With the second round of the playoffs just a few short hours away, let's take one last look back at the opening round, including how I fared with my predictions. The first round of the playoffs are possibly my two favorite weeks of the year, and this season was no disappointment.
Detroit v Nashville
I said: Red Wings in 5
What happened: Red Wings in 6
Comments: Nashville made a series of it thanks to goalie Dan Ellis, but they just didn't have enough to hang with the Wings. I picked Alexander Radulov as my player to watch in the series as I expected him to have a big impact for Nashville. I just didn't think it would be for knocking Jason Arnott out of the series with a celebratory check into the boards after a goal. That may signal the end of his days in Nashville before all is said and done.
San Jose v Calgary
I said: Flames in 7
What happened: Sharks in 7
Comments: This was a back and forth series and the tightest of the first round offerings in the West, as I expected. I really thought the Flames were going to pull off the upset, but they just didn't have enough in the end. San Jose's depth was the big difference in the series as Calgary failed to find much offense beyond the Iginla line.
Minnesota v Colorado
I said: Wild in 6
What happened: Avalanche in 6
Comments: In what is becoming a playoff tradition, I was really high on Minnesota heading into the playoffs and they proceeded to let me down. I thought Marian Gaborik would get the Wild through to the next round, but he was nowhere to be seen. It was nice to see Joe Sakic back in vintage form though.
Anaheim v Dallas
I said: Ducks in 6
What happened: Stars in 6
Comments: This one was a minor shock to me. I knew the Stars were capable of big things even though they backed into the playoffs, but I really expected a lot more from the Ducks this post-season. Giving away the first two games in Anaheim really came back to haunt the Ducks once they started trying to make a series of it. With that said, I couldn't be happier the Stars won as I have a soft spot in my heart for them (and it keeps my dreams of a Pens/Stars Finals alive).
Montreal v Boston
I said: Bruins in 7
What happened: Canadiens in 7
Comments: I thought this was going to be a really tight series, and I mistakenly thought the Habs were going to be without the services of Mike Komisarek. If I had known he was going to be playing I probably would have taken Montreal. Oh well, life goes on...
Pittsburgh v Ottawa
I said: Pens in 5
What happened: Pens in 4!!!
Comments: I totally expected the Pens to run Ottawa into the ground, but I thought the Sens at least had enough pride to steal a game at home. I guess they showed me. Sid and Geno spearheaded a scarily balanced Pittsburgh attack while the Marc-Andre Fleury experience was in full effect at the other end. It was a near flawless series for the Pens and I think they have established themselves as the team to beat in the East.
Washington v Philadelphia
I said: Caps in 6
What happened: Flyers in 7
Comments: I could sit here and draw up parallels between this year's Caps and last year's Penguins, but that wouldn't do justice to either team. The fact is that Washington is a young team that put up a good fight after digging themselves quite a hole against the Flyers. Mike Richards led the way for the Flyers as they can now set their sights on the top seeded Canadiens and their rowdy fans.
New Jersey v Rangers
I said: Rangers in 5
What happened: Rangers in 5
Comments: While there was a bit more offense in this series than I expected, thanks largely to a rejuvenated Jaromir Jagr, it went down just as I expected. If someone would have made me bet my life on one of the first round series it would have been this one. The Rangers and Penguins are the two best teams in the East to me hands down. One of those two teams will be lifting the Cup come June.
- How fun was it to watch the Senators implode right before our very eyes? The Pens sweep of Ottawa almost made last year worth it. Almost...
- How bad were the Ducks in their first two games? Did they think they could spot Dallas the first two and still roll right over them? And how lame are the Anaheim fans? Talk about fickle.
- The Rangers and Penguins are far more consistent (especially defensively) than any of the other teams in the East and that is what is going to get one of them to the Finals.
- The NHL brass must be happy a Minnesota/Anaheim rematch was avoided. That had bloodbath written all over it.
- Switching to Chris Osgood in net makes the Wings a legitimate contender in the West. Hopefully we've seen the last of Dominik Hasek on NHL ice.
- I bet if you petitioned NHL players you could raise enough money to launch Sean Avery and Jordin Tootoo into deep space. Martin Brodeur might even fund the entire venture himself.
- Is there another goalie you would rather have in net right now than Marc-Andre Fleury? Me neither.
- Bettman almost got his Ovechkin vs. Crosby matchup. Maybe next year...