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NHL Conference Finals Preview

PhotobucketThis article has been submitted by Paul O’Neill and Matt Douglas.

Paul: I went 2-2 in the second round, incorrectly relying on some dirty Frenchmen to live up to their expectations and I should have never made my love affair with Joe Thornton public (next year, I swear to god, next year). This puts me at 8-4 over the course of the playoffs and hopefully I can put together two solid predictions in the conference finals to match my perfect record in last year’s conference finals.

Matt: Guess who went 0 for 4 in the second round? Me. I’m an idiot and that horrid run puts me at 7-5 for the playoffs so far. Hopefully this time I can get it together, I am thinking a little more clearly with my Habs out of it and I’m not hungover while I write this.

The Habs bowed out at home in 6, leaving many fans asking what the hell happened to the team from the regular season. They are young and it showed, the defense was giving up the blueline, Carey Price looked rattled and never settled down , but still there were some bright spots and next year should be good. I couldn’t help but feel bad for Colorado, as the injury bug bit them at the worst time possible and they needed all of their pieces in place to beat a strong Red Wings squad. San Jose never recovered after the first game, but provided the most exciting second round series. Finally the Penguins dominated a very skilled New York team and may have enough to take the Cup this year.

<Pittsburgh (2) vs. Philadelphia (6)
Paul: The battle of Pennsylvania is going to be a fast paced offensive juggernaut of a series. R.J. Umberger and Daniel Briere rank 2nd and 3rd in the playoffs with nine and eight goals, respectively. Malkin, Crosby and Briere are tied for second with 14 points each in the playoffs (granted Malkin and Crosby have done it in only 9 games compared to 12 for Briere). Both teams have been dynamite on the powerplay with each recording a 24.0% success rate. Pittsburgh has the advantage on the penalty kill, killing off 89.5% of the opposing team’s powerplays.

The Penguins just have too much talent for the Flyers to handle. Crosby and Malkin are arguably the two best players in the Eastern Conference. You know you’re fucked when Crosby comes 2nd to Malkin as the player you are most worried about. Hal Gill is playing like a Norris trophy winner. Well, that’s a stretch… kinda like his nuts. Hal Gill shall be called Stretch Nuts from now on. Anyways, the Penguins are young, hungry, passionate, and they have the goalie with the best save percentage left in the playoffs.

Martin Biron hasn’t been Martin Biron. I’m not going to say the Flyers don’t have a chance but I have a better chance of nailing Scarlet Johansson and Jessica Alba at the same time while watching the Leaf’s win this year’s Stanley Cup in three games.

Penguins in 5

Matt: The Flyers had a hot goalie which got them past the Canadiens. I know I am also biased, but despite Bob Cole’s biased commentary the Flyers were not keeping pace with the Habs. They were heavily outshot, outplayed and capitalized on breakdowns by the Habs. Montreal’s defense also backed in on their goalie making life even harder on Carey Price.

The Penguins ran circles around the Rangers and were in complete control the entire series. In game five I was hoping for a miracle, but it was clear that Pittsburg was going to score. I didn’t watch all of the series but from what I saw the Penguins are the real deal.

Prediction – Pens in 4 - I am going with the favorite since my upset picks murdered me last round. That and the fact that the Flyers were likely the worst team to sneak into the postseason this year and made it into the conference final by accident.

Detroit (1) vs. Dallas (5)
Paul: Jesus H. Christ, I’m a believer! This Dallas team is for real. Marty Turco is so bad. So so so so so so bad. He’s sooooo bad, the good kind of bad. The kind of bad you don’t want to bring home to your mom at Christmas, but the kind of bad she would love to get as a secret present at 3am on Mother’s Day. Turco’s performance in game 6 against the Sharks was legendary. He was able to stymie the Sharks offence the whole series.

Brenden Morrow is a prime candidate for the Conn Smythe trophy. It seemed like such a strange decision to strip Modano of his captaincy, but seeing Morrow lead this team deep into the playoffs shows justification. For Brad Richards this must feel like déjà vu, except in a different conference.

I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again, the Detroit Red Wings are the best team in the NHL. It’s retarded to have your two best offensive forwards as your two best defensive forwards. It’s just silly. I feel like they play in some sort of parallel universe where you can have your cake and eat it too. Johan Franzen is on fire and Chris Osgood has yet to lose a game since taking over from Dominik Hasek. With Niklas Lidstrom and Niklas Kronwall on defence, it seems impossible to find a chink in Detroits armor.

However, there is something about this Dallas team. The way they play, their passion and their work ethic is second to none. The Wings have yet to be tested, facing a lowly Nashville team that took them to six games and an injury ravished Avalanche team. Dallas is on fire and playing with confidence with the hottest goalie still left in playoffs. This is going to be the best series of the two and it’s going to go the distance. Marty Turco is so bad, so bad he’s going to steal the final game in Joe Louis arena, flash the crowd, slam a beer, rail coke off a hooker and sucker punch Pavel Datsyuk in the handshake.

Stars in 7

Matt: The Red Wings made a smart decision by dumping Hasek for Osgood. Hasek is a creepy old man that will steal your soul if you look into his eyes too long. The Wings got a bit lucky facing the Avalanche when they did. The series never materialized into the bloodbath from previous years, greatly due to the key injuries and illness on Colorado’s part.

The Stars are legit and so is Marty Turco, holding his own in the only two long overtime games we’ve seen this year and winning one. The series turned out to be the most entertaining and provided some great hockey. The two teams beat each other up, but I feel the big difference was the Dallas penalty kill. The man-advantage is so much more important in the post season and the Stars have it down, with an aggressive box that collapses perfectly.

Prediction – Red Wings in 6 – I had a really hard time with this one. Dallas looks fantastic and the Wings haven’t really been tested. Still Dallas went through a war to get here and Detroit is getting a lot of secondary scoring (Johan!). Osgood never has gotten his due and is a good goalie, the Wings play a tight defensive game and I think they can stop the great offense Dallas has.

This article has been submitted by Paul O’Neill and Matt Douglas.

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2 Responses to “NHL Conference Finals Preview”

  1. Blake Murphy Says:

    Stretch Nuts? How is this blog almost four months old and you just made the FIRST Insane Clown Posse reference? I love ICP. Damn, I’ll work on that.

  2. Tieja Says:

    ew, dirty mexican crosby, i want them out of the playoffs just so he’ll shave that god awful thing

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