Sunday, May 27, 2007

2007 NHL Playoffs Round IV

Series O; Stanley Cup Finals: Anaheim Thug Ducks (60-38; 110 points; 1st Pacific Division, 2nd Western Conference, 4th Overall) vs. Ottawa Senators (60-37; 105 points; 2nd Northeast Division, 4th Eastern Conference, 9th Overall)

And so once again the NHL playoffs play to an anti-climatic conclusion. Well, not really but sorry folks, as I pointed out last month, no team that has finished lower than 7th overall has ever won the Stanley Cup and only twice has a team that far down in the overall standings taken the top prize. While I admit that it would be a nice and sentimental to see a Canadian team win the Cup for the first time since the Montreal Canadiens did it in 1993, it just isn't going to happen folks. Sorry but slow starts do have a penalty. And as I said before, it has nothing to do with my irrational hatred of Bryan Murray but Murray now has to face an Anaheim team that is bigger, stronger, and more physical than any other team they've faced this playoff season so on that count, Ottawa is going to need their 8 days off in order to be ready for this series. However, the longer layoff means more rust for the Senators. The Senators are also traveling a long distance for the first time in this playoff season while Anaheim is used to long plane rides to playoff games.

Do I think that this will be a quick and easy series win for the Thug Ducks? Hardly. The Senators are playing their best hockey this season but that doesn't mean that Anaheim will be out for the count. The Thug Ducks were all but written off after Game 3 against the Red Wings after going down 2-1 and having Chris Pronger suspended for Game 4. The Thug Ducks responded by winning three games in a row and Detroit still does not know what hit them. Anaheim has faced adversity this playoff year and they have come through in spades. In ringing up a 12-3 playoff record, the Senators have not yet faced any kind of real adversity and have yet to trail in a playoff series this spring. How they handle a real fight on their hands will be interesting to watch.

All of that being said, I think this will be a rather entertaining series once both teams shake off the rink rust. I would be rather surprised to see this being a quick series of either four or five games but Anaheim has just too much for Ottawa to handle and when the chips are down, I have to like Anaheim's lineup compared to Ottawa's when things get tight. The Senators won't go quietly but they aren't getting the Cup. Thug Ducks in seven.



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