Wednesday, May 7, 2008


Well its crunch time now folks. Last round I spent all of the losses I can afford if I have any chance of bettering my record over last season. I’m now at 8 – 4 and have to go perfect the rest of the way. The pressure is now on for me as it is on the teams facing off for the conference titles. Monkey be damned, I’m going to show up and do my best to pick the winners despite the magic and trickery the animal kingdom will undoubtedly be using against me. Last year all I had for a thorn in my side when it came to making picks were the Senators, this year I seem to have two pesky teams (Stars and Flyers) fudging things up. Chances are one of these teams will ultimately screw me out of my goal of going 11 – 4 for the playoffs so it is making my picks a bit harder to make, but since I have to make them; let’s get to it.

The big time players for the Pens came through in route of dispatching the Rangers where as the lesser lights propelled the Flyers past the Habs. Goaltending was superb for both teams and there is no reason to believe that it will be any different going forward. Neither goalie has seen action this deep into the second season so it is hard to gage how they will respond and will most likely wash each other out barring a complete disaster. When looking at the talent of the rosters the Pens have the edge and with the Crosby/Hose combination just starting to click they seem to possess all they need to get past their state rivals. As for the Flyers, they have been living off 2nd and 3rd liners coming up big for them when their top players are put in check. I wonder though just how long they can live off of Umberger, Hartnell and Upshall as go to guys. We all know that the Flyers will try and play physical and stay in the face of the Pens forwards while trying to make them pay for mistakes like they did against their previous opponents. The Pens have shown us this season that they can play any style of game and still come out on top shedding any notion that their defense is suspect in any way. They will have to work for everything they get as the Flyers have no quit in them and make you pay for every inch. They will have to make the Flyers run around with puck movement in the offensive zone and force them into taking penalties. This series should be a good one and I foresee a split after 4 games. PITTSBURGH IN 6

The Stars fell a couple of would be giants in route to the Conference Final and in the process made them look big, slow and sloppy. They had outstanding goaltending from Turco and excellent play from the kids on the blue-line as well as hard nosed effort from their leaders. Finding timely scoring is what did them in last year and it looks like they solved that problem this time around. No, that is not their problem any more. Their problem is they are about to face a machine not a hockey team. The Wings systematically dispatch anything in their path rolling 4 lines of pressure when needed and puck possession – time eating dominance when in the lead. There are no holes in this lineup as every line can create offense and defensive pairings are top notch. The one thing that Turco has not really had to deal with so far is someone constantly in his face. Both the Ducks and Sharks failed to keep him from seeing shots, but that will all change facing the Wings. It will be interesting to see how he reacts with Holmstrom in his grill the entire time. The Wings actually lucked out with the Stars beating two very physical teams and drawing the Avs in the 2nd round, they are healthy for the most part and arrive at the final without having been beaten up which was missing from the formula the last couple of seasons. I have to give credit to the Stars for a very nice run, but this is where the run ends. DETROIT IN 5

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