Friday, May 05, 2006


Carolina Hurricanes vs New Jersey Devils - Two teams who seem evenly matched on paper and going by the regular season. They have two lines each who can score plenty of goals. They have decent defensemen who will block plenty of shots as well. That is where they similarity stops, right at the goal line. While it seems that Carolina is going to go with rookie Cam Ward who brilliantly replaces normal starter Martin Gerber in goal, the Devils will rely on veteran and future Hall Of Famer Martin Brodeur. It remains to be seen whether Ward can outduel Brodeur. Yes, it may come down to that. The stingy Devils defense routed the New York Rangers 4-0 letting in only 4 goals and that statistic will scare the Hurricanes. Nevermind that most fans think that the Rangers just died in the playoffs, the Devils are a formidable opponent normally, but in the playoffs they seem like born to win. The Hurricanes will hope that the scoring goes on when Eric Staal, Dough Weight, Mark Recchi, Ray Whitney & Cory Stillman hit the ice. Meanwhile the Devils have their own scorers in John Madden, Brian Gionta, Jamie Langenbrunner & Scott Gomez. This could be a tight affair with the first slipup likely to be the decisive factor.

This will quite probably be the fastest of the four semifinals being played in the NHL. The fast, talented & speedy Ottawa Senators are matched in those departments by the Sabres of Buffalo. Both teams are loaded with skill players capable of head-turning, jaw-dropping individual plays, while still maintaining the team concept necessary to succeed in the NHL's second season. While the Sens will want to dispell the notion that they are playoff busts, the Sabres will want to go one better than their runners-up finish in 1999. One bit of irony is that the Sens' number goalie is Dominik Hasek who, although is currently injured and won't be playing, was the goalie in 1999 for the Sabres. Hasek had critisised the Sabres for lack of ambition and left to join Detroit first and then Ottawa. Also Ottawa area native Daniel Brier is a star forward & co-captain of the Sabres. You can expect goals galore in this series. In beating the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-1, Martin Havlat was wonderful in offence. So were Jason Spezza & Dany Heatly. A big plus was the form of normal backup goalie Ray Emery who played well. The Sabres will depend on all four lines for scoring and will hope that goalie Ryan Miller continous his game the way it was in game 6 of the series with Philladelphia. The squad will look for Daniel Brier, Chris Drury, Derek Roy & Tim Connolly to lead the Sabres past the Sens.

Anaheim Mighty Ducks vs Colorado Avalanche - Both teams seem to be matched in terms if form at the moment. No one expected the Avs to beat the Dallas Stars in 5 games, at times seeming the much better team. Considering that the Avalanche were thought to be in transit with the changing of many personel and that they just about managed to sneak into the playoffs, you can't fault people for thinking that their chances were negligible. But Colorado proved everyone wrong and they could get past the Mighty Ducks with a little luck. Another thing that may be in the Avs favour is that during the regular season, the two teams met twice and they won 3 of them. And Jose Theodore's signing seems to have been a big postive for them, judging by how he has played against Dallas. The Mighty Ducks have gone from strength to strength since February and they beat the Calgary Flames to reach the semifinals. They will rely again on veterans Temmu Selanne & Rob Neidermayer to get them through to the Western finals. A goalkeeping paradox has occured; star goalie Jean-Sebatien Giguere did not play as well after recovering from an injury, meaning backup Ilja Bryzgalov got to play game 6 & 7 of the Flames series and won. His superb form may keep Giguere out of the playoffs.

San Jose Sharks vs Edmonton Oilers - The Oilers fairytale victory over the much fancied Detroit Red Wings are stuff of what playoff legends are made off. But will they be able to get past a red hot Sharks team bursting at the seems with virtuosity? Edmonton will have to reply on their young and hard skating team to pull off another upset win and will fancy their chances if the series goes to the distance. Trading for a solid goalkeeper in Dwayne Roloson is beinging to seem like sensible management and Roloson was excellent against Detroit. Expect stellar defenseman Chris Pronger to have his hands full against the San Jose trio of Johnathan Cheechoo, Joe Thornton & Patrick Marleau. The Sharks have had solid goaltending of their own in Vesa Toskala and will need him to be at his best against the young Oilers who are scoring on the break while being defensive. Ryan Smyth will lead an attack with the likes of Shawn Horcoff, Ales Hemsky & Jared Stoll against the Sharks. Scott Hannan will be at the helm of the defense wall to stop them. I expect this one to also have plenty of goals in it.

Babe of the week - NATASHA HENSTRIDGE

Song for the day - "We're Gonna Win" - BRYAN ADAMS