HFNHL Playoff Preview - San Jose Tribune

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  1. 91

    91 Registered User

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    HFNHL Playoff Preview – San Jose Tribune

    The Eastern Conference
    With the top all but locked up after the first week of the season, the real race in the East was for the final spot, and it went to the lucky Tampa Bay Lightning after a hard fought playoff race.

    Here are the match-ups for the first round, and predictions.

    #1 Boston Versus #8 Tampa Bay
    At a quick glance Boston would seem to be the easy favorite in this 1 versus 8 match-up. The Bruins took the season series 2-0, outscoring the Lightning 9-3 in the two games. Boston finished this 2005-2006 campaign with a record number of wins at 59, and also have easily one of the best goalies in the league in Marty Turco. Tampa Bay will have to find a way to out-work because the talent level on Boston is much higher on paper. Tampa Bay got into the playoffs via a hard fought race including the likes of the Montreal Canadiens, Florida Panthers and Carolina Hurricanes so they have been playing playoff games for near a month now, which good benefit them. This proves to be a good first round match-up, but look for the powerful Bruins to take it in 5 games.

    #2 New Jersey Versus #7 Buffalo
    If the playoffs were based on regular season play then the Devils would have this series locked up, but that is no where near the case. This first round series has all the makings of a long one. The teams met twice in the regular season, the first a 2-2 deadlock, the second the Devils drubbed the Sabres 7-3. The Sabres will be coming into this series looking for some payback for that loss, and also some bad blood could still be stemming from a supposed charge that defenseman Dmitri Kalinin of the Devils took at defenseman Dick Tarnstrom of the Sabres during that 7-3 loss. The San Jose tribune is labeling this a series to watch with the Sabres taking it in 7 games.

    #3 Washington Versus #6 New York(I)
    The best team to come out of the Southeast is now looking to take care of the 3rd place finishers in the Atlantic Division. While the Capitals finished 20 points ahead the Lightning in the Southeast they only finished 5 points ahead of the Atlantic division Islanders. The season series between the two teams finished at a stalemate, with both games finishing in ties. If the regular season was any indication both teams should make sure they are in the best condition of their lives to prepare for a few overtime sessions in this series. Both teams have high octane players capable of scoring goals so look for this series to be very exciting as well. Look for Erik Cole to play a big part in this series, and in the Islanders taking it in 6 games.

    #4 Philadelphia Versus #5 Ottawa
    This series is a very intriguing one. Both teams are coming off impressive and productive seasons. Although both teams had very successful seasons, the Senators are somewhat stumbling into the playoffs after going 3-6-1 in their last 10 games, whereas the Flyers were 7-2-1 in their final 10 games. The season series between the two conference rivals ended in one win for the Flyers, and a tie. This matchup proves to be tight but look for the Flyers key acquisitions to make the difference, the likes of Todd Bertuzzi and Ed Belfour. The San Jose Tribune sees the Flyers taking it in 5 games.

    Now… the Western Conference…
    Right up until the last week of the season most of the conference was undecided, First through 6 all could have switched in any given week, but the juggling is over and the matchups are set.

    #1 Columbus Versus #8 Chicago
    The Jackets probably would be the first to tell you that after the start they had to the regular season that they would be the Western Conference champs, but on that note they are probably the first to tell you how pleased they are with the results. Chicago has struggled after a strong start to the season, and they only cure for the recent slide would be a first round series win over the Blue Jackets. That is highly unlikely unfortunately for Blackhawks’ fans. Martin Brodeur is as solid as any in the playoffs and looks to be in it for the long run after an impressive season, and the Blue Jackets GM will be the first to tell you that. The season series ended in favour of no one, both had a record of 2-2-2. If the Blackhawks can go on anything for this series it will be payback for the humiliating 7-0 win the Jackets had over them in the final match-up of the season. Regardless of that, the Jackets have been too hot to handle in the recent past to lose, look for them to win this series in 5 games.

    #2 San Jose Versus #7 Anaheim
    1-2 in the Pacific division the Sharks and Ducks would not have pegged themselves as a first round match-up at the beginning of the year, but the struggles of the Ducks have placed them in the number 7 spot. The season series was to the advantage of the Sharks at 3-2-1, but due to the scheduling by the HFNHL these teams have not seen each other since well before the trade deadline. Jose Theodore will be ready to go for Game 1 in San Jose after being rested the last 4 games in favour of getting Cristobal Huet some playing time. Just because the Sharks finished 23 points ahead of the Ducks in the regular season does not mean they can look past this first round match-up, and each player on the roster knows that, as do the Duck players, they know they can beat the Sharks. Look for the Sharks of San Jose to take this series in 6 games. (As if im going to vote against my own team!)

    #3 Edmonton Versus #6 St. Louis
    The Oilers are happy to be here, but they know they have a job to do know that they have earned home-ice advantage for the first round of the playoffs. The Blues would like to be higher in the standings but this is where they are now and they know they have the ability to win games on any night with their line-up. The season series between the two teams ended with the Blues taking both games by scores of 5-3 and 2-1. This series will most likely be as tight checking as the regular season games were. St. Louis needs their top guns like Heatley, Alfreddson, Lecavalier, and Samsonov to come out and play every shift like its their last, that’s the only way they will be take this 1st round series. The Oilers need much of the same from their top guys. The one thing that will determine the winner of these series will be goaltending. Nabokov versus Khabibulin. Look for Edmonton to take the series in 7 games.

    #4 Detroit Versus #5 Minnesota
    Much has been made of the first playoff appearance for the Wild, but the point is not to just make the playoffs but to do something in them, and experience could be the difference in this series. Detroit is hungry to get the playoffs going, so are the Wild, so look for this one to be a “Wild†one. The season series between these two teams was actually in favour of the Wild at 1-0-1, and the win was actually a shutout. This series will be a test of total team effort, both teams are strong, and both will be fighting hard for every inch in this series. Since it is the very first visit to the post-season for the Minnesota Wild, it is felt that experience will win the battle in the end, Red Wings in 7 games.

    There you have it, now all we need to do is get the games going. The test of attrition begins today, and will end in roughly 2 months. Good luck to all! ( Disclaimer: Since this will be my first playoff as a GM in this league I do no expect my predictions to be mostly if any bit true  )

    Let’s get the 2006 Playoffs going!

    Jose Jaws
    San Jose Tribune
     
    Last edited: May 1, 2006
  2. Excellent, thank you.

    Go Wings ;)
     
  3. Ohio Jones

    Ohio Jones Game on...

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    Great overview!

    My fearless predictions:

    East:
    Boston in 4
    New Jersey in 6
    Washington in 7
    Philadelphia in 6

    West:
    Columbus in 6
    San Jose in 5
    St. Louis in 7
    Edmonton in 7

    I was going to toss a coin on the result from the Detroit/Edmonton matchup, but I figured it would be a shame if Detroit was responsible in consecutive years for eliminating a team in its first-ever trip to the playoffs, don't you think, Drew? ;) Still, Greg's got his work cut out for him, since the Wings have a history of being a very tough and savvy opponent in the post seaosn.
     
  4. Pandastyle

    Pandastyle Registered User

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    Good work, I like Edmonton winning in 7 so I can maximize my playoff earnings. :)
     
  5. spintheblackcircle

    spintheblackcircle ...so that happened.

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    St Louis plays Edmonton. Not to speak for Drew, but I do think ONE of us should advance from our series. :)
     
  6. Ohio Jones

    Ohio Jones Game on...

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    D'oh! You'll note, I talked about a team's first appearance in the post-season... I was thinking of you. So I guess it's supposed to be Minnesota in 7 and St. Louis in 7.

    On a side note, my Jackets sucked tonight. :rant:
     
  7. spintheblackcircle

    spintheblackcircle ...so that happened.

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    Minnesota also brought the suck.
     
  8. 91

    91 Registered User

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    Bruins in 5 - Bruins in 5
    Sabres in 7 - Sabres in 6
    Islanders in 6 - Capitals in 6
    Flyers in 5 - Flyers in 6

    3 out 4 in the East

    Jackets in 5 - Jackets in 5
    Sharks in 6 - Sharks in 6
    Edmonton in 7 - St. Louis in 5
    Wings in 7 - Who knows?

    2 out of 3 so far in the West!

    :yo:
     
  9. Ohio Jones

    Ohio Jones Game on...

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    East:
    Boston in 4 = Boston in 5
    New Jersey in 6 = Buffalo in 6
    Washington in 7 = Washington in 6
    Philadelphia in 6 = Philly in 6

    West:
    Columbus in 6 = Columbus in 5
    San Jose in 5 = San Jose in 6
    St. Louis in 7 = St. Louis in 5
    Minnesota in 7 = TBD

    So far I've called 6 of 7 winners, but only 1 in the correct number of games. Good thing I don't handicap for a living...

    The matchups are all set now for the second round, just waiting to see which of Minnesota or Detroit faces off against San Jose. The other matchups are as follows (with seeding in brackets):

    East:
    BOS (1) vs. BUF (7)
    WAS (3) vs. PHI (4)

    West:
    CBJ (1) vs. STL (7)
    SJS (2) vs. DET (4) or MIN (5)

    I can't speak for any of the other GMs, but I know I'm not looking forward to my second-round matchup with St. Louis, despite a 4-0-2 record against the Blues in the regular season, including two wins to close out the season. The Blues were just way too strong in their 5-game elimination of the Oilers, and they have as intimidating a bunch of forwards and blueliners as any team in the league. I'll have to pray Brodeur stays healthy and continues to have the Blues' number.

    Congratulations are due to Dryden's Chicago Blackhawks for a spirited series. After exchanging 4-0 defeats in the first two games and then a 6-4 free-for-all, these two rivals went toe-to-toe for the remainder of the games, where the Jackets' advantage in shots and hits eventually wore down their opponent, allowing Columbus to edge past the Hawks 2-1 in each of the final two games. The series was won on, of all things, a short-handed goal by defenceman Philippe Boucher - quite possibly the biggest goal of his career.

    Best wishes for next year, Dry!
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2006

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