Pittsburgh defeats Ottawa (4-2)
The Ottawa Senators got wiped out by the defending Stanley Cup Champions in the Pittsburgh Penguins, and that's just fine with me. I don't really care for the Sens, and I really like star hockey players who score lots of points. So, Sidney Crosby was great in the first round, and it was a good series to watch. I personally owe the Senators an apology - I honestly believed the Pens would walk all over them, but Ottawa was strong and resilient - much more so than I would have believed.
In the end, they were injured and out-classed, but they had plenty of punch and push, which has been their historic downfall in the past. This year, they were just missing too many regulars and obviously the scoring finesse that Heatley served them.
So, credit where credit is due. A real hard-working first round exit for the Senators. But I'm happy to see the Pens move on.
Philadelphia thumps New Jersey (4-1)
This should be a moment of pause for New Jersey, who would appear to have their best years behind them. That's kinda scary - but seeing as how they made a big move at the trade deadline to pick up Kovalchuk - it might also indicate that their GM, Lou Lamoreillo might also have known this was one of their last shots. You don't package prospects for a short-term super-star for one last hoorah and think that you've got a long future ahead of you (although Pittsburgh pulled it off after trading for Hossa, failing, then winning - so ... refuting myself aside) I think New Jersey knows (just as we all know) that Jersey is done.
Philly, on the other hand, is a team of flawed heroes (the best kind of heroes). They're good scorers, they're talented players, but they've got short tempers, broken noses, mean streaks and are basically Charles Barkely on skates when it comes to being role models. A whole team of guys like that is unpredictable (thus awesome to follow along with). I picked this win as a preference because the character of the Flyers is more important than their value as a team. I want to watch this ticking time bomb keep on ticking. Every game they play is another interesting game.
I have nothing good to say about New Jersey.
Boston defeat Buffalo (4-2)
I picked Buffalo over Boston because I believed that Ryan Miller (because his first name is amazing!) was an outstanding goalie who couldn't be beat by anything other than a gold-medal calibre team of all-star power-forwards who were competing at the Olympic level. Turns out, a low-scoring crew of injured Bruins can beat him, too.
This is too bad because Buffalo is a surrogate Canadian team (so we Canadians like to say). A small-market team that is far enough north that the rest of the NHL envies that they get to play while there's actually snow on the ground. Or something like that. I really respect Lindy Ruff and Mr. Regier and all that they've done while sticking to their ideals of not overpaying their talent and keeping the team competitive. Ruff especially.
Granted, Boston was very, very good. And again, I've got some Second Round action to evaluate their team leading further into the playoffs, but they've been very good moving forward, too. It won't be easy, but the Bruins have done some good work. Nothing wrong with rooting for an Original Six franchise (and especially one who could sure use another Cup win).
Eastern Conference hockey was awesome, as were basically the whole play-offs so far. How were my predictions?
Me: 2-2 (though, if you break it down to wins [Mon.v.Was=3-4; Pit.v.Ott=4-2; Bos.v.Buf=2-4; Phi.v.NJ=4-1] I was 13 wins and 11 losses, which is pretty good, right? Above 500, anyhow.)
How about that Western Conference?
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