NHL Playoffs Central, Brought to You by HTR.com

Yes, we’re all excited about this year’s playoffs. We’re getting a
of playoff articles that have predictions in them. We can’t post all
them, though, so welcome to Playoffs Hockey Central. All your
predictions and opinions are welcomed here, so post them!

Playoffs hockey talk and my point of view on each series. More in depth on the Hudson Series.

Some Canucks and Leafs hockey talk.

HTR can confirm that HE WILL BE BACK, find out who.
I know this is my column presenting Playoffs Central, but we also need
an updated button. Please, post mature comments and no bashing
I want to know your opinions and your predictions, but I don’t want
immature bashing involved in my column.

But, welcome to playoffs hockey, folks! I wish we had our own on-air
radio time to talk and discuss hockey, and get you guys to call in.
Hey, could be a future plan.

So, where do I begin? The Western Conference finished before the
so I’ll begin with that.

Red Wings vs. Oilers

It comes down to Legace vs. Roloson. Hmmm, yeah I’ll pick Legace! The
Red Wings are the best team in the league and it’s mainly due to
key players; they make it happen. The Oilers also have experienced
players, but they just lack that ability to take full control of a
game. I’ve been rooting for this team throughout the whole season and
even called them this year’s Calgary Flames if they get a good
Not to discredit Roloson, he’s been a good goalie, but not the kind
get your team to the Stanley Cup Finals. The Oilers are a fast team,
great skaters….they have to use their speed against an older Wings
roster. I think the Oilers will give the Wings a tough time, but will
fall short due to the Red Wings being a superior team. My bets state
4-2 series win by the Wings, but the Wings have been known to
screw things up in the first round of the playoffs, as they’ve done
before. So, a surprise upset is quite possible.

Stars vs. Avalache

Probably my favorite playoff series of the West. The Dallas Stars have
all the ingredients to win the Stanley Cup. I used to think they were
overrated, but I’ve thought otherwise since the Olympics. Goaltending?
Check. Defense? Check. Offense? Check. Leadership? Check. Experience?
Check. Coaching? Check. The Stars have a great shot to winning the
Stanley Cup and I am leaning towards them being the winners this year.
But, they face a tough competitor in the first round. The Avalanche are
definitely not as good as the Stars, but they have the talent and I’d
have to say that this team definitely looks different with Theodore in
net. The Avalanche are not an easy team to eliminate in the first round
of the playoffs, so…. I think it will be a 4-2 series win by the
, yet the possibility of a Game 7 is reasonably high.

Mighty Ducks vs. Flames

Okay, here is my wild pick. I love this Ducks team and I have high
expectations in the future. That’s why I say the Ducks will disappoint
Calgary and win in seven games. The Ducks have flair,
goaltending is legit, defense is reliable, and scoring is a strength.
The Flames are the best defensive team in my opinion. Kipper is a great
goalie. I called Phaneuf as the team’s number one defenseman very early
into the season, and he’s exactly that. The offense has been upsetting me
and I think that’s going to cost them in the end. Anaheim can defend
Calgary’s offense well enough, and use their offense to their
advantage. The Flames can stop the Ducks offense very well, but fall
short on scoring, and at some point, the Ducks will find a way to score
goals. Ducks in seven games.

Sharks vs. Predators

I feel bad for the Preds. All this way to enter the playoffs without
their goalie, Tomas Vokoun. The Predators are a good team, but they
need their key players to win games for them. Paul Kariya and Steve
Sullivan have to step up and play BIG. If not, the Sharks will make
them the Nashville Prey. Sharks come in hot, with the top scoring
leader and the top goal scorer of the year. Defense is solid and the
other lines play smart hockey at both ends of the ice. Watching the
Sharks play should make everyone believe they could beat any team in
the NHL, and who knows, maybe they’ll make it to the Finals. Toskala
has been a solid goalie, and Nabokov is quite questionable, but it
can’t be a negative to have Nabokov as your back-up either. Sharks
are too powerful right now, and I’d see a 4-0 sweep win.

So……………….. don’t ask, but that was fun, sort of,……but I highly recommend after a few beers you read that. Hmm, maybe I should have told you so before you read it. Anyway…..

In the East, we got a great battle going with high competition and no
one really outmatches the other, except for…

Senators vs. Lightning

The Lightning were lucky to make the playoffs. Somehow, the Thrashers
wasted such a big playoff push by losing to the lowly Capitals. With
that, the Bolts made the playoffs. Goaltending is weak. The defense is
mediocre. The offense is everything far from reliable. If the Lightning
manage to eliminate the Senators, or push a Game 7, then the Senators
will be a HUGE disappointment. Yes, the Ottawa Senators miss Dominik
Hasek, but Ron Emery has not been bad. An offensive powerhouse with
great defensemen, it should be a piece of cake for the Senators. Make it
a sweep Sens! But, most likely I can see the Bolts get a win and
lose 4-1 in the series.

Hurricanes vs. Canadiens

The Hurricanes have been a huge surprise this season, but they haven’t really convinced me ever since the Doug Weight trade. Plus, the addition of Recchi has not met my execrations. I think the Montreal Canadiens have been built as a playoff team. This is a series of character vs. character. Both teams have character and I may be biased here, but I follow one of my favorite leaders in the game, Saku Koivu. Goaltending? I’d feel comfortable with Aerbischer and Huet. Defense? It’s solid and Souray and Rivet have character. Offense? Well…I wish there was more offense and that’s where the Canes should take advantage. It is now up to Alex Kovalev to really step up his game in the playoffs and become an unstoppable force. He has the support from Ryder, but Troll is the key. The Canes have a top youngster in the league named Eric Staal. They have the best faceoff man in the league, Rod Brind’Amour. Stillman, Whitney, Recchi, Weight…., they have it all! But, can they put it all together? This is a new Canes team that made the playoffs. The Canadiens have the same core and already made the playoffs before. In the end, this may be an even match. I say the Canadiens will manage to pul it off in seven games.

The Hudson Series

I never wanted this to happen. The Rangers and the Flyers handed the division title to the Devils, and my hope was that the Rangers would either play against the Flyers or the Sabres, just not the New Jersey Devils. But, it’s exciting hockey nonetheless and this is exactly what the NHL needed. Two big rivalries face off and the New Jersey Devils are looking for revenge after losing to the Rangers three times in the playoffs in past years. After all, it was former Devils coach Jacques Lamaire who said he never wanted to play the Rangers ever in the playoffs, even if they were lousy and finished 8th. Will the curse continue on the Devils?

I have to say that I am a big hockey fan first, then a team’s fan. I know that Thornton or Jagr will most likely win the MVP of the year, and of course I’d vote in favor of Jagr. But, if I had a chance to vote twice, my vote would go to Patrick Elias. He has proved to be one of the best European Captains ever. Without him, the Devils would have never clinched the playoffs. They finally came together as a team, pulled through struggling times, and they stole the division title.

If I had to make a list of most surprising teams this season, well… it would go like this: Rangers, Hurricanes, Sharks, and Devils. They still prove to be a top NHL team.

The Rangers have been on a horrible slump as of late, but they’ve also had key injuries to deal with. Let’s face it, folks. When your top goalie has a hip flexor problem, your main checking center (Rucchin) has a broken bone in his foot, and the defense is far from healthy….winning the first round against the New Jersey Devils is a long shot. Still, the Rangers should be proud to have made the playoffs, and be looking towards next season’s playoffs as well. Rangers are young and they carry some inexperience with Lundqvist, Ortmeyer, Moore, Hollweg, Hossa, Rozsival, Prucha, Immonen, Pock, Tyutin, and Ward. Jaromir Jagr’s statement came true, that he will put the Rangers in the playoffs and he did. Hopefully, the Rangers will pull themselves together, feel rested, and be ready for Game 1 on Saturday. Unfortunately, it’s a lame 3-pm afternoon game. I think the battles will be close. Maybe the Rangers will revive themselves thanks to the rivalry with the Devils. But as far as I know, I think the Devils will beat the Rangers and win the series in five games. It will be a fun series, but I definitely don’t see this Rangers team, in the current state that they are in, winning against the Devils.

Sabres vs. Flyers

Everyone isn’t really betting on this one. It’s a wildcard. I can’t even bet on the winner of this series. But, I’ll gamble! Flyers are going with Robert Esche, two thumbs up!!! I never believed in Nity Gritty Finn. Esche is the go to guy for the Flyers. How do these two match up? I’d call it pretty even. Both teams have the goaltending. Their defenses are strong. The offense is in favor of the Flyers, but the Sabres have their key forwards. Flyers have an edge on playoff experience, but I have a feeling that the Sabres will take over and win in six games. And if I am wrong, then it’s vice versa, Flyers in six. The bottom line is, who will outwork who? I’d call on the Sabres to have the edge in hard work.

Vancouver Canucks Hockey

GM Dave Nonis, you’re the boss. Now it’s time to put YOUR team together. Todd Bertuzzi? Let the guy move on! It’s not just for the sake of the team, but also for his own sake! You know the Steve Moore story will continue into next season. The guy needs a change of scenery. So, trade him! Bring some new blood at GM Place. Had the Canadiens agreed to trade a top five prospect, then Bertuzzi would be wearing a Habs jersey by now. Just trade the guy! Teams will be interested in him. The Flyers will show interest, the Bruins will show interest. The Leafs, the Rangers, Hurricanes…. who wouldn’t? The Maple leafs got to fire Pat Quinn today, Nonis should fire coach Crawford. He didn’t hire him, it’s not his coach. Nonis has take control and do HIS own job this time. Brian Burke is gone, he has his own thing going in Anaheim. A lot of good coaches are out there, good players are out there. The free agency market will be rich. And by the way, let Ed Jovanovski walk. I am nearly 100% certain that Ed Jovanovski will sign with the Florida Panthers, and that will allow Dave Nonis to have a flashback of summer 2005. I heard him on MOJO Vancouver radio the day he re-signed Naslund and did not sign Rob Niedermeyer. Some morons got upset that he did not sign the best defenseman in the league, but he did not have the cap space. Well, he trades Bertuzzi, lets Jovo walk and heโ€™s got space. And guess what, folks? The Senators will not be able to re-sign both Zdeno Chara and Wade Redden. Whichever of the two is available, Nonis should sign. Looking at this year’s free agency, you could build a decent team starting from scratch. GM Nonis should take action and make the changes. Who cares about the press. If Naslund complains about the changes, well… who is he to say such anyway? The guy is not even sure to be a captain himself as he said he’d hand it over to someone else better than him. Are you kidding me? I would have ripped off that C from his jersey after saying that. Nonis MUST make his moves this off-season and make them significant.

This applies for Maple Leafs Hockey as well. Two thumbs up for GM Ferguson Jr. after firing Pat Quinn. GOOD. That’s a good first change. If McCabe wants a ridiculous salary, let him go for the money. I love how players say “I’d want to stay in Toronto”, but then reject big contracts because they want the highest bidder. Like I said with the Canucks above, this year’s free agency is rich. And, there’s no need to chase after the top players of the game. Please, mentioning Patrick Elias as a possibility to sign with the Leafs is ridiculous, unless the Devils will be that stupid to not re-sign him. Build a core of hard working players. Go after the no names. Right now, though, the Leafs are starting the off-season well because JFJ will hire a coach before July. At least, I think he should because the coach also decides the kind of team he wants.


I was not going to mention this a few weeks ago because I felt it was necessary to allow the season to finish and maybe save it for an off-season article, but I did manage to spread the news in a couple of hockey discussion forums. Anyway, the last game for the Florida Panthers was very emotional. When they won in OT against the Thrashers, the ending celebration was for the fans where the players gave their jerseys away to a line of fans standing on the red carpet in the middle of the ice. Steve Goldstein, the radio announcer, was on the ice with the mic, and when he mentioned Roberto Luongo’s name to hand the jersey to a fan, he said “And yes…. HE WILL BE BACK!”

That’s right folks. Roberto Luongo will re-sign with the Florida Panthers and from what I know, it will be a 4-year-deal. Disregard any rumors from the media about Luongo heading elsewhere. The guy is staying a Panther. And, most of this year’s players are staying with the Panthers, like Jon Sim, Josef Stumpel, and others. I have to say, GM Mike Keenan has regained my respect, after his bitter divorce with the Rangers, and I praise his performance as Panthers GM. I have a special feeling for this Panthers team, and I believe in them. They are good players and they showed me a lot of guts. They stuck together through hard times and for Keenan to reject the idea of selling players and changing the team for next season by piling up prospects and draft picks, it proved to be the future of this team. Good job Keenan, keep it up and congratulations on the team’s 4th best season in its history. Next season, this team is making the playoffs

Thank you all for reading and have fun!

Micki Peroni


80 Responses to NHL Playoffs Central, Brought to You by HTR.com

  1. mikster says:

    Predators have not been that good of a team in the 2nd half, at least….not as good as they were in the 1st half. Without Vokoun, i doubt they’ll win 4 games. Maybe one tops, but they don’t have any key defensemen besides Witt who will probably try to stop Cheechoo and Joe.

    Too hard to beat the Sharks.

    The Bolts are a bad team. They lack leadership, character….no Andreychuk. Goaltending is mediocre. And their coach is named Torturella.

    I agree with your biggest upset and both the toughest series to call, except i think the Rangers will be eliminated quickly. Still, maybe a 6 or 7 game series is possible.

  2. mikster says:

    Asphincter says what?!

    Thanks for the compliment! Have fun watching the playoffs.

  3. mikster says:

    No way. The Flyers are not like the Flyers of old. Brashear is tough but how much ice time should this bum get in the playoffs? Flyers are not that physical. The only physical threat out there to take seriously is Gauthier.

  4. mikster says:

    Depends who they sign in the off-season. They’re getting Bertuzzi, i’ll bet on that.

  5. mikster says:

    No way. I did that preview on the Sabres in October. I called them for 8th seed and i got it wrong, but they made the playoffs!!!!

    I agree on most of your picks, except that Nitty is better than Esche. If the Flyers win, it will be because of Esche.

  6. LeafyMcLeaf says:

    First of all, check the standings, the Leafs were closest to the Lightning, not the Thrashers, had St Louis had not come heroicly, and the Leafs hadn’t given up against the Sabres, Quinn’d die another day.

    I’m not saying the Lightning will win, but they’re not gonna roll over and play dead.

    The Flyers sure as hell won’t lack character if (big IF) Keith Primeau comes back. He’s a playoff superstar, two hat tricks against the Leafs in the 04 Conference Semi Finals, he is a difference maker, I hope he can come back.

    The Habs just aren’t a very good team. I love Saku Koivu but he is absolutely the most over rated player in the league. He’s incosistant, he’s small, and he really isn’t that good a scorer.

    The Flyers… Brashear, Hatcher, Knuble, is Turner Stevenson still with them? I think he was put on waivers, and picked up. They’ve still got a big physical presence.

    Idunno, I’m not saying you’re wrong on any of them, I’m just saying I wouldn’t put my money on them.

  7. EasternHockey says:

    I doubt they’ll have a problem next year. Gainey cleared a nice amount of cap room by ditching Theodore, I’m sure he’ll make some smart moves. As for Bertuzzi… I can’t see Gainey showing much interest for him, he just doesn’t play the same way he did before the Moore incident.

  8. ZeroX93 says:

    Roberto is staying in Florida! Like he said himself after the Thrasher’s game in an interview, he never had any desire to really leave Florida, he was only afraid of the teams direction at the time.

    So, NO Roberto doesn’t want to play for any other team BUT the PANTHERS!!! Stop dreaming about seeing him in a Canadian team’s uniform already!

    I’ve also read on the sun-sentinel that Roberto has actually been speaking with free agents. It says…

    “Luongo apparently has started lobbying.

    “Without naming names, I know he talked to a couple of free agents,” Keenan said. “And he said to them, `Are you going to come here?’ And they said, `What do you mean am I going to come there? Are you going to stay?'”


    So yeah hopefully we make some good additions this season (which for the first time in like 6 seasons I think we will). And I too believe Jovocop will be back in a Cats uniform. That would be an awesome addition. Add a legit finisher to compliment Stumpel and Niewy and unload some pressure off jokinen. This team looks very good, especially with its younger core.

  9. habsoverserver says:

    Gainey is there to make money for Gillett, not to win for the fans. Have you noticed that 90% of Gainey’s trades are for third-fourth line players and back-up goalies?

  10. Gretzkin says:

    That’s totally weird.

    I don’t get it.

    Doesn’t make a lick of sense to me.

    How does personnel and team mix?

    That’s f’d up.

    What’s the deal with that?

  11. Gretzkin says:

    What are you talking about

    Edmonton went 2-1-1

    You’re wrong.

    Cool about the Olympic stat, and I do love Yzerman.

    But Edmonton took 5 of 8 points.

    Look it up.

  12. Gretzkin says:

    kiss it goodbye

  13. Gretzkin says:

    Nov 3 Oilers Win 4-3 in OT

    Nov 17 Oilers Win 6-5 in OT

    March 18 Wings win 3-4 OT

    April 11 Detroit Win 2-0

    Do the Math.

    5 points Oilers

    3 poinst Wings

  14. LeafyMcLeaf says:

    You’ve got a hell of a team in Florida, especilaly if you add Jovo.

    Nieuwendyk and Roberts are typical Canadian hockey players. They work hard, they’re leaders, they’re real classy, they hit, they score. As a Leafs fan, I’ll never forgive John Ferguson for letting them go. Mike Keenan knows his hockey, he adds good Canadian guys like that. He got rid of that lazy ass Kristian Huselius. You really need a stud defenseman like Jovo.

    I almost cried after hearing Nieuwy left, he kept talking about how much he wanted to be stay a Leaf, and Fergie just pushed him aside…. Nieuwendyk’ll make him pay, the Panthers next year will make the playoffs, the Leafs will not, and JFJ will lose his job.

  15. LeafyMcLeaf says:

    lmao…bud, don’t get down on your team, they’re making the playoffs. The Rangers won’t next year, Jagr will find some reason to sulk. I can’t see them being that good two years in a row. Cole’s injury will hurt his play if he comes back, and with Weight and Recchi likely leaving, and hell if they win the cup, Brind’Amour could prolly retire, don’tsee the Canes goin 2 years. The Leafs won’t make it, they suck, and will come in dead last. Panthers and Thrashers… if either team makes it, it’s Florida, they’re getting Jovo back, and they’ll bea hell of a team.

  16. muckies says:

    The good news

    1. Emery was Ottawa’s best player.

    2. Tampa quit after Ottawa scored

    3. Alfie wasn’t having a good game, but on the power play that they scored, he had his best shift of the game and kept the pressure on.

    4. Spezza’s looking like an MVP

  17. dcz28 says:

    My math is good…yours on the other hand seems to need some work lol

    Nov 3 Oilers Win 4-3 in OT = 1 point for the Wings

    Nov 17 Oilers Win 6-5 in OT = 1 point for the Wings

    March 18 Wings win 3-4 OT = 2 points for the Wings

    April 11 Detroit Win 2-0 = 2 points for the wings

    total = 6 points for the Wings to Oilers 5 points…Wings never lost in regulation so they get points in all the games and their official record against the Oilers is 2-0-2 by lets just call it a split shall we.

    A good game tonight and Roloson was better than i thought he would be although the shot total was a bit misleading since the Wings were shooting from everywhere and as it turns out it produced the game winner in ot. Legace saved the Wings butt with the two saves in the last minute while down a man and was good despite not getting many shots.

    Oilers will have to shoot more if they want to win this series but overall it was a good game by them with all the blocked shots and good saves by both goalies and i really liked the ending. ๐Ÿ™‚ (although one game does not win a series and it will only get harder as it goes along)

    Can’t wait for game 2 on sunday now and it should be a good one with Datsyuk likely to play…Go Wings Go!!

  18. wheresthesoda says:

    I dont know, i’m just hoping the Rangers come out in game 1, hungry. If they play with heart, and are hungry, then good things can happen. Lets just wait and see.

  19. mikster says:

    And Jaromir Jagr didn’t play the sameway he did since being traded to Washington, but when he got a new change of scenery…..an enthusiastic Jagr turned out to be a monster.

    Same with Thornton.

    Why not Bertuzzi? As far as i know, Nonis and Gainey were the last ones to talk about Bertuzzi before the deadline and apparently the reason why nothing got done is because Nonis wanted a top prospects, which Canucks are in need of.

  20. Gretzkin says:


    I didn’t even do the Wings sums, that’s funny.

    Anyways, that was an awesome game last night.

    Roloson got completely shelled and did a great job.

    Oilers need to shoot much more.

    I can’t wait for Sunday.

    Good luck!

    GO OIL

  21. mikster says:

    Well, i was qrogn quite wuickly! Thanks to the Sharks, a 29 year-old back-up Chris Mason played like an All-Star.

  22. toronto77 says:

    way to early to tell if he can be an mvp

  23. mojo19 says:


    Wings in a tough 5 games

    Stars in 5

    Flames in 6

    Preds in 7

    Then wings over preds, stars over Flames and Red Wings to the Finals


    Sens in 5

    Canes in 7

    Rangers in 7

    Sabres in 6

    Then Sabres over Canes and Sens over Rangers

    And the Buffalo Sabres over the Ottawa Senators.

    Wings beat Buffalo in the Finals.

  24. kicksave856 says:

    I agree with a lot of the things you say, but I take a little offense at your repeated bashing of Brashear (I don’t know why, but I do). The Flyers aren’t asking him to be a goal scorer, or even a good position player. They are just asking him to beat people up every once in a while and he seems to do that ok. He only gets normal shifts to police the ice a little, not to be an impact on the score sheet. A lot of teams have a “goon” type player and it does help keep the opposition elbows down a little against your “star” players. A bum is someone who isn’t any good at the job he’s asked to do. Brashear is actually pretty good at the job he is asked to do. Just thought I’d waste some time posting this crap, not that it’s very important…

  25. leafstopgun says:

    champs 2 years ago alot of time has past dead in the water

  26. kicksave856 says:

    What did you delete? You censored YOURSELF? That’s awesome.

  27. kicksave856 says:

    I’m not one to root for the Rangers, but since they haven’t been very good in a while my hate for the Devils has surpassed my hate for the Rangers. So here I sit, rooting for the Rangers to beat the Devils. And here I sit disappointed while watching this game, which looks to be over early in the third. Maybe I should just drink a few more and doze off until the night games. This one looks to be a disappointing blowout so far. Freakin’ Rangers.

  28. LeafyMcLeaf says:

    They still know they’re the defending champs, and they’re not gonna go down without a fight, it’ll be prolly six games.

  29. habs_punk says:

    If only you watched the occasional Montreal game, then you might realize that Koivu isn’t the most overrated player in the game. He can be streaky, but when it’s important, he’s doing everything he can for his team. He plays all out. Does the little things, and the big things. More than once he’s changed the momentum of an entire game with a big hit, impressive for someone his size. Last time Montreal played Carolina, he looked as if he turned the entire series in Montreal’s favor with a massive hit on Vasicek, unfortunately some bad calls, some bad coaching, some bad bounces, and some bad goals completely unraveled the Habs that year. Koivu is pure heart.

    As for Montreal not being a very good team, a more accurate description would be that they are a very streaky team. There was that incredible run at the start of the season followed by a horrible mid-season, but they finished off as one of the best teams since the Olympic break. If they get on a roll, they’ll give any team in the league a run for their money. Tonite was evidence enough of that.


  30. Radio says:

    Yes…”Ron” Emery will fill in nicely for the Sens…


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