential as any of the 16 NHL playoff teams.

The Canadiens have been as streaky a team as the NHL has had this year. They’ve played a total of three starting goalies between their pipes, and all have had hot and cold streaks. Koivu and Kovalev must be on top of their games if Montreal wants to advance, while the goaltending pair of Aebisher and Huet must continue to put up solid numbers. The Habs will start with Huet in net, but if he shows any signs of weakness, the Habs will quickly move to their backup, who is the only one of them who has playoff experience.

Prediction : Both teams have a lot of questions, but Carolina should take this series. Carolina in 7.

[3] New Jersey vs. [6] New York Rangers

The Devils were close to missing the playoffs three weeks ago, however, ten straight wins and they’ve moved up to third, with home ice for the first round. The Devils have been riding the hot play of Brian Gionta, and the very solid goaltending of Martin Brodeur. Gomez and Elias are both UFA’s at season’s end, which makes me think they will be showing off their skills to their full extent during this playoff run. The Devils are hot at the perfect time.

Nobody expected the Rangers to be in this position. Ranger fans can thank the amazing play of Lundqvist and Jagr for this great season. If both players can stay hot during the playoffs, then the Rangers have as good a chance as any to knock off the Devils. Others will have to step up, and solid defense is a must for this Rangers’ squad.

Predictions : The Rangers are a good team, but the Devils are just too hot right now. Devils in 6.

[4] Buffalo vs. [5] Philadelphia

The Sabres, a team who nobody saw doing much this year, dominated this year and got themselves home ice advantage in the first round. The goaltending pair of Biron and Miller has been excellent, while every offensive player for the Sabres has put up very solid numbers. During the offseason, Buffalo lost Satan and Zhitnik, and did very little to replacement. Addition by subtraction can be the Sabres motto for this season.

Peter Forsberg is one of the best players in the league, and as long as he’s healthy, the Flyers have to be considered a serious threat. The Flyers decided not to go with their star rookie goalie, and instead will start Esche. This is a risky move, but it will also decide Esche’s fate in Philly. Rookies like Umberger, Carter and Richards will have to continue to play great for the Flyers, and Forsberg will have to stay healthy. The Flyers also play a very physical game, which will make this series very entertaining.

Prediction : The Flyers will built for the playoffs, but the Sabres will put up a fight. Flyers in 7.

Western Conference

[1] Detroit vs. [8] Edmonton

Surprise! The Red Wings once again sit on top of the West. Manny Legace proved he is a solid #1 goalie, which Osgood did a very good job backing him up. Curtis Joseph and Dominik Hasek who? There isn’t much bad to say about Detroit, as they’re very deep, and are above the rest of the teams in the West.

A bigger surprise is that Edmonton is only in 8th place. Since the Oilers last played, they’ve added Roloson, Samsonov, Pronger, Tarnstrom, Peca, and Spacek, without really loosing anyone of importance. That being said, goaltending has been a problem all season for the Oilers, and Roloson has done little to improve that. The Oilers just managed to beat out the Canucks for the last playoff spot, and will be in tough against the power house Red Wings.

Prediction : The Wings are too strong. Detroit in 5.

[2] Dallas vs. [7] Colorado

Dallas has had an amazing season, thanks to a full team effort. Their young stars have been terrific, while their veterans are playing like 25 year olds. Turco has been outstanding, and when called upon, Hedberg has played very well. Dallas is a very complete team, and is right up there with Detroit. I wouldn’t want to face Dallas this post season.

Colorado lost Adam Foote and Peter Forsberg last offseason, which explains why they have not been the same team since. They made a giant splash at the deadline, acquiring Theodore from Montreal. Getting Roy from Montreal helped a few years ago, and it will be interesting to see how far Theo can take these Avalanche. Any team with guys like Tanguay, Sakic, Blake, Liles and Hejduk cannot be counted out.

Prediction : Best series of the opening round. Dallas in 7.

[3] Calgary vs. [6] Anaheim

The Flames went all the way to cup finals last time hockey was played, and this team has only gotten better. Adding Amonte up front was a smart move, and then there is some rookie defenseman, I think his name is Phaneuf? The additions of Hamrlik and Lundmark (who would have guessed?) have also proved to be excellent moves. If Kipper can play some solid goal, the Flames may have what it takes to go back to the cup final.

The Ducks were out of it, until they started getting rid of their veteran stars. Gone are Federov and Ozolinsh, but that didn’t seem to matter. The Ducks battled all the way up to 6th in the West, and are playing very good hockey. This team will go as far as their rookies, and J.S. Giguere will take them. Another cup final? You never know.

Prediction : This will be another great series. Calgary in 7.

[4] Nashville vs. [5] San Jose

Two weeks ago, Nashville looked like they were going to go into the playoffs as one of the cup favourites. Thanks to a blood clot, the Preds have lost their starting goalie, their MVP, and are no longer looking so strong. Chris Mason will step in, and will hope to guide the Preds deep into the playoffs. Kariya and Sullivan will hope to follow up great offensive seasons, while deadline addition Brenden Witt will look to show that he was worth the 1st round pick the Preds gave up for them. Mason is a good goalie, but he’s no Vokoun. That being said, Nashville is still very dangerous.

After starting the season horribly, the Sharks made a trade that will forever change their franchise. They gave up Sturm, Stuart and Primeau, and in return got one of the NHL’s best players in Joe Thornton. The big centre took charge and improved everyone around him. The Sharks are on a tremendous run, and will be very dangerous. Nabokov and Toskala may be the best 1-2 goaltending tandem in the league, and the Sharks offense is very dangerous with the likes of Thornton, Marleau and Cheechu up front. The Sharks will be fun to watch.

Predictions : Mason is no Vokoun. Sharks in 6.

23 Responses to Hockeyleaks Playoff Preview 06'

  1. muckies says:

    Good thing abou the Ottawa win was that Emery was their best player, and put in an amzing goaltending performance last night. If he can stay hot like that, he’ll win the MVP. If not him, Spezza. Spezza is a big game player.

    Alfie didn’t have a good game last night on the puck, Tampa’s doing a good job keeping him out of the play. But on Ottawa’s first goal, Alfie had his best shift of the game, and kept the pressure on the power play. Good thing he scored an empty netter, he looked pretty sheepish after. Other guys gotta carry the load as Alfie will be a target.

    Paul Ranger for Tampa is a good player, but Sydor was invisible. Tampa only scored on their 5-3, if Ottawa can keep Lecavalier shut down, they’ll coast to the series win.

    Is there a better player in the NHL at selling a penalty then Maty St. Luois? If he didn’t have an MVP beside his name, he wouldn’t have gotten any calls last night. Tampa quit on their goalie last night. After Spezza scored, I think tampa realized they won’t win the series. Play that hard and that well in a game like that, and your goalie lets in a weak goal like Grahame did. All the pressure is off Otttawa now and on Tampa. Tampa knows all the skaters can play amzing games, but in the end their goalie will let them down. Grahame was good for 50 minutes, but not for 60. Sort of reminds me of an old goalie that used to play in Ottawa!!!!!

    The Calgary game was great. I don’t know the last time i saw Iginla skate down the ice and let one of his shots go from the boards for a goal like he used to, if he doesn’t start scoring goals off the rush, Calgary will lose. He’s getting warmed up though.

    The Ducks are scrapy and I liked their play. They showed great patience for a team that was down a goal. Good for them , they showed Calgary they weren’t scared, and if teams don’t play tight against Calgary and worried about scoring, it takes a huge part of the Flames edge away. I’m not so sure teams will be as scared of Calgary now, the Ducks have shown the league the Flames are vulnerabel.

    If the Oil won that game last night, it would have been huge. Detroit now has lots of pressure on them now, Edmonton isn’t scrared, but they gotta get more shots on net, or it’ll be over soon, even though the games will be close.

    If they can win game #2, and come home, it’ll be a different series. Legace looks like Joseph did a few years ago. Great in net, but having to make every save to keep your team in it, is just to hard.

    Go Oil , Legace’s an arse, and I hope he lets his team down when they need him the most.

  2. thatleafsguy says:

    coast my ass the lightning were running ottawa until FINALLY the sens got hot on the pp, this is going to be a long series buddy boy.

  3. thatleafsguy says:

    I think we’ve had enough of playoff preview articles, on to new business. Variety, PLEASE!!!

  4. captainjoefish says:

    i can’t post right now my dog just phaneufed on the rug!

  5. captainjoefish says:

    i think we should have a post about all the different ways you can use phaneuf in your everyday speech

    now that is intresing

    i just phaneufed

  6. muckies says:

    O.K. Girl.

    You’ve been so right about everything else, I don’t know how you could be wrong about this.

    If it isn’t a long series, like more then 5 games, how about you come back and quote me some more of your killer Jay-Z lyrics.

  7. thatleafsguy says:

    you must be jealous of jay z back in the day he was hot don’t hate the player hate the game buddy boy.

  8. Tweek says:

    uhh its only one game and spezza didnt play as well as his numbers suggest, he made a few turnovers including that dumb behind the back to nobody which resulted in vinny smoking the crossbar on a two on one. razor did play very well and that is a great sign for ottawa, they need to shoot high on greame every shot they take because he lets up everything top shelf. if ottawa plays every period like they did the third then they will be tough to beat, they just need to get alffy and heatley going in game 2.

  9. gg_idiot says:

    was it a MONSTER!!!!!!?

  10. dcz28 says:

    Legace’s an arse? Legace is nothing but class! He never once complained about anything with the Wings even when he had Hasek and Cujo in front of him on the depth charts or when Cujo replaced him in the Nashville series. The guy is just happy to be playing in the NHL no matter what his role is and doesn’t have an ego problem…he’s all about the team.

    One thing you seem to forget is that the Wings set a record for most wins on the road this season and will be very tough to beat on the road. If Legace fails they only have to put Osgood in who is a proven winner with 2 cup rings and has played very well this season finishing the season looking like he did in 98.

  11. muckies says:

    Grahame’s glove is good. The Sens were tryng to go low on Grahame early in the game, because he gives up such juicy rebounds, but Tampa is so good at blocking shots, the Sens strated to go high to get pucks thru.

    i think tampa knows that in front of the net, with the rebounds grahame gives up low, they can’t handle the size of the Sens, the top line with Spezza and Heatley especially, and if they start battling in front of the net with Ottawa, they’ll just start taking penalties and it’ll be game over. They protect the low part of the net well, and Grahame can handel the high stuff, glove side anyways.

    Spezza did have some turnovers, but he does that alot, and he is the passer on the team so turn overs can be expected, but when he gets them through like he did to Havlat a few times, they are pucks that are usualy buried. Spezza won’t change his game, so we jsut have to live with it.

    Tampa got into the zone well, and they got the puck inot the slot well. We’ll have to watch that. I think they know Emery’s weakness is moving acroos the net quickly, and if they start moving the puck from side to side, he gets out of position and there are lots of holes. Squared up, he’ll probably make the save, they’ll try to get him sliding across more. i say tampa takes less shots next game trying to get better puck movement, but have better scoring chances.

    But now that Ottawa has scored and know they can get through on Grahame, and he he’ll let in an easy goal here and there, they have the taste for blood, and it’ll be tough to stop them. Nothing deflates a team like that second goal.

    I’m sure we’ll see Burke this playoffs, Ottawa is going to destroy Tampa next game.

    If Grahame starts the next game, he won’t finish it, thats my guess.

  12. muckies says:

    Hey, Legace’s an Ottawa boy so I don’t want to give the valley a bad name, but during the hasek-Joseph thing, he was a complete ass, he threw some logs on that fire for sure.

    I just think with Peca in and shadowing the top line, Datsuk out, Samsonov playing well, and the way the Oil played in game 1, they feel they can win the series. Doesn’t mean they will.

    But I’d say Legace is better then Osgoode, putting Osgoode in the series would be a mistake. i say live and die with Legace.

  13. dcz28 says:

    I read the Detroit News and Free Press every day for the longest time and NEVER read any negative comments from Legace…the only negative comments i’ve ever read from him was about his own game saying he played like crap in some losses.

    He was put in an akward position when Hasek decided to come back having a hard time to get in the nets in practice and having to sit in between Hasek and Cujo in the locker room and i think he handled it like a pro unlike others in that position (Nurminen for example this year who complained in the media and wanted someone to be traded).

    Datsyuk will likely be back for game 2 on Sunday and Peca can’t shadow 3 lines since Datsyuk plays with Shanahan and Zetterberg with the Swede line with 3 20+ goal scorers on it(Holmstrom and Samuelsson) then add the Lang, Yzerman and Williams line that was one of the best lines down the stretch with Yzerman going on a 11 game point streak and played great in game 1 with Yzerman looking like he was 30 years old again…so who do you put Peca against?

    There is a reason why the Oilers are playing the trap and it’s because the Wings have 3 solid lines that can score and can’t be shut down unless you have 3 defensive lines to throw at them (which the Oilers don’t)…when was the last time that you have seen the Oilers play the trap? I don’t remember ever seeing them play like that as they usually play a hard forecheck game.

    An upset is always possible for any team but like i said before i’ll believe it when i see it (Oilers taking out Wings).

    I agree this season Legace was better than Osgood but if Legace has 2 bad games in a row Osgood should get his chance since he has done it before…if you think Osgood wasn’t that good when he won in 98 just look at the games he played that year in the playoffs and you will see he was pretty damn good (he let in some soft goals that year but came back the next game with a shutout and was great).

    I’m glad Legace is getting his chance as he deserves it and i hope he continues to play great so that Yzerman can end his great career lifting the cup after beating the Sens in a great series (i hope this is the year the Wings and Sens meet in the finals anyways).

  14. muckies says:

    If Stevie Y comes home for a cup finals, It’ll be to see the Cup lifted in his hometown by the other Captain, who says Yzerman is his hero.

    That’s to much of a story book ending, Stevie Y to Ottawa for a final tour around the ice with the Cup. Not gonna happen. If they face Ottawa in the final, the next time Stevie Y gets his hands on a Cup will be as the GM in Detroit.

    But I do want to see the Sens play Detroit in the final. Not only the 2 best teams, but Youth vs. Experience, dynasty vs. a wanna be dynasty, old Detroit coach in Ottawa, the Stevie Y, Draper and Legace connection to Ottawa.

    Lots of stories for the reporters. And waesome hockey.

  15. EasternHockey says:

    I think it’s quite enough that Ron and Don can’t stop *****ing talking about the Leafs during the intermissions of a Habs game. I’m perfectly content with the playoff articles.

  16. muckies says:

    Could it really get any better. All playoff hockey and no Leafs $hit to put with.

  17. EasternHockey says:

    Wrong, we have to deal with this Tie Domi crap.

  18. dcz28 says:

    I agree with everything you said but Stevie Y not holding the cup against Ottawa in the finals lol…i hope this is the year they meet in the finals since i’ve been robbed of not seeing the Wings in Ottawa this season…the NHL needs to stop the 8 games against teams from their division and go back to the way it was before because seeing the Wings in Ottawa once every 6 years or so pisses me off.

  19. EasternHockey says:

    Quit being an idiot, don’t quote Nietzsche, and stop saying “buddy boy”. What are you, 12?

  20. muckies says:

    For sure. You gotta play at least everyteam 1 a season, especially if its an 82 games chedual.

    At least Ottawa plays in a good division with Montreal, Toronto, Buffalo.

    The Wings division sucks, no offense ot the team, but how many times can you watch Columbus lose before turing off the T.V.

  21. 24_cups_and_counting says:

    Here’s one for u, “The Flames just got PHANEUFED by the Anaheim Mighty Ducks”.

  22. 19AVSFANFoLIFE19 says:

    i looked up jobs today for class on i think it was and their was a job opening to be a monster my buddy showed it to me were both like, yep pierre mcquire.

  23. 19AVSFANFoLIFE19 says:

    finally an honest opinion about the colorado dallas series. everyone said 5 or 6 games for dallas. if dallas wins it will be 7 games guarnteed.

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