(1) Montreal over (8) Boston in 5
(2) Pittsburgh over (7) Ottawa in 5
(6) Philadelphia over (3) Washington in 6
(5) New York Rangers over (4) New Jersey in 7
(1) Montreal over (6) Philadelphia in 5
(2) Pittsburgh over (5) New York Rangers in 6
(2) Pittsburgh over (1) Montreal in 6
Things to watch:
1) How will young Canadiens goalie Carey Price handle the pressures of carrying the load in the playoffs?
2) Will Marian Hossa's limited playing time with the Penguins hurt them?
3) How far can Alexander Ovechkin take the Capitals in the playoffs?
4) How much offense will the Devils provide Marty Brodeur?
5) Will the Rangers lack of defense prevent them from going far in the playoffs?
6) Which Martin Biron show up in the playoffs?
7) How will the Senators generate offense without captain Daniel Alfredsson?
8) How will Marc Savard, Chuck Kobasew, and Patrice Bergeron perform after coming off of injuries?
(1) Detroit over (8) Nashville in 6
(2) San Jose over (7) Calgary in 5
(3) Minnesota over (6) Colorado in 6
(4) Anaheim over (5) Dallas in 6
(4) Anaheim over (1) Detroit in 6
(2) San Jose over (3) Minnesota in 6
San Jose over Anaheim in 7
Things to watch:
1) Will the Red Wings have another early exit in the playoffs?
2) Did the Sharks peak too early?
3) Will Niklas Backstrom be able to lead the Wild far into the playoffs?
4) Can the Ducks repeat as Stanley Cup Champions?
5) How will trade deadline acquisition Brad Richards impact the offense?
6) Will Peter Forsberg be able to play games 3 and 4 on back-to-back nights?
7) How will Mike Keenan's bad relationship affect the play of Kristian Huselius?
8) Will David Legwand be able to play, and if so, how effective will he be?
Stanley Cup Finals:
(2) San Jose over (2) Pittsburgh in 6
I picked the Sharks to win the Stanley Cup at the beginning of the season, and I am sticking to my pick. I had them beating Ottawa, who I think has no shot of advancing. Patrick Marleau has 19 points in his last 20 games. Jonathan Cheechoo is back from a head injury. Joe Thornton has 9 goals in his last 8 games. Defenseman Brian Campbell has 3 goals and 16 assists in 20 games since coming over from the Sabres. Vezina frontrunner Evgeni Nabokov led the NHL with 46 wins. The Sharks rank in the top ten in both the power play and penalty kill. The line of Milan Michalek, Joe Thornton, and Jonathan Cheechoo is going to have to perform very well if the Sharks expect to win the Stanley Cup.
The Penguins are led by Sidney Crosby, who was running away with the scoring title before a sprained ankle caused him to miss 28 games. Crosby's injury forced someone else to step up for the Penguins, and it was none other than Russian superstar Evgeni Malkin. Malkin went on an amazing run of 41 points in 20 games that started in January (which happened to be around the same time I traded Malkin for fantasy hockey). Malkin had 36 points in the 29 games that Crosby did not play. Marian Hossa was acquired in a trade-deadline deal from the Thrashers, and Hossa missed some time with a knee injury. Now fully healthy, he will be an important part of the Penguins' success. Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury has been great since his return, and the Pens have two reliable backups in Ty Conklin and Dany Sabourin if Fleury does not do well. Sergei Gonchar and Ryan Whitney anchor the bluelines on a very effective power play. They have combined for 15 goals and 53 assists on the power play.