Even though I have been on a different continent and watched none of the games, these may be the greatest playoffs ever. Why you ask? Because my favourite team the Ottawa Senators are still playing at the end of May. This has never happened before and has gotten me so incredibly pumped to start watching hockey again.
Anywho, since there is only one series left, we have included a bit of a recap, plus our predictions for Conn Smythe.
As for our little contest, the unthinkable has happened...Troy has moved ahead of me.
Troy: 12 (The 10 from last round, plus 2 for calling Anaheim in the correct number of games)
Glen: 11 (The 10 from last round, plus 1 for calling Anaheim over Detroit)
Due to the higher stakes of the finals, I am going to make all scores double, including 2 points for calling the Conn Smythe. Yeah I am effectively changing the rules so that I can still win...
Every round I seem to get more and more surprised at how well Ottawa plays. They really had no business being in there with the Sabres, let alone beating them so handily. I know that Buffalo was playing really week all playoffs, but still, they are the Sabres, a team that cruised to the Presidents Trophy.
Anyway, I predicted that they would win the cup all season (unlike Troy, who has been spending all playoffs saying that he did, but in actual fact, if you look back at all three mid-season predictaculars, he never even predicted Buffalo to make the Cup finals...what a lying jerk) so I'm in a wee bit of shock. Anyway, Ottawa has cruised through the first three rounds but now faces a huge challenge, can they be up for it?
Three words...A....ma....zing....Buffalo has been my pick all season and for them to go out the way they did was amazing. But did Buffalo just pooch it, or was it the play of Ottawa that caused the pooching. It's a tough call, and most likely a bit of both but it must be remembered that Ottawa has won it's first 3 series in 5 games each and that is pretty impressive but the sad part is that until Ottawa breaks through and wins the Stanley Cup, the choker label will never be lifted.
PS. How much is next season going to suck for Buffalo because there seems to be little to no chance that they'll be able to keep Briere and Drury both of whom become unrestricted free agents this summer.
Well Detroit did beter than I expected, but then again, I haven't expected much of them all year. I have had the feeling most of these playoffs that Anaheim has been throwing the odd game to not have too much time in between series. Seriously, they should have swept the Wild and the Canucks. They got outplayed in that 5-0 loss to the Wings, but that really just motivated them to come back harder.
The moral of the story is that the Ducks are playing fantastic and deserve to be here. They proved why they have been the team to beat in the West all year. It's a big question if they are the team to beat in the entire NHL...
What's this?? I'm sorry. But did I call another series perfectly? How about game 4. Anaheim loses Pronger on a stupid suspension and Giguere pulls out the win. That was Detroit's chance to win the series and they couldn't come through. Pronger is just too good. Mix in Giguere and you've got a serious contender. A part of me was hoping to see Detroit take this series because I think Ottawa matches up better against Detroit, but at the same time my hatred of all things Hasek makes me happy that Anaheim won.
STANLEY CUP FINAL
For the third year in a row we are having a Canadian team play against a 90s expansion/relocated southern team. I don't think that I need to tell you that both times the Canadian teams came up short. Unlike the last two finals, this is one that should have happened before. Back in 2003 the Ducks swept the Wild in the Western Finals and Ottawa was playing Jersey in the Eastern Finals. With a minute left in Game 7, stupid Jeff Friesen Garbage Face scored to give the Devils the win, a trip to the Finals and an eventual Stanley Cup ring. Since then, the Senators have not even came close to the finals, that is until now.
Do they have what it takes? I really don't know Ottawa has the edge in Forwards, but in terms of Defense and Goaltending, the Ducks are miles ahead. And in reality, those are the things that win championships, even in this post-lockout-new-NHL-heavy-scoring era. But the Senators have this aura of destiny about them this year that I haven't felt about a team in a really, really long time.
Before I make my prediction, I'm going to preface it with one eerie fact. Every round I have predicted that the Senators would go down in 5 and they have won in 5. I would much rather have my favourite team win the Cup than be right.
Ducks in 5.
Alrighty, so here we are. The Stanley Cup will be going to a First time winner (I'm not counting Ottawa's 1927 Stanley Cup win) I like seeing new teams win the cup, (unless of course it's Montreal).
My heart is with Ottawa of course in this final but the matchup favours Anaheim. Giguere has been here before whilst Emery is in uncharted territory so the advantage in net has to be given to Anaheim.
Defensively you simply cannot do better than Pronger and Niedermayer. Ottawa's defense has come up huge in this post-season and is perhaps playing above themselves while Pronger and Niedermayer are stalwarts and we know what they can and will do so the advantage on the blueline has to be given to Anaheim as well.
Offensively is where Ottawa my have the edge. The complaint however has been their lack of depth upfront but I don't think that has been a problem. They have gotten secondary scoring when they needed it but they just haven't needed it much because the big line has been amazing. I will give the advantage in offense to Ottawa although Anaheim can definitely put the puck in the net as well.
This is going to be a close series and the play of Emery and Ottawa's big line will decide just how close but in the end I believe the experience of Giguere and the leadership and strength of Pronger will push Anaheim past Ottawa.
This is the third season in a row with a Canadian team in the finals and the previous two have both gone 7 games and I believe this series will as well. Anaheim in 7.
Alfredsson has played well beyond expectations and previous history. It's really been quite amazing to be honest, I've been wondering if he's been replaced with a robot from IKEA!!! But since I predicted a Ducks win, and the Conn Smythe normally goes to a player on the winning team, I am going to go with the guy who very likely could have won it last year, Mr. Chris Pronger.
Well he won it in a losing cause so I think he'll win it in a winning cause. I give the Conn Smythe to J.S. Giguere.
Until next time,