Hacks think they know hockey

By Lawrence Bailey

Well, we sure screwed the pooch with our first round predictions. A collective 6 for 16 on teams we deemed worthy of advancement doesn’t put us in good stead heading into the homestretch, but hell, we write for the paper and sports are always slow over the summer.

So here goes.

The NHL has whittled the field down to a final “elite” four. A baffling four to be sure–at least in the Western Conference. So, rather than pick series and Stanley Cup champs, we’ll examine the strengths and weaknesses of each team.

Ottawa Senators- 5:2

The Sens have the best depth of any team left, with scoring and grit on every line. A solid, but unspectacular defence and a goalie on top of his game in Patrick Lalime have helped the Sens get this far. The Devils will definitely be their biggest test.

New Jersey Devils- 3:1

They’ve been here before and they’re riding Martin Brodeur, arguably the best big money goalie in the game. Pat Burns has his squad playing almost mistake-free defensive hockey and is blessed with enough offensively gifted players to pot the two or three goals necessary every night.

Anaheim Mighty Ducks- 6:1

Jean-Sebastian Giguere. That’s where it begins and ends in Anaheim. Riding back-to-back shutouts to open the Western Conference finals (as of press time) he is proving the “goaltending wins in the playoffs” rule. They’ve got enough clutch players to get the big goals when they need them and their nameless defence is making Giguere’s life a lot easier.

Minnesota Wild- 10:1

They have the same talent on their third and fourth lines as the mighty Sens–unfortunately they also have that talent on their top two lines. The Wild are an immaculately coached club who have so completely bought into Head Coach Jacques Lemaire’s system that Vancouver Canucks General Manager Brian Burke called them a cult. Apparently, they’re a cult with an amazing aversion to golf clubs.

So there you have it, our thoughts for better or worse. But hell, what do we know, this year’s NHL postseason has made no sense at all.

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