Chicago vs. San Jose: Poor Pat Foley. The voice of the Blackhawks has been silenced for the season. That’s what happens when the Stanley Cup playoffs have been sold off to an obscure cable network (Versus) and a fading network (NBC). I rip the two television outlets for the NHL in the U.S. only because Foley no longer will be heard because he is the Hawks local broadcaster. He is the best play-by-play guy in the NHL since the late Dan Kelly. In memory of Foley, then, I must pick the Blackhawks. They are faster, younger and due. Let’s see, the last Cup was in 1961. Despite their recent chokes, the Sharks haven’t suffered enough. They do not have enough grit in the Western Conference final, at least for the Hawks. Chicago in six.
Montreal vs. Philadelphia: Who let the dogs in? Philly qualified for the playoffs on the last day of the regular season, in a shootout. Montreal the Mediocre certainly didn’t expect to be here. For the first time in the current format a 7 seed is playing an 8 seed. Now we’ve got a battle of unlikely. The Flyers’ 21-year-old budding star James van Riemsdyk is a power forward who could make a difference against the Habs smallish forwards. Speaking of unknown guys who make an impact, we give you Montreal goalie Jaroslav Halak. Before this playoff season he’d never won a postseason game (97 career minutes, one loss). Now he is the hottest goalie left in the tournament. For the sake of Canada and its 17-year wait for a Cup, take the Canadians in 7.