NHL Predictions: Montreal sails, Flames fail

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Heading into the 2008 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Gazette Sports offers up its picks.

EASTERN CONFERENCE
Montreal (1) vs. Boston (8)
Expect the Canadiens to have an easy time with the Bruins. Goalie Carey Price’s lack of experience should not be a factor. As well, look for the inevitable comparisons to Patrick Roy and Ken Dryden, who won the Cup during their rookie campaigns with the Habs.
Canadiens in five

Pittsburgh (2) vs. Ottawa (7)
Despite Ottawa taking three of four games from Pittsburgh during the regular season, expect the trend to come to an end as the Pens should come out on top. Injuries to Senators Daniel Alfredsson and Mike Fisher will lead to the team’s undoing.
Penguins in six

Washington (3) vs. Philadelphia (6)
Look for the Capitals, who have won nine of their last 10, to continue their hot streak. The additions of Sergei Fedorov and Cristobal Huet at the trade deadline paired with the team’s momentum should send Philly to the links after a hard-fought series.
Capitals in six

New Jersey (4) vs. New York Rangers (5)
The Devils have a plethora of playoff experience, as the team has a combined 18 Stanley Cup rings. Despite this, look for Chris Drury to have a good series and lead the Rangers to a first-round victory.
Rangers in seven

CONFERENCE SEMI-FINALS
Montreal (1) vs. New York (5)
Following a first-round win, expect Canadian media outlets to jump on the Montreal bandwagon and ride it to the next round. The series may also be the last for veterans Jaromir Jagr and Brendan Shanahan so expect to see retro highlights with Jagr’s famous long hair and salute.
Canadiens in five

Pittsburgh (2) vs. Washington (3)
The NHL marketing execs will be foaming at the mouth for this match-up featuring arguably the league’s top two players: Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin. Sid the Kid, with the help of snipers Evgeni Malkin and Marian Hossa should win this battle, overpowering the Caps’ defence.
Penguins in five

CONFERENCE FINAL
Montreal (1) vs. Pittsburgh (2)
The top two seeds should meet in the Eastern Conference final, and this time Sid the Kid will shine. Last year’s Hart winner will continue his quest for the Conn Smythe Trophy, as the Penguins will end Canada’s hope for its first Cup since 1993.
Penguins in six

WESTERN CONFERENCE
Detroit (1) vs. Nashville (8)
The high-scoring Red Wings will be too much for Nashville’s defensive corps, a group that allowed 229 goals in the regular season " the most of any playoff team in the West.
Red Wings in five

San Jose (2) vs. Calgary (7)
These teams stack up fairly even. Each has strong goaltending, solid, mobile defencemen and most importantly, veteran leadership in the likes of Jarome Iginla and Joe Thornton. Give the edge to the Sharks who have home-ice advantage.
Sharks in seven

Minnesota (3) vs. Colorado (6)
With Jose Theodore playing like the man that won the Hart and Vezina trophies in 2002, look for the Avalanche to shut down the Wild’s offence. The playoff experience of Peter Forsberg, Adam Foote, and Joe Sakic should be enough for Colorado to pull off this first round ‘upset.’
Avalanche in six

Anaheim (4) vs. Dallas (5)
The defending champs seem to have hit their stride heading into the playoffs. The return of Teemu Selanne to the Ducks added some much- needing scoring depth after the loss of Corey Perry to injury.
Ducks in six

CONFERENCE SEMI-FINALS
Detroit (1) vs. Anaheim (4)
In a rematch of last year’s conference final, look for the Ducks to overpower the Wings once again. Detroit’s speed and scoring touch should be neutralized by the aggressiveness of the Ducks, who will wear down the Wings with its physical play.
Ducks in five

San Jose (2) vs. Colorado (6)
While the less fatigued Avalanche may come out with a quick start, the Sharks should be able to control this series, overwhelming the Colorado defence.
Sharks in five

CONFERENCE FINAL
San Jose (2) vs. Anaheim (4)
This battle of California should go right to the wire. In what will be the most physical series each team has played since the opening round, the Sharks will come out on top.
Sharks in seven

STANLEY CUP FINAL
San Jose vs. Pittsburgh
The Cup stays in California as the well-rounded Sharks should out-do the Penguins.
Sharks in five

CONN SMYTHE WINNER:
Joe Thornton

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