From the patio, Round 3 predictions

Hi everyone. As I told walkinvisible in the comments string on my last entry, I’ve been at the patio for the last while, but I’ve caught enough playoff hockey from the comfort of the Toronto outdoors to be capable of making a prediction for the Western Conference final. No need to say anything about the East — I have yet to make an incorrect prediction for the games on this side of the continent, so here’s my call on the conference finals that I wrote way back at the beginning of the playoffs:

(1) Buffalo vs. (4) Ottawa

This will be a dream series, obviously. The two best teams in the conference all year long, who waged some epic battles during the season, meet for the right to reach the Stanley Cup final. If it goes down, this will likely be the best series of the playoffs, bar none. Buffalo will want it, that much is certain. But Ottawa, sniffing redemption after all this time, will want it just a bit more.

The pick: Senators in seven.

Unfortunately, I’ll have to make new calls in the west because I had the Sharks beating those pesky Red Wings, and then going on to beat the Ducks, and obviously that’s not going to happen. So …

Western Conference Final

Detroit (1) vs. Anaheim (2)

Detroit is clearly more resilient than I gave it credit for, but two things are going to come against them in this series: The loss of Mathieu Schneider and the relentless attack of the Ducks. Anaheim can play it any which way, but they’re better than any team I’ve seen this year, and this includes the Sabres, at corralling momentum and attacking the net with sustained pressure. Without Schnieder, the Wings are going to be relying too much on Lidstrom to prevent this, and the Flames proved even Lidstrom can be victimized on occasion (that’s the one thing Calgary proved in that series.) Hasek has been phenomenal, and was clearly the best signing of last summer, dollar for dollar. But no goalie can stop everything.

The pick: Ducks in six.

Stanley Cup Final

Anaheim vs. Ottawa

After all these years, we still haven’t seen a European captain raise the Stanley Cup. This series will come down to Daniel Alfredsson vs. Scott Niedermayer, and I ask you: Who do you see raising the trophy? I love Scott Niedermayer. When he held out from New Jersey many years ago, he spent his fall skating with the Kootenay Ice in Cranbrook, where I was working at the time. Daily, I watched him skate. It was breathtaking, effortless, and like nothing I’ve ever seen live. He’s smart, skilled, and a great leader on a team full of great players.

But through this year’s playoffs, I’ve seen Daniel Alfredsson, in person and on television, become a different player. He is the clear focal point on his team, and will do anything to win. When Colby Armstrong was running Senators all over the place, it was Alfredsson who ran him into the boards by the bench, raked his helmet along the dasher for about 10 feet, took him down and delivered a message straight into his ear. He’s scored, blocked shots, and said the right things. After 10 years of disappointment, he wants it — and I think he wants it more that Niedermayer does.

These teams will match up wonderfully. Ottawa has the edge up front; Anaheim the edge on the back-end and with its checking line. It will be an incredible series, perhaps even better than Ottawa-Buffalo is going to turn out to be. But it’s Ottawa’s turn this year.

Gee, maybe I should have saved this take for a couple of weeks.

The pick: Senators in seven.

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~ by duncan on May 11, 2007.

7 Responses to “From the patio, Round 3 predictions”

  1. okay fine. i’ll comment on your big hard-on for alfredsson [leave it to me to un-PG your blog]… i agree that alfie is starting to look like the hockey player he thought he was 3 years ago when he guaranteed a cup in ottawa. i will not argue that he’s ramped up his play to a degree i didn’t think was possible for the once-overrated swede. and, it seems, he’s learned to shut his g**d*** trap. all of that, coupled with the fact that i absolutely adore spezz and emery, that vermette and schaefer are studs and that i want to pinch bryan murray’s cheeks… x

  2. uuuuuhhhhh…. i mean all that coupled with the fact that i absolutely adore spezz and emery, that vermette and schaefer are studs and that i want to pinch bryan murray’s cheeks makes me just fine with the idea of the sens lifting the prize… x

  3. Good to see you’ll let bygones be bygones. I mean, I don’t like anyone who’d besmirch our boy Loober either, but it’s good to forgive, especially when it’s a Swede, right?

  4. i still don’t think it’s a shoo-in, though. i really think detroit is looking stronger than ever, and it scares me that the boys from hockeytown just don’t know how to lose. emery looked slightly better than average last night. and average won’t win a cup…. fingers crossed that the sens can keep it together, knock the slugs out in 4 or 5 and the wings get an injury or two.

  5. Why does everyone keep dissing Emery for, you know, winning games?

  6. don’t get me wrong –i love the guy. i put him in (you may remember) as the #2 goalie in my imaginary “rest of canada” team, just after marty turco. i’m just saying that i’ve seen other goalies look faster and in better position… i was referring to game 2, btw, and not the entirety of the playoffs…
    [please tell me you saw the bit with james duthie on tsn…?]

  7. wi – If you didn’t un-PG things, who would? And I don’t think Duncan saw it but I did. Sweet. Do you have Alfie shoes? Although yours would be called Loob Shoes.

    Duncan – They should trade Emery.

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